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

See all articles by Ben Orlove

Ben Orlove

School of International and Public Affairs Columbia University MC 3323

Carla Roncoli

Emory University

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Orlove, Ben and Roncoli, Carla, Water Grows Food: Dry Season Farming, Food Sovereignty, and Integrated Water Resource Management in Burkina Faso (2012). Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, Bulletin No. 88, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2240483

Ben Orlove (Contact Author)

School of International and Public Affairs Columbia University MC 3323 ( email )

420 West 118th Street, room 833
New York, NY 10027
United States
+1 (212) 854 1543 (Phone)

Carla Roncoli

Emory University ( email )

201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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