To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

May 29, 2011

Burkina Faso’s farming miracle

by Duncan Green

Just been reading ‘Helping Africa to Feed Itself: Promoting Agriculture to Reduce Poverty and Hunger’, a paper by Steve Wiggins and Henri Leturque, both of the ODI. It’s a brilliant and to my mind, very fair overview, with one of its main messages being that regional generalizations about Africa are usually misleading – some subregions of Africa (eg West and North) have actually done very well in producing food and feeding their populations (not always the same thing), while others (e.g. southern Africa) have bombed. One box particularly jumped out – on the extraordinary success of Burkina Faso.

“The statistics are remarkable. Since the early 1960s output in cereals in Burkina has grown at an annual average of 3.5% a year, well ahead of population growth, a rate that matches that of Vietnam (see chart).

Production of rice in Vietnam and cereals in Burkina Faso, 1961/65 to 2001/05

How has this generally unheralded success been achieved? In the 1960s the central plateau of Burkina was an area of average rainfall in the range 500–700mm, poor soils, and yields of cereals — mainly millet and sorghum — of just 500kg/ha. With such meagre resources, many of the able-bodied young men migrated to find better work, often to Côte d’Ivoire and other countries to the south. But since then field surveys reveal the following changes:

Soil and water have been conserved, most notably by use of stone bunds and improved traditional planting pits (‘zai’) to retain water and topsoil;

Trees have been planted, livestock have been kept in semi-intensive systems and the manure gathered and applied to the fields; and,

Collective institutions to manage wells, natural resources, village cereal banks and schools have multiplied.

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by

Back to TOP