by Letha Tawney
Farmers throughout the Bobo-Dioulasso region of Burkina Faso met last week to discuss the advantages of an innovative FAO project to sustainably intensify production in the moist savannah region. Pictured is the Kankota Baré Farmer Field School, meeting to report on the progress of their work. In a shared test plot, they have been growing a diversified range of crops using improved pest and soil management practices, under the guidance of an FAO trained farmer facilitator. They’re seeing improved yields with reduced inputs.
Resolving the lagging crop yields in West Africa is a complex issue, but FAO has been testing an integrated production system, based on conservation (no-till) agriculture with farmers in Burkina Faso since 2001. In their fifth season, the farmers are growing a broader range of cash and fodder crops, which stabilizes their livelihoods. The soil’s improved nutrient cycling is reducing the need for chemical fertilizer while improving yields and the soil’s improved water retention is lengthening the growing season. The long-term goal is to turn the moist savanna band across Africa into the breadbasket it has the potential to be, improving food security throughout the continent.