Africa: Stratification and synthesis of crop-livestock production system using GIS
Information related to crop and livestock systems in West Africa is currently available from various sources (e.g. household surveys, aerial surveys, rural appraisal, and experiments) and held by different agencies. Such data (biophysical and socio-economic) can be integrated within a GIS (geographical information systems) environment and synthesized to identify the evolution of systems across environments and also to identify constraints and potential of the systems. The potential for integrated crop-livestock systems remains untapped and/or knowledge of its existence is unknown for large parts of Nigeria. A case study of the entire country, subdivided into the major agro-climatic zones, is presented to show how emerging crop-livestock systems can be predicted using GIS techniques, data from case studies, and geo-referenced, nationwide data on cropping intensities and animal population (cattle, sheep and goats). Data used as input included information on crop residues, farmyard manure and draught animals (animal power). The potential contribution of these research methods is largely unknown in West and Central Africa, where few operational programmes use them. Major technological innovations and appropriate government policies and regional planning have potential to shift the balance in regional developments, if targeted carefully at areas where the right conditions exist.