Fruitful and empowering years, is how Mrs Afou Ouattara of N’Tobougou Commune, Sikasso region describes her three-year association with the ARDT_SMS project. This 45-year-old mother of four has witnessed and personally experienced changes in production practices brought about by the project in her village, be they in the form of microdosing, composting or improved varieties of sorghum.
Sorghum cultivation had almost been totally abandoned before the project, with maize and potatoes ruling the roost. Says Afou, “We never would have imagined it would be possible to achieve yield of 3,500 kg/ha from a hectare sown to sorghum. The demonstration fields confirmed this for us in our village in 2015-2016. Willing to see how it works, in 2016-2017 I convinced my husband to place one hectare at my disposal. I brought organic manure and seeds of sorghum variety Pablo that the project had introduced. I followed all the instructions the extension agent gave on production practices.’’ Sorghum is an indispensable alternative that ensures food self-sufficiency. Stalks of variety Pablo are much enjoyed by livestock.
Elaborating on the benefits accrued from this move, Afou says, “I can harvest around 1800 kg of sorghum, a huge contrast to the previous years when my family could barely extract 100 kg from a quarter hectare! My husband and I decided to set aside 800 kg for home consumption and sell the rest later when we can obtain a higher price. This meant I would have to store them till then. I was able to get 10 PICS (Purdue Improved Crop Storage) bags from a vendor to store the 1000 kg to be sold. Incidentally, the vendor promised to buy my sorghum since the grains were clean and good.”
Proving that the adoption of right production practices can lead to substantial benefits, Afou compares the stark gains/losses from her harvest in 2018: “Our household’s entire potato harvest went for a low price of CFA 75/kg (approximately US$ 0.13) in the market since they had not been stored well. Sorghum, on the other hand, sold for CFA 200/kg (approximately US$ 0.34) in the same market. My husband and I will sell our stock (1000 kg) to buy an oxen plough.’