The community of Simiri has experienced drought and erratic rainfall leading to insufficient forage products, land degradation and subsequent lowered livestock productivity and weaker dairy performance. Faced with the recurrence of losses of forage resources linked to climatic hazards since the 1970s, farmers in the community of Tillabéry initiated conservation of grasses and straws with millstones to ensure forage supply to livestock, improving the community's climate resiliency.To provide fodder during the dry season, at the end of every harvest, the Simiri herders collect and stack high quality grasses and straw into haystacks of about diameter of 8 to 10 m and a height of 4 m. These are protected against fire. The technology is often applied in degraded agro-pastoral zones with weak pasture resouces.
Through community knowledge sharing process, Simiri and all Tillabery livestock keepers have developed and improved skills on the construction of the fodder stacks, the collection of appropriate grasses and straws and the maintenance techniques and protection against fire. To build up climate resilience of traditional livestock farming system, community herders of Tilabery collect appropriate grass species (eg. Cenchrus biflorus) and straws and pile them into millstones with a diameter of 8 to 10 m and a height of 4 m. Firebreaks and fences are built around the grinding wheels to protect the stock of fodder and thus ensure a virtually permanent cover for food livestock. In addition, a covering tarpaulin is used to protect the millstones against post-harvesting damages due to off season rain and any other unpredictable adverse events. Notwithstanding the arduousness of the collection work and the significant cost of the required roof covering the millstones designed, this is an effective strategy for adapting to the marked decline in forage resources in the Sahelian pastoral zone. In addition, the permanent availability of a stock of forage reserves mainly contributes in the dry season, to the supply of meat and dairy products; thus contributing to household climate resilience of Tillabéry community.
Leaders of this activity regularly communicate the advantages of the millstones via radio. The main motivation for this technology is the constitution of forage reserve for livestock feed especially during periods of drought, as well as the sale of fodder to generate financial resources for the benefit of households. In addition, the supply of meat and milk is almost assured for the Tillabéry community. Individual grinding is an effective method of managing livestock and forage resources. Due to the availability of sufficient forage reserves, farmers are less and less aware of the need to graze their livestock in agricultural fields. This trend contributes to the reduction of recurrent conflicts between herders and farmers in the area and generally in the Sahel. Local authorithies and village chief mitigate community conflicts between farmers and herders. The availability of fodder reduces the irrational exploitation of forest resources (excessive cutting of trees for the feeding of livestock) and is also an alternative to transhumance. Thus, the implementation of straw mills contributes to the conservation of forest cover (wells and avoids GHG emissions) and the fight against land degradation. As a result, the technology is a strategy for climate change mitigation and environmental protection at the community level.
Depending on the availability of pasture, the cost of making a millstone is estimated at about CFAF 130000 (260 USD) / ha (MDA / PAC1) including labor and small equipment (rakes, pegs), and covering tarpaulin.
Benefits of the technology
- Economic sustainability: There are significant benefits (fodder stock increased, increased income through sale of the surplus of fodder haystacks)
- Opportunity to develop stall-fed animals (cows, cattles, etc.) and in turn, generating additional incomes.
- Easy deployment: No level of academic training required to apply technology
- Strengthening of family and community relationship and particularly the herders and farmers which have often experiencing some conflicts due to inappropriate use of straws without a formal agreement.
- Significant economic benefits: availability of fodder in the dry season and improved food security (supply of meat and dairy products)
- An effective alternative to pastoral activity carried out by livestock keepers in the dry season in search of abundant forage resources.
- Resilience strategy in response to erratic rainfall
The direct beneficiaries are the haystacks owners who are often the heads of households and his family
The collection, piling and development of dedicated sites are done by men. But, women are also active by participating to the collection of straws and performing permanent monitoring to better protect the millstones. In fact, the improvement of meat and dairy productivity provide an opportunity for women to preprare enhanced meals for the household and and therefore enhancing their food security and climate resilience.
Potential for technology transfer and up-scaling
- Exchange visits with the implementing partners
- Identification of appropriate sites or areas
- Hands on training of practitioners: demonstration effect and practice of the techniques of layout of the site (installation of the fence and firewall) and of piling up
- Continuous monitoring and evaluation program conducted with the early movers (community champions) to ensure optimum operation of the millstones.
- Communication and awareness campaign (local radio, exchange field visits)
- Limited financial resources for the purchase of tarpaulins and / or payment of labor if necessary
- Labour intensive
- Availability of men for the required human labor force
Bello O. M. M. 2016. Bonnes Pratiques en matière de gestion des terres, gestion des ressources naturelles et changements climatiques, rapport Intermédiaire, CILSS, 84 p.