Farmer field schools in Mali are not only training local farmers in best practices for optimum crop yields, they’re also providing improved variety seeds to them, encouraging them to become seed producers themselves. Africa RISING’s large-scale Diffusion of Technologies for Sorghum and Millet Production Systems (ARDT_SMS) Farmer Field Schools in West and Central Africa are game-changers on their farms and in their villages.
Meet Mrs Aminata Diawara, an entrepreneur driving a thriving seed production model, who is contributing to her family and community in a big way since 2014.
Mrs Aminata Diawara took up seed production, inspired by the success of a group of pilot seed multipliers. “One day as I was passing by the road that leads to our farm, I saw a beautiful field of sorghum. The crop in that field was so impressive that I went and met the owner who informed me that it was a demonstration plot carried out in the village by a Farmer Field School group.” Before the start of the next cropping season, Aminata went back to the farmer. He introduced her to other members of the cooperative and she too joined the group.
In 2017, Aminata experimented with the Tiandougou coura sorghum variety on half a hectare. The next year, she opted for Grinkan Yerewolo variety and in 2019 increased her plot size to one hectare. “In 2019, I harvested 900 kg of seed, part of which (400 kg) was sold to a farmer’s organization in Sierra Leone for FCFA 200,000 (US$ 332). My seeds have traveled to places I had never heard about! With money earned in this operation, I have purchased animals for fattening at FCFA 125,000 (US$ 205). I paid off some debts and contributed to the children’s school fees. I bought two plow oxen and invested in composting. I have joined a women’s group where I am building up my savings little by little, up to FCFA 750 (about US$ 2) per month,” says Aminata.
Aminata’s husband, Mr Souleymane Diawara, too, has participated in several trials and demonstrations of improved sorghum varieties and hybrids. The couple is now a model in quality seed production. There is a recognition about their work, and a change in their image and social status in their community. “Thanks to ARDT-SMS project, we’re consulted and our opinions count in decision-making for this village,” says Souleymane. “My wife is an improved seed producer and important personalities visit the plots she runs, that makes me even more proud of her.”
Souleymane and Aminata have bought a motorbike at FCFA 365,000 (US$ 600) and acquired land for house construction for FCFA 250,000 (US$ 415) in the urban center of Bougouni, near Bamako, Mali’s capital city. A huge financial breakthrough for a small farming family!
For more on ICRISAT’s work in Mali, click here.
To read this in French, click here: (see page 18)
About the author:
Head – Regional Information
ICRISAT – West and Central Africa