Integrating agroforestry and sheep feed in Mali

The challenge

Sheep herding plays a significant role in the livelihoods of rural households in Mali and other semi-arid countries of West Africa.

Although sheep herding could improve the incomes of rural women, its potential is not being realized because a lack of feed reduces the meat production of sheep.

Agroforestry offers the potential for better herd management, as it can supply nutrients not otherwise available.

The research

This project, supported by IDRC and GAC through the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), will improve incomes for poor rural women in Mali by investigating the potential of woody species that can serve both as sheep forage and as the backbone of a productive agroforestry system. Whereas residues from crops and other feed are generally unavailable during the dry season, woody species are available year-round and can supply valuable nutrition during this period.

The project will test different species of woody forage crops for nutritional content, sheep preference, and sheep growth rates, and will investigate how these species can be incorporated into agroforestry practices to increase the production of both human and animal foodstuffs.

Expected outcomes

  • Identification of feed for sheep that comes from trees
  • Improved production of sheep meat
  • Improved food security and income in rural households
  • Improved soil conditions and prevention of environmental deterioration
  • Improved food production as part of an agroforestry system

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

End Date

Friday, August 1, 2014


42 months

IDRC Officer

Innocent Butare

Total funding

CA$ 1,842,222



Project Leader

Hamidou Nantoumé


Institut d'économie rurale

Project Leader

Alain Olivier


Université Laval

Institution Website

Project Leader

Sidiki Gabriel Dembelé


Institut Polytechnique Rural de Formation et de Recherche Appliquée de Katibougou (IPR/IFRA)