Monsanto introduced OGM cotton in Burkina Faso about 10 years ago. Three years ago It was banned, since the fiber of the cotton was rather short and could not be sold easily.
In the meantime, the “white fly” which used to attack that cotton, had to find new targets. One of them has been the sesame. Farmers now have to use insecticide on this crop.
Last year farmers had a lot of loss in their corn field due to “fall armyworms”. I found out this week that this butterfly was first found in Latin America on OGM fields. Monsanto used pesticides there and the insect has developed resistance against some of them. This means that the pesticides to be used in order to protect fields now have to be extremely strong. They are destroying not only the pest but also other insects even bees.
Monsanto is now negotiating with the Burkinabe government to come back with OGM seeds for corn (and cotton) which have a self-protection against this insect.
What are the possibilities: use strong pesticides bad for people and environment, or use OGM seeds which are bad for environment and people. We might think that alternative crops could be cultivated. Unfortunately the fall armyworms, while they prefer corn, will attack anything else if there is no corn.
Not much hope for small farmers. The only solution is diversification of cultures, making sure that revenues from the fields come along all year and not only from the work during the rainy season. This means fields with fruit trees (mango, cashew nuts) and access to water during the dry season.
Visit of a new village: Sipigui
Last week we visited the village of Sipigui. We have been in contact with this village since about one year. The main activity there is cashew nut production.
Coming into the village we could see that the cashew nuts trees where rather old. They told us that they harvest about 200 kg of nuts / Ha. This is below the national average of 300 kg and much below what can be expected with younger and better trees.
The farmers have no plan to replace the cashew nuts trees and their yield is going down each year. Since the price of the cashew nuts has been increasing each year, farmers do not really see an impact on their revenues.
Farmers of this village are also cultivating a cereal which is becoming very popular in developed countries, the white fonio. Since in the other villages where we work there is very little fonio fields, we asked them why they are cultivating this cereal. They just answered that they have always cultivated fonio, as part of their traditions.
This village has many needs. With a priority for a medical center (closest medical center is 12KM away), but also infrastructure for education and water are very much needed.
Below are the links for a video on the activity day at the LAP and on the gardening project in Nefrelaye.
Saying of the week
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Martin Luther King
Un individu n’a pas commencé à vivre tant qu’il ne s’est pas élevé au-dessus des limites étroites de ses préoccupations individualistes vers les préoccupations plus larges de toute l’humanité.
Martin Luther King
Have a nice week.