Specialisation or diversification? Divergent perspectives on rice farming in three large dam-irrigated areas in the Sahel

Specialisation or diversification? Divergent perspectives on rice farming in three large dam-irrigated areas in the Sahel

This report is based on the main lessons and recommendations from three case studies analysing the strategies, aspirations and constraints of the various types of farmers living around the dams of Bagré (Burkina Faso), Sélingué (Mali) and Niandouba/Confluent (Senegal). The research aims to contribute to ongoing national and regional discussions on the policies and programmes needed to improve rice cultivation in dam-irrigated perimeters and to support farmers’ livelihoods.

The study areas offer significant potential in terms of water and land. However, the author suggests that harnessing this effectively would mean tackling some crucial issues, including:

  1. Selecting approaches for public investment that guarantee high returns at reduced cost while securing access to land for smallholders.
  2. Building up farmers’ social capital to empower them to play a key part in the governance of irrigated perimeters.
  3. Taking into account family farms’ many roles when designing and supplying agricultural services.
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