From rocks hemming in water on farms to large surface reservoirs for irrigation, farmers in northern Burkina Faso, where recent good rains have turned dry fields into lush croplands, are being encouraged to use low-cost techniques to boost output and ride out recurrent droughts.
Furrows and ridges channel and hold water on farms around Ouahigouya in the country’s arid North Region, where subsistence agriculture is the main source of income.
“We have to work on productivity… Much of the land needs to be restored. It needs compost and water catchment measures,” said Amidou Ouattara, director of the Association for Rural Development and Training (AFDR), a local NGO in the region.
“Rainfall is erratic. Sometimes it’s too much and other times it’s not enough. It is also poorly distributed.”
AFDR has trained hundreds of farmers in Ouahigouya to revamp simple traditional methods to capture and store rainwater. Ouattara said farmers using the techniques have seen their yields improve.
“Many of our trainees who used to produce 400-500kg of millet per hectare in a good year now produce a ton. Things will definitely improve as other farmers look at their neighbours and become eager to invest in their fields,” he said.
“People around here didn’t harvest much last year. I have been lucky. I have been able to fill my granary,” said Ousmane Sawadogo, a farmer in Ouahigouya. But luck is not exactly what made Sawadogo’s field more fertile than his neighbors’. “I have put in a lot of work in my field and it worked out,” added Sawadogo who uses different water catchment methods learnt from AFDR.
Some two million people have been affected by severe food shortages and high food prices in Burkina Faso in 2012. However, this year’s growing season is estimated to be better than average in most of the regions and average in a few, USAID’s Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) said.
Read more of the story here at the IRIN news service:
BURKINA FASO: Low-cost steps for long-term food security