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ECONOMIC DIFFERENTIATION AND SAFEGUARD AGAINST HUNGER IN SOUTHERN NIGER OF SAHEL REGION: AGRO-LANDSCAPE AND MULTI-PURPOSE TREE USE OF HAUSA FARMERS
This paper focused on the multi-purpose use of trees on farmland and people’s responses against food shortages in a Hausa village of southern Niger. People living in Sahel region on Niger face the challenge of unstable agricultural production. The challenge is linked to the high levels of poverty in the region. This region has desertification problem as land degradation. At the same time as advancing desertification, the population is rapidly increasing. The combined factors of land degradation and rapid population increase reduce available agricultural land per capita and lead to food insecurity, and the inhabitants of the Sahel region experience chronic food shortages. The wealth households own large farmland, and they are able to produce sufficient pearl millet for their staple food to support their livelihoods throughout the year. In the poor harvest years, they have sufficient money to purchase staple foods. However, many of the other households struggle to survive each year, and they are unable to invest to the following year’s agricultural production. This situation cause the economic differentiation in the village. But from the situation of tree management in the village, the wealth households manage Balanites aegyptiaca on their farmland to provide famine food for the poor households. The poor people can obtain leaves and fruits of B. aegyptiaca at the farmlands of the wealth households. This free access to famine food indicates existence of a safety net against food shortages in Hausa villages.
Key words: tree management, Balanites aegyptiaca, desertification, famine food, Hausa, Niger