Experimental wheat cultivation under the Keita project - - Keita Integrated Development Project: GCP/NER/028/ITA. The Keita Integrated Development Project was launched in 1984 following an accord between the governments of Niger and Italy. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been in charge of executing the project. The Keita District has suffered a steady decline in agricultural production over the years because of drought, desertification and population growth. The immediate objectives of the project were to improve agricultural techniques and increase soil productivity; to increase the availability of water; to fight erosion, and to strengthen roads and infrastructure. The Keita project has enjoyed strong popular participation and support and many activities and priorities have been identified by the farmers themselves. Women have been especially active and made up nearly 90% of the work force at first since most economically active men migrate in search of seasonal labour for an average of six months a year. Activities have included land reclamation, soil and water conservation, reforestation, crop production, rural engineering, training, and setting up credit and alternative incomes. The construction of wells, schools, and dispensaries as well as maternal care centres is aimed at improving health and nutrition. The long term objectives of the Keita project are to reduce the food deficit, to halt land degradation and to strengthen local institutions.