Where agriculture is religion: Preaching about improved sorghum in Burkina Faso
Improved sorghum varieties are finding new champions in unusual places. In Andemtenga, a remote village about 150 km east of Ouagadougou (capital of Burkina Faso), Mr Fidel Yameogo, the local catechist, is famous for testing improved sorghum varieties. He is a staunch supporter of improved sorghum varieties and has persuaded many in his village to adopt the same for better harvests.
Over the past two years, Mr Yameogo planted three improved varieties: Sariaso 11, Sariaso 22 and ICSV 1049. “I tried a dozen varieties before choosing these,” he says. In this far-flung village, (as in many others in this region), soils are poor and rainfall is often inadequate. Despite these hardships, he remains confident about the current year’s harvest: “I sowed on 27 Juneand look at my field today (2 October)! Plants are growing well and grains are almost formed,” he explains, pointing at his 1.5-hectare field growing the three improved sorghum varieties.
Very influential among members of his church, the catechist doesn’t miss an opportunity to encourage the villagers to go for improved sorghum varieties, which he considers to be the future of agriculture in the area. Recently, when a church member asked him about his ‘secret’ to cope with the vagaries of climate change and drought, he responded, “Our local varieties are outdated. If you want to have food for your family, you must practice what modern agriculture recommends, including use of improved varieties”. Thanks to last year’s good harvest, Mr Yameogo was able to buy an ox for plowing his field and a dozen of goats for breeding. “After keeping enough for household consumption, I sold the surplus grain for more than CFA 650,000 (about USD 1,200),’’ he says. A pragmatic preacher, he is now using his knowledge to convince the most incredulous to adopt new sorghum varieties. “When the time to plow comes, I will not have to wait for anybody’s helping hand since I have my own ox. When we want to eat meat, we can kill a goat. Thanks to God and to new improved varieties, I am happy”, he tells his church members during field discussions with the HOPE project team.
Showing his good faith and willingness to help a large number of producers in the village, the catechist undertook to share seeds of improved varieties of Sariaso 11, Sariaso 22 and ICSV 1049 with the villagers. “I gave out more than 100 kg of seed to about 100 people,” he says. In July 2018, small quantities of seed of the improved sorghum varieties (1 kg per beneficiary) were distributed and planted for the first time by about 20 producers in Andemtenga. Mr Yameogo is a participant of the demonstrations and participatory variety trials implemented by “Association Minim Song Panga (AMSP)” in the area during the past six years.
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