The Sahelian zone stretches across Africa from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east, passing through Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. The Sahel transition zone is adjacent to the southern boundary of the Sahara Desert, and its agriculture usually is limited by droughts. Since 1970, the droughts have been even more extreme, and major food crops produced little food and little forage was available for livestock. Millions of people living in the Sahel have suffered from famine and hundreds of thousands of people have died. As of 1974, it was estimated that the livestock population had decreased by about 80%. In the early 1970s, while working as an agronomist/ Professor at the University of California in Riverside and conducting collaborative research in Senegal, Dr. Hall designed a partial agronomic solution to these droughts. In implementing this solution, he collaborated with African students and scientists to breed cowpea varieties that could withstand these droughts and provide food for people and livestock alike. Early-flowering cowpea varieties with resistance to drought, various pests and diseases were bred by researchers in California, Senegal, Sudan and Ghana. Cowpea varieties were released in Senegal, Sudan and Ghana that have produced significant amounts of food in years when traditional cowpea varieties and other staple food crops died out. Enhanced cowpea breeding and agronomy programs now are being conducted by African scientists in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Sudan. (Imprint: Nova)
“Anthony Hall’s Sahelian Droughts a Partial Agronomic Solution
is an important and engaging book that I would recommend for development practitioners, as well as researchers and policy makers who care about the fate of this fragile region and its people. This historical, easy-to-read narrative points out that most of the critical issues facing the region today were recognized more than 40 years ago, and how a partial agronomic solution to many of the issues such as low soil fertility, overgrazing, drought, evolved over time based on building experience in the region, its environmental characteristics and its scientific and social knowledge. Several of the great things about the book are its conversational style that is crisp and clear such that principles of biology and physics, plant breeding and agronomy, are conveyed through clear logic-filled English allowing non-experts in these fields to grasp the logic and content of was is being articulated. Interwoven are the social and political aspects that affect the research and technology adoption agenda, and thus food security in this part of the world. Beyond the specific solutions it presents to help boost livelihoods in the Sahel, its personal accounts of scientific discovery, by the author and his colleagues, offer a window into the crop scientists world that will hopefully stimulate young scientists to take up emerging challenges with the foresight, logic and rigor of the author.” - Dr. Jeff Ehlers , Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr. Tony Fischer, FAIA (Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agriculture); FTSE (Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering); Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America; Honorary Fellow at CSIRO Food and Agriculture, Canberra, Australia. To read the review, click here
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