Rengba, 39 degrees. In this small village located in the north of Burkina Faso, this very hot and dry wind is already rearing its head. Ronga Ouedraogo, in his late fifties, is using his hoe, the daba, to remove the weeds in the middle of his vegetable garden where there is a bright array of fruit and vegetables. Everything is organic here. Millet, sorghum, beans.
“It is currently the potato production period”, explains Rengba. “Towards the end of January it will be for onions. And in June it’s corn, peppers, aubergines and potato roots.” On his 1.5 hectares of land, Rengba grows several products depending on the period. He plays on crop rotation: “It guarantees productivity and improves soil fertility.” This is a foolproof technique for reacting to seasons which have become irregular and to increasingly scarce rainfall.
Ronga Oudréaogo combines other techniques to improve soil fertility. Agroforestry for example. This technique which involves letting trees grow – or planting them – in the middle of fields. The aim is to have a positive impact on factors as crucial as water, soil, the climate, biodiversity… But the experienced farmer goes even further. He also uses compost, which he makes himself using plant debris, such as corn stalks: “Here, we refuse to use anything chemical. We make the preparation in our own compost heaps”.
SELLING AND MAKING A LIVING FROM ORGANIC PRODUCE
The biggest challenge for this father of three children is to manage to sell his production on markets, which are already flooded with other fruits and vegetables that look bigger, but are enriched with fertilizers and other chemicals. “The competition is tough”, admits the farmer. Thankfully, mentalities are changing: “Before, people didn’t understand why they should choose our organic vegetables. But in recent years, they have been asking for them more and more”, Ronga is happy to say.
This new trend is the result of the work of ARFA, supported by AFD. The association has launched an extensive agroecology and organic awareness and promotion campaign among populations. With a current result of 40 villages reached and over 1,800 farmers converted to organic farming, the association is working across Burkina Faso, in the north, east and center-east of the country. It is also scaling up its work on promoting agroecology based on two areas: the social aspect and farming techniques. The aim is that other farmers – and consumers – will continue to join the organic path dug by Ronga Oudréaogo.