Dr Alassan ASSANI SEIDOU (Benin)

Alassan’s research interest focuses on the nexus of farming systems, food security, and climate change. The aim of his research project is to assess the ecological, social, and economic effectiveness of agrosilvopastoral and silvopastoral practices. With his work, Alassan wants to contribute to the development of sustainable climate adaptation strategies in the livestock sector of Benin.

PhD in Agricultural Sciences, Animal Husbandry and Livestock Systems Modelling

Current position: Researcher at the Laboratory of Ecology, Health and Animal Production (LESPA), University of Parakou, Benin

Research focus: agroforestry, socio-ecological approach, and sustainable adaptation strategies

Climate change is an obstacle to the socio-economic development of rural populations. It is causing a rise in temperature and often a different distribution of precipitation. Sub-Saharan Africa, where agriculture is the main source of employment and income for the majority of the population, appears to be the region of the world most exposed to climate change. 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the livestock sector. The livestock sector is central to many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly with regard to food security and livelihoods, human health, and ecosystem sustainability.

The challenge today is to maintain a balance between livestock production and climate change. Alassan is meeting this challenge by focusing on improving livestock production systems to reduce enteric methane and maintain carbon mainly in soil.

For this purpose, he examines agrosilvopastoral (integrating crop, livestock, and trees) and silvopastoral (integrating trees, forage, and the grazing of domesticated animals) practices that are poorly understood in the context of climate change in Benin. Through repeated exposure to drought and consequent livestock feed shortage, smallholders farmers in northern Benin have already developed various indigenous agrosilvopastoral and silvopastoral practices using local tree species.

As an agroforestry system, agrosilvopastoral and silvopastoral systems can increase carbon sequestration, offset greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and reduce the carbon footprint generated by animal production. However, the evaluation of the ecological, social, and economic effectiveness of these agrosilvopastoral and silvopastoral practices has never been the subject of a scientific investigation in Benin. Likewise, the perceptions of smallholder farmers with regard to these practices and the factors determining their adoption decisions have never been scientifically addressed.

Alassan’s research project aims to fill this gap. It is based on a socio-ecological approach combining scientific and traditional knowledge of the different actors involved in the livestock sector. Alassan is going to use tools of participatory modelling and socio-ecological systems.

The use of the socio-ecological approach and companion modelling are new in the field of assessing sustainability of complex systems in tropical Africa, particularly agrosilvopastoral and silvopastoral systems. Alassan expects that his research will make it possible to reconcile local and scientific knowledge in order to propose sustainable solutions to the nexus of farming systems, food security, and climate change. With outputs from his work he intends to inform policymakers to enforce regulations on the sustainable livestock sector in Benin and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

Alassan’s research intention impressed the jury with its potential to provide urgently needed insights for developing effective strategies in the livestock sector to cope with climate change in Benin.