Water Grows Food: Dry Season Farming, Food Sovereignty, and Integrated Water Resource Management in Burkina Faso
Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, Bulletin No. 88, 2012
Posted: 29 Mar 2013
Date Written: 2012
Karim could be confused with one of millions of African smallholder farmers who tend small plots of land for their subsistence. He grows three hectares of maize and one hectare of vegetables in a small village in southwestern Burkina Faso. He and his family plow their field with a pair of oxen, and weed it with hand-held hoes. When asked where the water comes from for his crops, Karim answers, “God.”
But there is a lot more to Karim’s story than this succinct anecdote can convey. Karim cultivates the three hectares of maize and one hectare of vegetables during the dry season, in addition to the crops he grows during the wet season. These dry season crops are not primarily destined for the household, but are sold in local markets, and some are even exported to Ivory Coast. He uses a diesel powered pump and a series of PVC pipes to direct water from a nearby river to irrigate his fields. He grows two improved varieties of maize and applies herbicides before planting. He purchases improved vegetable seeds from a private distributor who gets them shipped directly from Europe. Pest pressure is high, so he applies multiple applications of different, crop-specific pesticides to his vegetable and maize crops. He also makes multiple applications of mineral fertilizers. Much of these investments are done with very little support from government or non-governmental organizations.
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