Giving small-scale farmers in Burkina Faso options
The appropriate varieties of early-maturing cowpea for Burkina Faso (AVEC-BF) project organized a farmers’ participatory varietal selection (FPVS) for 1,011 farmers from 14 villages in the north and south of Burkina Faso to promote the use of improved cowpea varieties by small-scale farmers. The AVEC-BF project aims to develop a large-scale dissemination system for improved cowpea jointly developed by IITA and the Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles de Burkina Faso (INERA).
Haruki Ishikawa, AVEC-BF project leader, said, “We use the FPVS as an avenue to educate and demonstrate how to effectively use improved cowpea varieties for profitable returns. In this way, the project is able to acknowledge farmers’ preferences, while enhancing the capacity of village and community members.” After the selection, the farmers were interviewed to clarify their selection criteria.
Most farmers who participated in the FPVS are very interested in the improved cowpea variety and maintaining their interest is inbuilt into the scheme. “To sustain participants’ interests, farmer schools (FS) have been planned after the harvest season for the same villages where FPVS was conducted”, Ishikawa added. “In this arrangement, cowpea farmers will be enrolled as students of the FS, where they will acquire more skills and knowledge needed for their production activities. This exposure will enhance farmers’ understanding of improved cowpea varieties and also engage them even after harvest.”
Issa Drabo, Cowpea Breeder at INERA Burkina Faso, further explained the distinctiveness of the AVEC-BF project approach. “The scheme is unique. Three different challenges coexist in the same village: establishment of a seed production system, the need for FPVS to find acceptable varieties for farmers, and the FS for farmers’ technology enhancement.” He also added that the project’s activities have provided an opportunity for training young technicians at INERA.
Ishiwaka concluded, “We are tackling the issue of how to deliver the achievements of IITA to small-scale farmers”.
The AVEC-BF project is funded by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).