Dryland areas devoted to agro-pastoral production face a worrying constellation of constraints: over-grazing, rangeland/forage imbalances, land degradation, soil erosion, increasing climate variability, and conflicts between crop producers and pastoralists.
In North Africa and West Asia, Dryland Systems is targeting small ruminants, barley, and small-scale irrigation systems; in East and Southern Africa the focus is on integrated livestock-crop production; in South Asia crop-tree-livestock production systems based on millets and legumes are studied; and in West Africa and the Dry Savannas the focus is millet-cowpea-livestock production.
Some examples of the work Dryland Systems is doing to strengthen agro-pastoral systems:
In West Africa farmers are being trained in quality seed production.
The benefits of conservation agriculture are being promoted to farming communities in West Asia and North Africa - a means of conserving scare water resources, improving soil fertility, and boosting yields.
The study, piloting and out-scaling of conservation agriculture across 40,000 hectares in Iraq and Syria has been particularly successful: increasing yields by 20 percent, saving fuel by up to 40 liters per hectare, and increasing profitability by 350 USD per hectare.
Improving the flock performance of small ruminants through the use of improved rams and artificial insemination.
Adopting a holistic approach to improve livestock profitability and enhance the market competitiveness of small ruminant dairy products.
Improving the management of agro-pastoral rangelands: evaluating the performance of spineless cactus; mapping rangeland vegetation resources in Southern Tunisia; and understanding herd mobility.
Introducing proven water harvesting techniques and soil and water conservation practices to improve livestock productivity and reduce risks and vulnerability.