Saïdou Ouedrago is a farmer in Koualga, a village in southern Burkina Faso. He is a happy man. His wheat fields promise a good harvest this year.
Burkina Faso is preparing to mark World Food Day 2010 on October 16. Gourcy, a town in the north, will host the event this year. Mr. Ouedrago says, “It’s a difficult thing to commemorate as the price surges in 2007 and 2008 made food insecurity worse in developing countries, particularly Burkina Faso.”
Last year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization noted that there were one billion hungry people worldwide. The figure hit the billion mark in 2009 partly because of soaring food prices and the financial crisis. FAO recently announced a new estimate of 925 million.
Though the number of hungry people is near an all time high, Mr. Ouedrago remains confident. He explains: “What is good is that agriculture is increasingly in the international agenda.”
Bakary Korgo is a grower in the Kou valley, and Souleymane Diabate farms in the Cascades region. Unlike Mr. Ouedrago, they were unaware of World Food Day. But they were delighted to learn about it. Mr. Korgo says, “If such a day exists, it’s a good thing because food is central to our everyday concerns.” Mr. Diabate adds: “To feed the growing population of Burkina Faso is a challenge we farmers are involved in.” He believes that it’s worthwhile to dedicate a day to food and the people who grow it.
Mr. Ouedrago, Mr. Korgo and Mr. Diabate are conscientious farmers. They support united efforts to beat hunger. Mr. Ouedrago insists, “To eat, our farmers must produce well. This day is an opportunity for us farmers to question our leaders about the challenges we face.” Mr. Korgo explains that he lacks current market information. And he cannot always get the agricultural inputs he needs to increase his yields. As a result, he does not make a lot of profit when he sells his products.
Mr. Diabate suggests, “Public institutions, civil society organizations and private individuals must work together to promote agriculture to eradicate hunger and [the] extreme poverty of our people.”
The Burkinabe government and international donors have renewed their commitment to increase investment in agriculture. Despite the difficulties they face, each of the three farmers is optimistic that their country will achieve food security.