Thanks to adaptation, farmers in Burkina Faso see strong harvests, despite drought

• November 6, 2012
Farmers in Burkina Faso

Creative Commons: Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, 2011

The droughts in Burkina Faso could have been deadly for small farmers who rely on agriculture for income. Thanks to climate adaptation techniques and education from, these farmers are seeing impressive harvests despite the odds. The following blog post is excerpted from one by Alistair Dutton, Caritas Internationalis Humanitaian Director. Read more: 

“After what has been a very trying and anxious time for the people of Burkina Faso this year, it is a great pleasure to be with them at harvest time. The rains have been much better than recent years and the country is buzzing with life; the ponds, lakes and reservoirs are full with copious water lilies in bloom; the land is lush and verdant, the animals are healthy and lively; the crops, those that haven’t been harvested yet at least, are tall and heavy with grain. The roads are full of motorbikes loaded up with crates of vegetables being taken to market, while lorries from Ghana trawl the villages to buy grain and vegetables to take down to the markets of Tamale, Kumasi and Accra.

Thanks to Caritas this year, Jean Baptiste Kinda is preparing to harvest his tomatoes, aubergines and other vegetables, and sell them in the local market in Fada to buy some of the things his family have waited for throughout the lean season. With Caritas help Jean Baptiste was able to double the amount of land he farmed this year and, with well chosen seeds and appropriate fertilisers, he looks forward to a bumper harvest. Meanwhile Florence and Veronique are pounding the corn that they have harvested.

Looks can be misleading and exploring beyond first impressions reveals a more complicated story. While the early rains were good and the seeds germinated and grew well, the final rains finished early, preventing the plants from maturing fully. While the animals have recovered now, it is only a few months since they were very weak and sickly; many died and many were sold for pitiful prices, greatly reducing people’s already scarce assets.

Much more needs to be done to improve people’s resilience in the face of the increasingly hostile and erratic climate and enable them to develop more sustainable and durable livelihoods.”

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