Posts Tagged ‘Cantave Jean Baptiste’

Dear Friends,

Kombari (smiling on left) and members of the Gayeri women's group

Kombari (smiling on left) and members of the Gayeri women's group

I wish you could have been with me as I sat and listened to Kombari Odette and the other members of the Gayeri women’s group sharing their excitement about what they learned during a recent cross visit to Zandoma Province in northern Burkina Faso. Fatou Batta, Groundswell’s Co-Coordinator for West Africa, and 26 participants from 9 villages visited nearly a dozen sites to learn about how to increase food production on their barren land.

Kombari said, “We were amazed at how the women from those communities are growing vegetables on land that is even worse than ours. We now know we can do that as well.”

Another farmer who inspired them was Mr. Ouedraogo, because he is successfully regenerating and farming land that was completely degraded just a few years ago. Mr. Ouedraogo showed cross visit participants how to break through the rock-like surface of the land using techniques called half-moons and horse powered zaï. This allows him to capture and retain rainwater, to add compost, and to increase soil fertility and his crop production.

Farmers in eastern Burkina Faso learning to make zai holes using horses.

Mechanical zaï using horse power is a cost effective, practical and successful farming technique

One participant commented, “We could see how his soil fertility improved, and how large the millet plants were.” That’s why using the farm as a ‘classroom’ is among the best ways to show farmers the true potential of sustainable farming.

Mr. Ouedraogo and other local farmers said that digging zaï holes by hand with hoes takes almost 500 hours of labor per hectare, compared to 50 hours using horse power. Of the 41 families in Mr. Ouedraogo’s village, only 4 were food secure before adopting horse powered zaï and other sustainable practices, but now all of them are food self-sufficient and are selling their surplus production to pay for school, cloths, and other needs.

Woman watering field in village in Burkina Faso.

Participants also visited this thriving field maintained by a women's farmer group

When I visited the women in Gayeri, they were proud to show us the vegetable farm they had started, and they told us how they are convincing their husbands to recover the soil on their fields instead of finding new land to deforest. This is exactly the sort of practical, effective work your money supports when you donate to Groundswell. Cross visits to places like Mr. Ouedraogo’s farm cost us about $50 per person and have the potential to change not only the way a family farms, but entire communities!

If you would like to work with us to reach more communities, there is no better time than now. Thanks to a generous $25,000 matching grant from the Swift Foundation you can  double your investment. We have already matched nearly $18,000 and hope to raise the last $7,000 by the end of this month. Please help us reach our goal. All you need to do is check the “Match my gift!” box on our donation page or write “match my donation” in the comments section of your check.

Thank you for your support.


Steve Brescia
International Director


P.S. We are also making voices like Kombari’s heard in the halls of power. This week Cantave Jean-Baptiste of Haiti will represent Groundswell at the the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City, which convenes global leaders to promote innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. And Fatou Batta of Burkina Faso and Bern Guri of Ghana will join other civil society representatives to meet with the Gate’s Foundation supported AGRA program in Africa, advocating for more people-centered solutions. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter this week for updates.

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