The objective of the project is the regeneration of degraded, marginal land in collaboration with the local populations. Up to now 10500ha have been restored. The soils are worked with the special plough Delfino of the Vallerani System. Delfino creates micro basins in which the rain and runoff are collected and penetrate in depth boosting the development of roots, seeds of herbaceous species and the growth of healthy and vigorous trees. Biodiversity and the agro-forestry-pastoral production increase significantly ensuring long lasting food security and economic revenues to the population. These participate actively in the planning and implementation of the activities thus acquiring new knowledge and environmental responsibilities.
People’s and plant’s resilience increases concretely. Populations once again gain dignity and trust into the future, poverty and emigration reduce.
The project gives an important contribution to the fulfillment of the 3 UN Conventions and the Millennium Goals.
Vallerani System srl - ItalyLead applicant
NARDI SpA - ItalyInitiative partner
NARDI S.p.A established in Selci Lama (Perugia) Italy, has been manufacturing agricultural implements since 1895. Nardi operates in 85 countries around the world: foreign markets represent 70% of the group's revenue and 30% comes from its domestic market. “Implements for professional farming” is the slogan of the industrial group, which provides a comprehensive product range for professional farming: ploughs, cultivators, disc harrows, hoes, mechanical and pneumatic seed drills. To reach these goals, NARDI S.P.A is engaged in: better relationship and loyalty building with its dealers, investment in brand and promotion, development and consolidation in the abroad markets even through industrial partnerships, cooperation with the main tractors’ producers, careful after sale service, for life responsibility on spare parts, improving the quality of products which are increasingly manufactured with special micro alloy steels.
Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) / World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) - SwitzerlandInitiative partner
WOCAT, the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies, was initiated in 1992 by a concerned group of soil and water conservation specialists who identified the need to counter prevailing pessimistic views of land degradation and to promote the documentation, assessment, and dissemination of land conservation and restoration practices. Recently, WOCAT has promoted an initiative for enhancing knowledge management and decision support for scaling up sustainable land management (SLM). WOCAT provides tools and methods that enable SLM specialists to identify priority areas and enable them to share their valuable resource-management knowledge. WOCAT helps its Members identify appropriate SLM technologies and approaches and support them in making decisions in the field, in various levels of planning, and in scaling up best practices. The method also helps to identify knowledge gaps and initiate research like cost-benefit, on-site and off-site impact and carbon benefit analysis
Deserto Verde Burkinabè - SwitzerlandInitiative partner
Promoting, financing, active participation in the recovery of degraded soils in the Sahel Burkinabé. Better understanding and improvement of the technical and practical fight against desertification through direct seeding. Dissemination of the knowledge, data and practical results obtained. Supporting emergency measures.
Reach Italia - ItalyInitiative partner
Il SaD (Sostegno a Distanza) è collegato a progetti di cooperazione internazionale sviluppati a stretto contatto con le popolazioni locali. Con il co-sviluppo attiviamo rapporti di solidarietà internazionale, promozione della pace e di diritti umani tramite aiuti umanitari promossi dai paesi economicamente ricchi. Il nostro ufficio progetti studia e realizza importanti azioni per migliorare le condizioni di vita delle popolazioni in cui avviene l’intervento finanziato favorendone la crescita economica e il benessere sociale nel medio e nel lungo periodo. I progetti attivati dalla nostra associazione sono caratterizzati da: scolarizzazione e formazione professionale, costruzione d’infrastrutture, sostegno per lo sviluppo delle risorse naturali, assistenza sanitaria, recupero delle terre fortemente desertificate, costruzione di acquedotti e pozzi per l’acqua potabile.
Improving and sustaining agro-sylvo-pastoral systems in dryland. These guarantee food security to the population diversifying and enhancing household income opportunities, thus contributing to the overall socio-economic development of the concerned populations particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable groups: women and children. It applies the Vallerani System (VS), the mechanization of a traditional water harvesting technology to create, using the special plow Delfino, micro-catchment systems allowing direct seeding of native plants (trees, shrubs, crops and herbs) in desertified, abandoned land in collaboration with the local population. Fast ploughing speed allows to regenerate big surfaces, thus concretely reducing desertification processes in the area. Food and fodder raise in quantity and quality with a continuous improvement of biodiversity and soil fertility. The VS and it's technology has already been tested and utilized on more than 120,000 ha in 13 countries.
Technology: the plow Delfino conceived by Dr Vallerani. By means of a wave motion creates crescent-shaped micro basins 5-6 meters long, 40-50 cm wide and deep. It digs 10-20 micro basins per minute. These are joined together by the trace of a ripper 2-3 m long, 50-60 cm deep. Breaking the soil compaction facilitates the growth of roots and penetration in depth of rainwater. Each micro basin collects even with very low rainfall (200-500mm) up to 1000 liters of water thus reducing water erosion. Water available to crops, pastures and plants increases 2 to 4 times compared to untilled soil. The micro basins also collect organic matter, seeds and fine soil carried by wind and water, which increase fertility, biodiversity and production. Tractor speed allows to process 1.5-2 ha/hour. The technology has been validated in researches and projects of FAO, ICARDA, CILSS, UNIDO, WOCAT, CIRAD, Cooperation of many European countries, Chinese government, Universities, ONG’s and private sector.
The project is implemented in the north east of Sahel region, Burkina Faso. A cartography of the vegetation cover shows that bare, lateritic, eroded soil is over 26%. Constant increase of human and animal pressure, delay or lack of rain, inadequacy of traditional agriculture systems and tools, woodcut, overgrazing, inhibit the regeneration of natural resources, triggering erosion and desertification processes. Economic insecurity is rampant, families depend on a single harvest, which must ensure the nutritional intake for an entire year. Animal breeding, the main activity, is deeply affected by the scarce quantity and quality of pasture. Emigration and seasonal migration, while causing the breakup of society’s structure, are often the only chance to survive. The general scarcity of pasture (and water) and the practice of seasonal transhumance also from Niger and Mali, can lead to social tensions.
From an ecological point of view, the obtained average results, compared to the adjoining untilled soil and/or to traditional working methods, are: 350-500 resilient trees/ha; 2-4 times water availability; 5-30 times increase of quality and quantity of biomass production (pasture); 2-4 times increase of agricultural production; increase in biodiversity; strong ground water recharging; great CO2 storage; wild animals recurrence; reduced water and wind soil erosion; recover of the physical and chemical properties of the soil. All leads to a general soil restoration and reversion of the ongoing degradation and desertification processes. From a social point of view this bears to reduced hunger, poverty, migration and social tensions. Disadvantaged people are trained, gain an environmental awareness, regain their dignity and confidence in the future leading to more individual initiative and activity. Children attend school regularly. All this also has its positive economic aspect.
The direct beneficiaries are the poorest and most vulnerable families in the villages. The project involved about 18.000 agro-herders, of which at least 40% women (indirect beneficiaries estimated around 200.000). Due to environmental degradation over the past 50 years, agriculture is reduced and breeding has intensified. In recent decades, the herds have severely weakened and the number of animals is halved. The drop of milk production increases acute malnutrition, especially in children. Livestock are an important guarantee for food security as they can be sold when there is no more food nor cash
The specific needs on which we focus in the project are:
increase and restoration of the available land for agriculture and livestock
protection and enhancment of biodiversity
increase of quality and quantity of pasture, trees and water availability
resilience strengthening at local and regional level
dissemination of good practices of SLM involving local communities (up to now about 60)
2 social promoter of Reach Italia are mostly on the field involving the inhabitants of the villages, the biggest human resource. 6 tractor drivers and their assistants make the interventions on the soil. 1 driver, secretary, accountant and assistant accountant complete the operational team in Gorom. These are coordinated by a local coordinator and, from the headquarters in Ouagadougou, from the expatriate head of the Africa office and an accountant. They interact also with the other partners. The project team in Italy brings together consultants with different backgrounds, areas of expertise and levels of experience. The contribution of the inventor of VS Venanzio Vallerani and the technical consultant and trainer Alessandro Vallerani were crucial. Deserto Verde is mainly composed of forestry experts who have offered their expertise and generosity. The coordination of the work is managed by professionally trained personnel in the field of international cooperation.
The main difficulty is related with the technological aspect. The tractor and the Delfino plough are complex and their correct use is essential to obtain long lasting results and to prevent mechanical breakdowns. Over the years, a special training for tractor drivers has been done several times as the acquisition of all the skills and knowledge takes time.
At the start people were wary and only few villages wanted the intervention. A respectful and friendly relationship, local, good trained promoters, speaking on the obtained results and exchange visits have greatly augmented the request and the active participation in all phases.
The sowing was done with a special tube. Constant results control demonstrate that it could be done by hand so it became faster and doable for everyone.
About the seed quality: some stock were punctured by insects or musty. The village people get now clear instructions on how to keep the seeds and the purchase is made by a competent person.
The project applies direct sowing of seeds of native plants, i.e. already adapted to the local climate and environment. This allows each plant to grow following its own natural laws. The root system is deep and healthy boosting the restoration of the herbaceous and arboreal biodiversity (enriched 3 to 30 times both in quantity and quality) as well as the physical and chemical structure of the soil. Livestock graze and manure on the fields throughout the year contributing to continuous improvement of soil fertility. The VS allows to quickly regenerate big surfaces at a low cost, thus concretelly reducing desertification processes in the whole area.
“The animal biodiversity is largely enriched and we can also see the return of animals that we thought had disappeared forever like jackals, hyenas, wild guinea, hares, hedgehogs, squirrels, birds, reptiles, insects” (Konsy village chief, 2013). Hunting and sowing seeds of especially nutricious plants concur now to a healthier diet.
Among all the projects carried out with the VS the one described here has been the only desired and promoted by the civil society and also the most durable. This allowed a continuous improvement of all its aspects such as: the agronomic and forestry technique; the training of the technical staff and the social workers; the participatory approach; the relations with the authorities. The excellent experience and results achieved on all fronts as well as the constancy and commitment in their dissemination, have started a virtuous circle that has brought new donors to support the project itself but also the spread of the VS in new projects such as: Syno-Italian Cooperation project Afforestation in Inner Mongolia, China; FAO's Acacia project in 6 Sahel countries, an IFAD-UNIDO project in Marocco, an ICARDA project in Syria and Jordan; the ONG AGED starting a new project in Burkina Faso in 2013
Following is a list of the main initiatives implemented:
- Book publication "Un delfino rinverdisce i deserti" by V. Vallerani
- 2 documentary production, one by the Swiss TV and one by the Chinese state TV
- Participation in the Italian TV show "Alle falde del Kilimangiaro"
- Conferences in schools, universities, public events, forums, on the topics of: desertification, food security and sovereignty, biodiversity, water management and VS
- Scientific and broadcast publications on the VS by FAO, CILSS, WOCAT, ICARDA, CIRAD, DV, UNIDO, AFIP, UNCCD
- Organization of exhibitions, workshops, concerts and plays.
- documentary production by the Swiss Association Deserto Verde to be presented at EXPO2015 and FESPACO
- Development of:
- a training centre in Gorom Gorom, Burkina Faso
- Distance Learning programs
- a training program for immigrants returning to their country