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Abstract

Increased agricultural productivity in the Sahel will require widespread diffusion of improved soil- and water-management practices that stimulate growth in a sustainable way. Techniques such as tied-ridges, animal traction, and fertilization can improve productivity but may not be viable unless used together. Improved soil and water management is required to produce a more fertile agronomic environment receptive to new high-yielding crop varieties needed to greatly expand productivity. However, environmental conditions, farmers' resources, inability to make complementary investments that would make such practices profitable, marketing channels, and institutional/policy arrangements constrain adoption of these techniques. Adoption rates can improve if new farming practices enhance soil and water conditions at modest cost, reduce the risk of food and capital loss during poor weather years, and relieve seasonal labor constraints. However, tandem improvements are necessary in input and product markets, rural institutions, and policies to stimulate adoption by creating opportunities and incentives at the farm level.

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