ECHO: ECHO Training Impacts Rural Farmers in Burkina Faso

Emile is a small-scale farmer working in Kouka, a town located in the west of the province Banwa in the Black Volta region also known as "the breadbasket of Burkina Faso." Kouka is in the cotton belt of Burkina which is renowned for the extensive use of chemical inputs by producers. This dependence on chemical inputs has increased budgets for farmers and consequentially has begun a spiral of impoverishment in the region despite good crop production. Much of the farmer's income is spent on repaying loans for chemicals and medical care, leaving little room for investment.

After attending an ECHO conference, Emile implemented a method of farming called Foundations for Farming (FFF) to one of his fields. Other farmers in the region scoffed at him for digging holes and planting according to the methods he had learned. However, to everyone’s surprise, there was a great harvest: not only did his FFF field produce well, but the crop yields were higher on his field with FFF than those in which he had applied his old practices. The entire Kouka farming community took notice and those who scoffed were now asking him about his methods.

Emile was inspired to share FFF with peer farmers that are organized in a GPC (Cotton Producers Group). He voluntarily trained 15 members of the GPC in Kouka, and six other farms experimented with the FFF method. Emile taught them how to use FFF with maize and they have also applied it to sorghum, cotton, and millet. Tougouma Amadé, a member of the group, applied the FFF method to his cotton field and produced 2.3 tons per hectare in a single season where he had been only producing 700 to 900kg before. Gansonré Boureima, another member, doubled his maize production. And, Boureima Zongo is full of words of praise for Emile and the FFF method that allowed him to also double its cotton production at a cheaper cost.

Testimonials such as these testify to the benefits of the FFF method and illustrate a direct impact of the ECHO forums in the lives of farmers in Kouka. According to these farmers, with this method, they have managed to reduce the area planted while increasing performance and soil fertility. Every farmer involved saw their crop performance double or triple. Despite some difficulties inherent in introducing any innovation, all of them are calling for new trainings on FFF methods.