2. Burkina Faso: FAO fights drought and high food prices by distributing seeds (UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO)

| July 12, 2010

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Koumba Kabré has six children to feed. “We only have one meal a day, for our cereal stocks will only last till June.” Mrs. Kabré lives in the village of Kokologo, 45 kilometres south of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso. She takes a single ration from the family’s remaining store of millet and sorghum. She prepares porridge for the evening meal.

Burkina Faso is still feeling the impact of the recent food crisis. While the cost of food has dropped since 2008, it is still high. On top of this, poor rains led to an estimated 17 percent decline in cereal production in 2009.

“This drought exacerbates an already difficult food security situation caused by persisting high food prices,” said Jean-Pierre Renson, FAO’s Emergency Coordinator in Burkina Faso.

In response, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is distributing hybrid seeds to 100,000 farmers in time for the coming planting season. The distribution will benefit about 700,000 people. Its aim is to boost food production.

Claude Zabsonré, chief for the area around Kokologo, is confident that this support will lift Mrs. Kabré’s family out of food insecurity.

“Before the next planting season, this household will receive improved, certified seed, free of charge. To increase the output of their three hectares of land, the family will be able to plant rice, maize, sorghum or cowpea,” he says.

FAO is also supporting seed production. In Banzon, southern Burkina Faso, some 900 seed producers in irrigated areas are harvesting improved seeds through their agricultural cooperative.

These farmers are increasing their incomes while helping to improve food security in the rest of the country. “During the dry season [of] December 2009-April 2010, we planted 200 hectares of rice, 100 hectares of maize and 5 hectares of cowpeas,” says Seydou Sawadogo, president of the cooperative. “With the proceeds of last year, I have been able to extend my house, adding two rooms and a living room.”

Producer Diallo Yacouba harvests seeds on a plot of less than one hectare. He is careful to use production techniques that comply with FAO standards.

By selling quality rice and maize seeds, Mr. Yacouba will increase his own profits. He will also have the satisfaction of knowing he is supporting other Burkinabé farmers. For it is his seeds that FAO uses to assist vulnerable families like Mrs. Kabré’s in Kokologo.