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Re-greening in Niger, a road trip with Dr Chris Reij

September 12, 2019


We’re going to the village of Batodi, which I visited for the first time in 1989. In those days this was completely barren and degraded plateau, virtually no trees. … around early 1990s, farmers began to use the Zai in this area to rehabilitate the very degraded land The technique had been introduced here by an IFAD funded project in this region and they had brought farmers to the Yatenga, in particular to Yacouba Sawadogo where they saw the technique and, upon return, they started testing it and it began spreading very very quickly. Now, we see the results here: this is a complete transformation on both sides of the road and the interesting story with regard to Batodi is, when I got back there, after 10 years, in 2004 the farmers told that the water level in the wells had gone up by about 14 m, in 10 years time. This is a remarkable place because in 1990 there was nothing here, it was just a barren, degraded plateau, and the people had great difficulties to survive, Now, they started making “zaï”, planting pits and ‘halfmoons’ in the early 1990’s … when I got back here in 2004, they had 4 vegetable gardens and that was related to the fact that they had done the Zai So the water level in the wells came up because more water infiltrated into the soil and when I got back here in January 2012, they already had ten different gardens. We are now looking at a garden in June 2012. They are still cultivating, they are cultivanting manioc (cassava), they are cultivating pepper and a lot of other crops. If you look at the background, then you will see many trees that have emerged on what used to barren land and they emerged because the manure used in all these planting pits contained seeds from trees and then subsequently they’ve protected and managed the trees. the water level in this well remains high so I think it’s 6 m deep because it’s the end of the day and they’ve been irrigating and it fills up againg during the night ’till about 4 m deep, so it’s filling up and it all has to do with the fact that so much water now, in these fields is infiltrating rather than running off. So we see a lot of onions that have been stocked here that… how many tons of onions are you going to transport back? 37 tons? So normally, when you go to Galbi and other places you take 37 tons and you do the and you do this 2 or 3 times a month during the whole year? So every year you transport at least 20 times 37 tons? Yes, in a year. That’s a big quantity! We’re in a lowland and farmers in these lowlands cultivate a whole series of crops: manioc, sugarcane, there are certain areas where they also grow rice, they have a number of fruit trees, they have date palms so they explote the whole area in a very judicious way, they are really precision-farmers, they know exactly what kind of crops they can grow where, crops that normally you would expect in areas with much higher rainfall like sugarcane We are here in an area with 450-500 mm of rainfall and people cultivate sugarcane! If you go and look at a mature baobab, the value of the leaves of a mature baobab, on an annual basis, can go up to $70, somewhere between 30 and 70 dollars a year, depending on the time of the season that the leaves are being sold. The leaves from this parkland here, in Miria are so also sold and exported to Sudan and to Saudi Arabia So there is the whole interaction of value chain around the baobab leaves. And the fruits that are being produced can be also transformed into something that you use for your breakfast, a kind of a jelly. If you would live in UK, London, then you go to Harrods and you buy one little bottle of baobab jelly for £25 “that’s great!” So, there is no other park, anywhere else in the Sahel, where farmers have so systematically regenerated the young baobab as they have done here in Mirria. The inspiration has been great, a lot of lessons have been learned that we, back to Nigeria, we need to talk to ourselves find a way to get the farmers together to know that these aspects can be done better in the environment because we have what it takes to do it. The farmers have to be motivated, have to be empowered, have to be made to believe in themselves, that the land that presently they are seen as degraded, can come back, in a few years time, to be much more natural, much more productive, much more economic than it is presently. I’m very happy about this visit because, if you look at the Nigerian delegation members, some of them may have been a little bit skeptical when they came here, but it’s really a matter of “seeing is believing”. I am very inspired by what I’ve seen here and by what I have heard from the farmers, from the government officials. I’m so much inspired that I’m already thinking of how we might implement such a case in Nigeria. It was a pleasure for us to share the knowledge of the successfull story of the re-greening effort in Niger Republic.

38 Comments

  • Reply Brooks Anderson April 6, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Amazing! Can you imagine what could be done by teaching and supplying seeds and plants in this region for the cost of one stealth fighter jet?

  • Reply ALI SH February 4, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    awesome. this white's are alway more generouse but we africans are egoests..

  • Reply Benderwii March 15, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    If this guy isn't from Holland I will quit internet :'). Nice vid though.

  • Reply Gerald Pierini July 6, 2016 at 3:23 am

    What is the method called in the first segment of the film where they dig the holes and plant in them?

  • Reply mike askme April 21, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Mother nature does not like to be naked, for all those who don't understand this comment I will explain. In nature you hardly see productive land bare, the land should always be covered. Covered land preserve moister, moister allows things to grow. Growing plants provides a nutrient rich soil.

  • Reply Camilo Castañeda April 27, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    sin lugar a dudas la solución del planeta tierra es dejar de extraer sus minerales y sembrar todos los días plantas, arbustos, arboles y perseverar por la protección del agua y de las semillas en todo el planeta tierra. Te amo Tierra, te amo paisaje de todos, pero que lamentablemente el planeta cada vez es mas es de nadie

  • Reply ndb ndb September 10, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Plant name

    Plz

    ?????

  • Reply Bernard Finucane September 15, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    I wonder if zai is what I see in these satellite pictures near Maradi.

    https://www.google.de/maps/place/Niger/@13.4688183,7.0975821,224m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x1199ec7ac6a1af5d:0xc933920a158e24d4!8m2!3d17.607789!4d8.081666

    https://www.google.de/maps/place/Niger/@13.4525122,7.1017774,385m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x1199ec7ac6a1af5d:0xc933920a158e24d4!8m2!3d17.607789!4d8.081666

  • Reply Wullop Khin October 8, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    Your video informs & inspires people all over the world to save forests, environment & earth… May peace & prosperity, health & harmony, come to Niger, Niger people & people all around the world… Thank, thank & many, many thanks…

  • Reply thomasucc November 22, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Yes but does it rain

  • Reply Anton van der Pluijm January 16, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Bekijk de film : www.backtoedenfilm.com .

  • Reply Proximo February 19, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    Here's a way to stop emigration crisis in Europe!

  • Reply Yusuf Mohamed March 15, 2018 at 1:14 am

    ….

  • Reply Yusuf Mohamed March 15, 2018 at 1:15 am

    ra

  • Reply unlimitedwealth1 June 15, 2018 at 10:43 am

    It might be even more successful to add women to the project cuz the women will reinvest the money into her family and her husband whereas the men will invest in a 2nd or 3rd wife

  • Reply Everything July 10, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Does doing this change weather ?

  • Reply stan Kirubi July 11, 2018 at 11:46 am

    Nice one

  • Reply Khadija Abdalla August 26, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    It still was done in Africa by local african. that is what you have to note.

  • Reply mir shk August 30, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Whts the name of tree in last part of the clip

  • Reply Jayeeta Ghosh September 1, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    make more green for better environment

  • Reply not2tees September 20, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Watching this will do your mood a lot of good, friends . . .

  • Reply Henry Duze September 21, 2018 at 7:50 am

    WOW, we need more of these projects in Africa. Thank you

  • Reply Alpha Diallo September 29, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Imagine the French stealing the ressouces( uranium) of this country without help at all.France is the biggest uranium seller in Europe all that coming from niger or central African rep by thief.La France doit laisser afrique pour qu,elle sent remette sur les rails du developement

  • Reply William Chamberlain October 1, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Didn't know that baobab leaves were a crop!

  • Reply goognam goognws October 2, 2018 at 4:22 am

    English people need to step the fuck out of Francophonie Africa were people can speak French better than any english people. You were already kicked out of India, America, Hong Kong don't go try to steal other people's economy.

  • Reply TheSnowyOwl 9455 October 3, 2018 at 1:25 am

    This short film is very inspiring, thanks!

  • Reply Francis Lim October 8, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Because with erosion over thousands of years,most lands becomes hard and flat which allows water to runoff,by digging holes,terracing and swales we can trap water forcing it to go underground making it a fertile land which support life and plant growth.With more trees around we can trap moisture from the air ,water dew form at night on those leaves which drops onto the ground further enriching the land.

  • Reply Daoen October 8, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    How can anyone give this a thumbs down!? It's wonderful!

  • Reply Brian Evolved October 12, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    let them watch Jeff Lawton

  • Reply Philipp Meier October 16, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    This video is so inspiring, we europeans often think africa is just a bottomless hole, you send money but you do not accomplish anything. This shows that africa has sooo much potential and it can be done with little capital. Not only revitilising the desert but also local communities and trying to stop climate change. I while ago I read a lot of research papers about organic matter in the soil and their impact on the lands fertility and I made some (admitedly not very scientific) estimates how much carbon could be stored if only a small percentage of savannah or desert regions could become "green". In a single hectar (100 x 100 meter) you can store about 30 t of pure carbon if not more (as I've said it wasn't very scientific, I am a lay person, it could be more it could be less, but I would be surprised if I was too far off). 30 t of carbon is the equivalent of 110 t of co2. Just think about the potential if we would do this on 100 Mio ha, which isn't unrealistic at all, it would still only be a small percentage of the available land.
    It gives me so much hope not just for the climate, but for the african people.

  • Reply Joe Villaflores November 2, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    our planet's hope is Africa

  • Reply King's Media November 21, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Inspiring

  • Reply Julia Smith December 5, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Truly liked this. <3

  • Reply Jeremy Ksor January 1, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Montagnard indigenous Central highland we are farmer too that how we survived but today we lost all property to ethnic Vietnamese , the vN government wipe us out . Hope these people life getting better in the future.

  • Reply Piman Mann Jaques April 19, 2019 at 1:11 am

    Isn't this an indigenous technique that is being used?

  • Reply Pamela Homeyer June 3, 2019 at 4:04 am

    Wonderful news

  • Reply Kelly Brown June 4, 2019 at 4:11 am

    Afrikaaner?

  • Reply PAWAN JINDAL June 22, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    great work thanks

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