Given their high agricultural production potential, inland valleys (IVs) are considered to provide opportunities to improve food and nutrition security for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), particularly in the face of climate change. With an estimated surface area of 190 M ha, IVs are common landscapes in SSA. Besides agricultural production – IVs provide local communities with forest, hunting and fishing resources. They are important as water storage, climate hazard buffer zones, and biodiversity hot spots. Only 3.75 M ha (2%) of IV potential is currently used for rice — with a paddy production of 7.1 Mt, i.e. 4.25 Mt milled rice. Degradation of natural resources, as a result of indiscriminate IV development for the sole purpose of agricultural production must be avoided. Development should focus on IVs that combine agricultural production potential with resilience to degradation of natural resources and a (relative) low value of other ecosystem services. Potential or existing conflicts between IV stakeholders should be avoided or resolved, in institutional settings such as multi-stakeholder innovation platforms. Capitalizing the IV potential sustainably requires an effective and systematic approach. A range of methodologies and tools to characterize IVs and optimize their resource use have been developed and applied in the past but never been tested and validated in an integrated manner. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to enhanced food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation and climate resiliency of local communities in Africa by identifying optimal resource use strategies of IVs, and to ensure sustainable and productive use of IVs for rice-based production systems. The target group of the project are smallholder rice farmers and other IV resource users with an expected number of about 2,000 beneficiaries.
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