chapter  7
Bringing Land Back In: Changing Strategies to Improve Agricultural Production in the West African Sahel 1
WithThomas M. Painter
Pages 20

This chapter concerns the difficulties encountered by programs of the Niger government and development assistance organizations to increase agricultural productivity among the country's peasant smallholders. It presents an overview of the harsh yet varied physical conditions of rainfed production in Niger. The chapter describes the strategy of the Niger government to effect improvements in rainfed agriculture, particularly after a serious drought that lasted from 1968 to 1974. It argues that whatever the specific nature of technological innovations introduced to improve agriculture, the chances of success will depend a great deal on careful attention to the physical and socioeconomic characteristics of the production setting. The situation of fragile soils and a very harsh climate is complicated by the impact of the cultivation techniques used by peasant smallholders throughout Niger. The specific weaknesses of the Niamey Project's "problem-solving" strategy reflect problems long suffered by all productivity projects in Niger.