In areas of Burkina Faso where farming families grapple with malnutrition and erratic rainfall, MCC-supported food security projects are making a difference in farmers’ fields and on families’ tables.
James Souder of Harrisonburg, Va., served in Burkina Faso through MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program in 2015-2016. Here is a collection of photos from his visits to MCC food projects.
Before this MCC-supported community garden project began in Koti, the nearest source of fresh produce was villages 15 kilometres or more away. Even small amounts of vegetables were too expensive for most families.
Today, though, farmers such as Marie Sanou, front left, and Bikone Gao, front right, harvest nutritious onions, tomatoes and cabbages even during the dry season. That’s critical in an area where malnutrition is common and some 30 per cent of children under five experience stunted growth.
In addition to selling surplus crops, farmers are encouraged to eat what they grow and to consider crops like lettuce, often thought of as a special food for occasions like Christmas or baptisms, as part of an everyday, healthy diet.
Farmers in Yé sketch half moons in their fields, digging the soil inside the moons and then mixing in organic fertilizer from their livestock. The soil in the moons captures and holds rain from torrential storms, helping to prevent erosion, better nourish plants and increase yields.
It’s changed the lives of farmers like Etienne Tiendrébeogowe. Thanks to this and other techniques promoted by MCC partner Office of Development of Evangelical Churches (ODE), he says, “Our family spends less time working in the field and we receive larger crop yields than in the past.”
MCC supports agricultural work with ODE through its account at Canadian Foodgrains Bank and its partnership with the U.S.-based Foods Resource Bank.
Teaching the principles of conservation agriculture and intercropping is part of the work MCC supports through ODE, helping farmers such as Adama Kaboré, shown with his sorghum harvest in Kolghinguesse. In intercropping, for instance, cowpeas often are planted among staple crops like sorghum and maize. They not only increase the health of the soil but also provide farmers with an additional cash crop.
Ideally, farmers combine these techniques with other efforts. That includes saving seeds from one harvest to use in the next harvest and cultivating moringa, a drought-tolerant tree whose leaves are rich in protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and minerals.
Wells and training provided through MCC and ODE make this community garden in Koti an oasis of green, even during the dry season. This bounty improves income as well as nutrition. “The sale of the produce helped me tremendously,” says Vincent Sanou, a father of six, who used earnings to buy a goat to breed for another source of income, a door and two windows to complete his home, a bike, rice, mobile phone credit and clothes. In turn, as Sanou and others sell their surplus, produce is available locally, benefiting the community as a whole.
Korotimi Belem, a mother of five in the village of Yé, has taken part in ODE’s gardening program for three years. “In the past, whenever we went to the hospital with our children, nurses knew that our children were not well fed. We did not understand and we did not have the means to buy vegetables for our children,” she says. “Now that we produce our own vegetables, this problem is solved and our children are rarely sick and they grow normally. Now we always consume vegetables. As a mother, it is a joy to see your children in great health. We have fewer worries and we grow vegetables in the dry season, so we now also have money to buy better clothing and participate in the development of our village.”