Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Burkina Faso: Regenerating soil

Zai pit

Burkina Faso is classified by the World Food Programme as a food-deficit state, where frequent and prolonged droughts leave soils dry, hard and difficult to cultivate, particularly in the Sahelian north. Farmers in some communities are beginning to practice a variety of agroecological techniques designed to capture rainfall and runoff, retain soil moisture and ultimately offset the effects of drought. 

As farmers have adopted such techniques, some of which are being promoted by domestic and international NGOs, many find themselves newly able to grow enough food for their families, and in some cases, for local markets as well. Souobou Tiguidanla, a farmer from the village of Toumbenga in Gayeri, has nearly doubled his yields of maize, millet, and sorghum — from 1900 kg to 3900 kg per year.

Farmer Burkina Faso

Among the techniques utilized are contour bunds. These successive lateral ridges built of earth, vegetation or stone slow the flow of runoff on slopes and hillsides, allowing more water to infiltrate the soil while also reducing erosion. Composting of crop residues and cow manure also increases infiltration as well as soil quality.  

According to Tiguidanla, at times in the past his family went hungry; now he produces enough to share with neighbors in times of need. “I am very proud of these achievements,” he says. “My children are already learning to use the new practices and I am ready to teach others too.”

Photo: 180 Film & TV | Vimeo

Photo: Agricultures Network

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