Acacia Operation Project (AOP)

In collaboration with FAO NGARA implemented the “Acacia Operation Project (AOP) – Support to Food Security, Poverty Alleviation and Soil Degradation Control in the Gums and Resins Producer Countries with funds from the government of Italy through FAO” implemented from January 2004 – May 2006 with a cost extension up to August 2008 and thereafter a no cost extension until June 2010. The AOP had three components; the major one focused on establishment of the Agro-silvo-pastoral system in arid and semi-arid lands using a mechanized water harvesting technology (Vallerani® system – A mechanized water harvesting technology by which micro basins can be dug while ploughing degraded soils).

At the end of the pilot phase in December 2006, a total of about 13 000 hectares of land had been worked in member countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Kenya, Niger, Senegal and Sudan. These comprised 1,640 in Burkina Faso planted mainly with Acacia senegal inter-cropped with sorghum and grasses; 432 hectares in Chad also planted with Acacia senegal intercropped with sorghum; 286 hectares in Northern Kenya (Samburu and Marsabit counties) planted with Acacia senegal inter-cropped with cowpeas, green grams, pearl millet and sorghum and 53 hectares in South Eastern Kenya (Makueni) planted with Jatropha curcas, Melia volkensii and improved mangoes intercropped with hybrid maize; 2,175 hectares in Niger planted with Acacia senegal, Acacia seyal, Acacia nilotica, Bauhinia rufescens, Ziziphus mauritiana inter-cropped with herbaceous plants of Cassia tora, Andropogon gayanus and Cymbopogon species; 3,390 hectares of land in Senegal planted with Acacia senegal and Acacia mellifera inter-cropped with cotton, millet, peanut and watermelon; and 4,773 hectares in the Sudan planted with Acacia senegal, Acacia seyal and other species of A. mellifera, A. nilotica, Albizia spp and Azadirachta indica. The project demonstrated that land degradation and desertification control is possible on large scale through mechanized rainwater harvesting. A participatory approach is an important asset and agro-silvo-pastoral system key to successful rehabilitation as it provides both short and medium term benefits as it improves food security and reduces poverty to the rural communities, hence improved livelihoods. After six years, trees under Vallerani system had a diameter and height of 14 cm and 7.4 m compared to 9.8 cm and 6.6 m respectively.