The Appropriate Scale Mechanization Innovation Hub-Burkina Faso recently received a nationally competitive grant to accelerate the process of scaling up the maize planter that was built and demonstrated at the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Field Hub in 2017. The submitted proposal, Mechanized Sowing of Maize with an Animal-Drawn Planter, was the top submission among 55 proposals received by the National Fund for Research and Innovation for Development (FONRID) in Burkina Faso. The proposal was in response to a call by FONRID for innovations poised to advance “Sustainable Intensification of Agro-Forestry and Pastoral Production.” After rigorous review by the Council of Science and Technology, it was concluded that the planter technology responds to an urgent need of smallholder farmers in their quest for national food security. The team received a grant of $18,666 that will supplement and accelerate the efforts to scale-up production and use of the planter (Fig. 1). FONRID’s support reaffirms that the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) project is addressing an urgent agricultural need for smallholder farmers. Continue reading “Burkina Faso Innovation Hub Wins National Grant to Scale-Up Planter Technology”
The overarching goal of the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Hub in Burkina Faso is to assist the country’s smallholder farmers in improving their quality of life by integrating appropriate technologies into crop and livestock systems that sustain profitability and boost ecosystem resilience by alleviating labor bottlenecks while reducing the drudgery of labor-intensive farm tasks.
|Figure 1. Université Polytechnique de Bobo-Dioulasso students and ASMC interns Sayaogo Boureima, Victor Ye, Fatoumata Ganou and Dianda Saidou.|
We are near the end of the second year of the SIIL Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) project and are reviewing the initial objectives established in collaboration with the stakeholder group and advisory team to ensure that our activities are in line with project objectives. Stakeholders include the U.S. and Burkina Faso ASMC project teams along with local farmers, extension educators, students, agribusiness representatives, agricultural lenders, farmer organizations, technical service providers and others in the Hauts Bassins region.
The interaction with stakeholders was essential in defining the scope and structure of the work in Burkina Faso, and just as importantly, in illuminating a set of common goals and values shared by Burkinabé farmers. We asked:
- What is the local vision of small-scale farming systems that integrate all aspects of sustainability?
- Which aspects of the local farming systems are most important to retain if the overall objective is a sustainable balance of environmental, economic and social issues?
- What diminishes (physical, biological, cultural, etc.) the sustainability of local farming systems, and what can be done to overcome it?
- How can mechanization improve local farming systems that balance sustainability and social and gender equity?
The participatory and inclusive interaction with stakeholders provided an essential understanding of field conditions and helped prioritize the needs, challenges, and opportunities for mechanization. The resulting action plan continues to guide the project. Continue reading “Mechanization is Advancing Sustainable Intensification in Burkina Faso”
All around the world, youth often aim to have a better life than their parents. For those engaged in agriculture, this sentiment is particularly true. The traditional perception of agriculture is one of subsistence, meaning that farmers only produce enough food to eat, with minimal profit. The farmers’ children recognize this and want something better. Currently, trends and attitudes see youth looking to leave the laborious farming life behind for better opportunities in other sectors. “Rural youth recently reported that access to information, lack of credit and negative perceptions around farming are the leading reasons” [IFAD, 2017]. In Cambodia, migration of young rural workers away from farms has been significant in the past 15 years and threatens to cause a future labor shortage in the agriculture industry. This creates a challenge, in Cambodia and many other countries, as a new generation of farmers is needed to achieve the global challenge of feeding a growing world population.
In Cambodia, the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) is working to change the labor-intensive perception of farming and showcase agricultural careers as an attractive option for youth. The advances in agronomy, crop science, agribusiness, agro-engineering, agro-processing and agricultural education, agriculture has evolved into an expansive and exciting field in recent decades. An agriculture-centered life has taken on new meaning, and there is a need to expose youth to the vast opportunities available within the field.
Ninety-two percent of the population of Burkina Faso is involved in agricultural pursuits (Beal et al., 2015). Agricultural production is labor intensive for smallholder farmers. Small landholders typically work less than 3.5 hectares, while mid-size farms are about 7 hectares and large farms are typically 10 hectares or larger. The rural population relies on subsistence farming, and nearly the entire rural population lives in poverty. Forty-five percent of the farms have an income of less than $1 per day. The Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) has partnered with the Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso to improve management practices and technologies for maize cultivation in the Hauts-Bassins region of Burkina Faso. The main cash crops in this region are maize, cotton, soybeans, peanuts and sesame. The mechanization practices developed for maize will be applicable and transferable to these other cash crops. These ASMC efforts will provide the smallholder farmers with improved agricultural techniques and technologies that will sustainably increase agricultural production, reduce labor and drudgery, increase socio-economic status, and improve the overall quality of life. Continue reading “Animal Traction is an Appropriate Technology for Cropping System Mechanization in Burkina Faso”