In Spring 2020, the NGO Oxfam warned about the grave food crisis in the making in West Africa. The world health crisis linked to the Coronavirus adds to the problems of insecurity and drought affecting the sub-region. Basing itself on the estimations of the CEDEAO, Oxfam fears that this food crisis menaces 50 million people with famine. The causes of this fear are the difficulty of access and an increase in prices, as much of food products as of agricultural inputs. These phenomena are linked to measures taken by governments (lockdown, curfew, limited transport), coupled with the closure of borders and the global economic crisis.
In the region of Yako, province of Passoré, where Foundation Antenna is present with an agroecological didactic farm, the danger is linked principally to the difficulty to supply imported foodstuffs and agricultural inputs for local production. A sufficient production during the 2020 wintering is thus crucial to limit the risks of famine in the region during the year 2020. The limited access to agricultural inputs (principally seeds/fertilisers) risks to hamper success with dramatic consequences. The populations especially at risk are those displaced by conflicts in the North of the country and installed in the region of Passoré. These populations are the principal beneficiaries of this humanitarian action.
The AgroEcology Unit, in collaboration with its partner agronomist and hydro-pedologist Kalifa Zida, has put in place an action to facilitate the supply of inputs (seeds and fertilisers) of the poorest producers in the region. A field survey was undertaken to identify 100 producers with limited means, interested by the purchase of inputs at discounted prices. A cargo of inputs of good quality was bought in the capital Ouagadougou, transported, then stocked in the town of Yako. From mid-May to mid-June, these inputs were sold to selected producers at a price 30 % below the purchase price. That 30 %, as well as the operational costs, are covered by the AgroEcology Unit of the Antenna Foundation by way of a humanitarian operation in the context of COVID-19.
The quantity of inputs sold enables the rotation and the adapted fertilisation of 100 hectares in maize (10 ha), millet (20 ha), sorghum (30 ha) and cowpea (40 ha). The following quantities of inputs were moved :
- 200 kg of maize seeds
- 120 kg of millet seeds
- 240 kg of sorghum seeds
- 480 kg of cowpea seeds
- 3’500 kg of NPK fertiliser
- 3’000 kg of urea
The inputs are sold in kits containing the seeds of the 4 species and the necessary fertilisers for a maximum of 1 ha. The kit for 1 ha costs 24’000 CFA (CHF 38.50) and contains :
- 2 kg of maize seeds
- 4 kg of sorghum seeds
- 2 kg of millet seeds
- 8 kg of cowpea seeds
- 35 kg of NPK fertiliser
- 30 kg of urea
Such quantities permit supplies to a minimum of 100 producers. In case of purchases for a smaller surface, the producer cannot buy more fertiliser than the quantity recommended for that surface. As from a surface of 2000 m2, the purchase must obligatorily contain several species.
With each purchase, a recommendation on the utilisation of the inputs is made, especially on the necessity to use mineral fertiliser in parallel to an organic contribution (manure, compost).
The principal aim to participate in the reduction of the food crisis and famine linked to the coronavirus crisis is achieved by the production on 100 hectares of 185 tons of cereals. In comparison with the usual production of the region with inputs of lower quality and insufficient quantity, it is estimated that it represents 80 tons more production, allowing to feed about 25’000 persons, being a tenth of the inhabitants of Passoré. The poorest producers benefitting from the action dispose of a sufficient harvest for their needs and can sell the excess.
In addition, the action allows one to undertake a short sensitisation on the sensible use of agricultural inputs for 100 to 150 producers in the region. It permits the promotion of varieties of cereals and cowpea with a high yield. The varieties chosen are not hybrids, so as to allow the producers to use the seeds in the ensuing years and no longer depend on the distributors of industrial seeds.
Finally, the action enables the establishment of contacts between the producers in the region and the agroecological didactic farm of the Antenna Foundation and their interest in the agroecological practices demonstrated on the site.