In the Bombonyenga village in the Eastern Region of Burkina Faso, there was a large compost boom. The success in compost creation across the village was a matter of will power, involvement and getting the right techniques.
Sorghum and cowpea are the main crops in Bombonyenga. Pierre Larba Yarga, a lead conservation farming producer and advocate in the village, explained how it used to be easy to make a living from the land, but with the drought it has become harder. When presented with a potential solution, he explains, of course compost caught on quickly.
“We were able to benefit from training that allowed us to improve our yields and that’s how, since last year, our families have been able to have enough to eat. We were also provided with improved seeds, adapted to the climate,” Pierre said.
To increase the resilience of farmers and their families and the land in Burkina Faso and Niger, the USAID | REGIS-ER project, led by NCBA CLUSA, supports the development of conservation farming, a technique contributing to soil fertility in combination with farmer-manager natural regeneration. The project aims to promote the establishment of this type of agricultural system because it is both sustainable and profitable, and can tangibly improve the living conditions for farmers faced with these challenges. As part of this, REGIS-ER trainers started compost training in 2015 and 2016 to encourage compost production after the 2015 rainy season, in order to benefit from standing water and the availability of straws, grasses and crop residues.
“When it does not rain for more than a week, you’d be amazed to see how quickly the soil dries up!” Pierre said. “It’s utter desolation. And you don’t know what to do about it if you haven’t learned Conservation Farming technology.” Before, he described, many famers spread manure randomly on the plot, and when it rained, the water would wash it all away towards the low points in the field. During training, farmers were strongly encouraged to use compost, shown how to prepare it and how to place it on the soil just before the first rains.
“That’s what I did, and after the first rains I seeded where I had placed the compost. And I showed the other villagers the whole process. It gave us an opportunity to change our ways of doing things,” Pierre said.