The ESA Saline Agriculture Network initiative seeks to bring together scientists, technicians and agricultural practitioners to exchange experiences and create synergies while working towards the sustainable use and management of salt-affected agricultural soil resources in Eastern and Southern Africa. This shall be achieved through the implementation of applied agricultural research projects, topical publications, along with continuous networking and awareness raising activities.
ongoing, since 2020
88.000€ (since 2020)
Principal Network Partners
– The Conservation, Food & Health Foundation
– Development Cooperation of the German Federal State of Hesse
– Stiftung Ursula Merz
Strengthening knowledge and action networks on Saline Agriculture in Eastern and Southern Africa, through:
- Implementation of thematic project initiatives (primarily applied and participatory agricultural research).
- Elaboration of publications (studies, guidebooks, information material, etc.)
- Conducting workshops and trainings for knowledge exchange and awareness raising.
- Providing (digital) network infrastructure for continuous technical exchange.
ESA Saline Agriculture Network
Soil salinisation is one of the most significant drivers of land degradation worldwide. Especially in the context of agricultural land use, it is becoming an increasing constraint. It often results from the interaction of natural conditions (e.g. arid climate, high groundwater tables, seawater intrusion) and human mismanagement (e.g. improper irrigation and drainage). Increasingly, climate change is also a driving force; be it in the form of prolonged dry periods or sea level rise. The consequences are declining agricultural yields, up to complete crop failure and abandonment of agricultural land, as the majority of agricultural crops can only tolerate low soil salinity levels.
This trend increasingly is being observed also in Mozambique and other countries in eastern and southern Africa (ESA), where smallholder agriculture is one of the most important contributors to food security and national economies. Soil salinisation is by no means a new phenomenon in the region. In predestined locations, such as near the coast or in the arid hinterland, farmers have been dealing with the problem for a long time and local knowledge systems on how to deal with the problem have evolved. Nevertheless, solutions that go beyond current farmers’ knowledge are becoming more and more urgent. Population growth and the resulting pressure on agricultural resources, combined with increasingly inhospitable climatic conditions, require timely and scientifically sound action to ensure sustainable resource management. At the international level, agricultural research has made far-reaching progress and identified a range of promising sustainable management options, commonly grouped under the buzzword ‘Saline Agriculture‘. However, corresponding knowledge networks are hardly developed in eastern and southern Africa. The bulk of research and development initiatives here focuses on other aspects of agriculture and climate change adaptation. Soil salinisation as a specific problem has received very little attention.
Our initiative focuses on closing this gap. The aim is to (1) implement application-oriented research (local piloting of innovative agronomic management approaches), (2) promote knowledge transfer and networking among researchers and practitioners in the region, as well as internationally, (3) along with awareness-raising work targeting the wider society. Original starting point was the regionally and thematically limited project ‘SaliHort’ on soil salinity management in vegetable production systems in southern Mozambique (2020 – 2022), which increasingly developed into a driving force for national and supraregional scientific networking on the topic and thus laid the foundation for the initiative presented here. The ESA Saline Agriculture Network understands itself as a living network that provides room for project-based work, events, and continuous technical exchange. New network members and institutional partners who share the vision and want to contribute to the initiative are always welcome!
Achievements so far:
- 3 years of practical piloting of Saline Agriculture techniques in open field vegetable production, following a Farmer Field School approach, having directly reached approximately 100 farmers
- 4 multi-institutional technical workshops on Saline Agriculture implemented
- 5 field excursions for knowledge sharing on soil salinity and its management in different production systems
- 2 international scientific conferences in which we participated
- 1 strategy paper on soil salinity and Saline Agriculture in Mozambique
- 9 university students successfully completed their theses research or internships on the topic of soil salinity management
- 1 international network on soil salinity in which we are active
- more than 15 institutions from 5 countries with which we established technical exchange on Saline Agriculture