Climate Change in Mali: Agricultural Adaptive Practices Impact Modeling Assessment
Solomon Folle, David J. Mulla
This technical translation report summarizes the full report, "Mali Agricultural Adaptive Practices Modeling Assessment-Full Report," which is featured in full as Annex A in the report. Due to the importance of the agriculture sector in Mali, climate change is a significant threat. Approximately 84 percent of the farmland in Mali has water-related constraints, which makes rainwater harvesting methods and irrigation water (from the Niger River) crucial. In addition to this, rainfall is highly variable and unevenly distributed with the majority falling in southern Mali. Drought creates frequent food shortages, especially in northern Mali. Climate change threatens to increase air temperatures, evapotranspiration, intense rainstorms, and risk of heat waves.
In Mali, there is a call for the development of adaptive practices in agriculture to maintain or increase crop production. This report evaluation includes four practices in water conservation to help optimize soil water retention and alleviate soil fertility constraints for improved crop productivity. These four practices include: contour ridges, zai holes (planting pits), bunds, and vegetative filter strips. The study concluded that all methods can reach the intended results, but not one of the practices can improve soils and yields more than the others under all conditions. For these practices to be effective, it must be applied to the appropriate crop and conditions.
Excerpt from the report:
A few broad conclusions can be drawn regarding the effectiveness of the four water harvesting practices evaluated.
- Generally, they improved sorghum yields most consistently, and on average, contour ridges proved to be most effective.
- The use of contour ridges on sorghum significantly raised yields in all climate scenarios and all soils, with the exception of arenosols under the IPSL 2050 scenario.
- Across all climate scenarios and crops, the practices were least effective on the sandy, less fertile arenosols, and produced the smallest impact on the yields of rice under supplemental irrigation. The practices also resulted in the greatest improvements in yield under the harsh CSIRO 2050 scenario.
However, an overall absence of pattern in the results overshadows these isolated conclusions. Clearly, the impact of each water harvesting practice depends on the crop, soil type, slope, and climate scenario under which it is being used. The same practice influences surface water runoff, soil loss, surface organic carbon and yields differently under different conditions.
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