“Mangroves, mangrove rice and mangrove people - sustainably improving rice production, ecosystems and livelihoods” [FOOD/2019/412-700, DeSIRA_GB]
Goal: The project aims at increasing the productivity and stabilising the inter-annual mangrove swamp rice production, as well as better understanding and improving the drivers and complex dynamics of mangroves’ ecosystem change. This unique West African agri-aquaculture-livestock farming system relies on the capacity to mobilise specialized knowledge (for dike and dam construction and maintenance, water management, the control of soil fertility and toxicity, and rice variety selection) and massive labour at certain periods of the cycle. At present, these rich farmers’ knowledge and skills have been showing numerous gaps in face of new agroecological and socioeconomic conditions. By including young farmers in the process of co-production of knowledge, the goal also involves helping local actors improve their understanding and knowledge of ongoing changes and the development of innovative solutions to these changes. These innovations will respond to threats emanating from climate change and socioeconomic transformations, political instability and institutional weakness, and will maximise the immediate and long-term impact of national and international investments through the creation of synergies with past and ongoing projects/programmes. The project will adopt an action-research and participatory-learning approach and will contribute to creating an Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System (AKIS) able to sustainably merge local and scientific knowledges and formal and informal technology diffusion systems through the co-production of knowledge for the development of technologies (e.g., varieties, cultivation and water management techniques), farmers organization into a cross-country network, the design of early warning systems for the behaviour of the rains and the tides and the creation of seeds’ sharing regional networks.
The project core team will be constituted by 2 Universities (University of Lisbon and Wageningen University), 4 institutions (Instituto Superior de Agronomia-ISA, WUR, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement-IRD, and the Instituto de Geografia e Ordenamento do Território-IGOT), 30 young farmers-researchers and 10 elder farmers specialized in dike and dam construction, 25 graduate students, 3 master students, 10 PhD students, 3 post-docs, 19 senior researchers/professors.