Food Security And Livelihood Profiles

Smallholders in the Sahel rarely depend on agricultural production as their only source of household revenue (Gladwin et al., 2001; Mortimore and Adams, 1999). This is also true for those classified as subsistence farmers. In the Old Peanut Basin, farmers obtain on average less than 20% of their annual income from crops, although the actual amount varies considerably depending on the specific set of livelihood strategies pursued by individual households. As illustrated in Figure 22.3, noncrop sources of income include animal husbandry, off-farm activities, and remittances from seasonal and long-term migration. Relying on just one strategy alone is not sustainable for these households. The result is a mosaic of 'multienterprise rural household or production units' in which diversification of the resource endowment is a common practice in order to spread and reduce risk (Hunt, 1991).

400 350 300 250 200 150-

2 100

400 350 300 250 200 150-

2 100

□ Remittances

Households per resource endowment group

Figure 22.3 Annual revenues per adult equivalent and resource endowment group in 35 sample households in 2001. 'Other' includes income from local market sales, monetary gifts, traditional cultural services (griots), and revenues for marabouts (religious leaders). (Based on data from household surveys, 2001.)

□ Remittances

Households per resource endowment group

Figure 22.3 Annual revenues per adult equivalent and resource endowment group in 35 sample households in 2001. 'Other' includes income from local market sales, monetary gifts, traditional cultural services (griots), and revenues for marabouts (religious leaders). (Based on data from household surveys, 2001.)

The annual revenues per adult equivalent (AE) in the research sample varied from $30 to $365 as shown in Figure 22.3. (Using adult equivalents per household instead of entire households as the unit of analysis compensates for unequal household sizes. The computation factors used were adult = 1, child [aged less than 15 years] = 0.5, and temporary adult resident = 0.25.) The variation suggests that farmers are not a homogenous group. The importance of food and cash crop production depends on the availability and reliability of alternative sources of income, in addition to other components of a household's resource endowment, such as labor, land, and access to markets and extension services. Having alternative sources of income obviously reduces the pressure on food production. What cannot be produced can at least be purchased.

Small-scale farmers are also quite diverse when it comes to production and consumption. Table 22.1 shows such variation for three resource endowment groups in 2001. The poor household (household 5 in Figure 22.3) relies solely on its crops and remittances, and uses all of its land for cultivation. Because of the reduced labor force of these households (5.5 AE), labor hours spent on crops clearly exceed those of the medium and rich household. High labor inputs might also explain the fact that crop yields are highest for these households. However, millet production is not sufficient to feed the family, and additional food must be purchased for 4 months. The medium household (household 21 in Figure 22.3) has more land and a larger labor force. The number of labor hours spent on crops is fairly high. Yet, overall millet production in 2001 could not satisfy all household food needs. Finally, the rich household (household 31 in Figure 22.3) relies primarily on its cattle and trading to generate income. Food production is less of a priority for these households. Despite an abundance of land, natural regeneration through fallow practices, and a large labor force, labor hours spent on crops are low and millet yields are roughly half of those achieved by the poor household. From a livelihood perspective, this is not a problem because these households have sufficient income to purchase supplemental millet year round.

Table 22.1 Production and Consumption Profiles for Three Types of Households Based on Resource Endowment, 2001

Poor Household

Total land available 1.42 (ha)

Land in production (ha) 1.42

Fallow (ha) Cropping pattern (ha)

Inputs on millet

Inputs on groundnuts

Medium Household

7.69

2.88 millet 2.49

groundnuts 0.19 groundnuts 0.,46 cowpeas

0.74 millet 0.49 sorghum

Adult equivalents (AE)*

Labor hours millet/AE* 47 (ha-1)

Labor hours 120

groundnuts/AE* (ha-1)

Average millet yields 893

(kg/ha-1) Millet total production 660 (kg)

Average groundnuts 773

yields (kg ha-1) Groundnuts total 150

production (kg) Expenditures millet 50

purchase ($) Months millet purchase 4 Income from crops ($) 5

350 kg ha-1 household waste

680 kg ha-1 household waste

1,280 kg ha-1 manure

14.5

1,300

Rich Household

17.32

12.58 4.74

6.20 millet 4.58 groundnuts

1.32 cowpeas 0.49 watermelon 27.7 kg ha-1 fertilizer 27 cows stubble grazing (2000/2001) 27 cows stubble grazing (1999/2000)

21 12 32

2,900

2,199

12 22

Source: Based on fieldwork (household surveys) completed in 2001.

The above description of households suggests that addressing household food insecurity through soil carbon sequestration requires consideration of much more than simply increasing aggregate household crop yields. The types of carbon management activities that make most sense to farmers will depend on their individual assets and livelihood options and strategies. Potential increases in household food supply will be the main concern for some. For others it will be additional income from otherwise unprofitable types of land use, such as long-term set-aside lands. Given this large variation in resource management practices, more than one "best" practice may be needed. The most promising "best" practices in terms of carbon storage and increased crop yields for the Old Peanut Basin are discussed in the next section.

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