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August 22, 2011. ACTS is hopeful that a new program launched in July by the government will give assistance to the farmers living in the district where the ACTS Center is located. Most of those who work the fields are women. Pray that the women receive the ploughs and are able to purchase draught animals.

The government of Burkina Faso has responded to long-standing demands of farmers for greater support for small family producers with the launch of "Operation 100,000 Ploughs". Smallholder farmers say this will strengthen the country's food security.

Women, who constitute an important part of the agricultural labor force will receive half of the ploughs. "They will till more than the usual quarter of a hectare - they'll be able to cultivate as much as four hectares," says Dao. "The sight of women bent over, working in a field, babies on their backs; that will be finished, thanks to this initiative."

"We have been waiting for this operation to boost our farming for a long time, because with the daba, we couldn't do much better. More than 70 percent of producers use hoes," says Nimbnoma Sawadogo, president of the Regional Agriculture Chambers of Burkina Faso.


Women use the daba to hoe their small fields

Operation 100,000 Ploughs, launched in June, will make 20,000 ploughs available to the poorest rural households in each of the next five years, half of them to be given to women. The ploughs will be made affordable thanks to an 80 percent subsidy from the government.
Access to such equipment varies widely across Burkina Faso. The agriculture sector generates 40 percent of the gross domestic product of Burkina Faso and the authorities hope that with funding for agricultural mechanization over the next four years, it can raise the proportion of farmers who are mechanized country-wide from the present 20 percent to 75 percent in 2015.


Draught power is the most common form of mechanization in Burkina Faso.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Water, draught power is the most common form of mechanization in Burkina, where only 30 percent of households own one draught animal; 30 percent of these households also possess a tool for tillage and 20 percent have a cart.

Alfred Sawadogo, head of the non-governmental organization SOS Sahel, also welcomed the announcement of the program which, he says, responds to the demands from smallholder farmer organizations for the improvement of family-based production.

"The government must support family farms and help them to modernize and improve their productivity. In the west of the country, the availability of land allows family operations to expand to up to 50 hectares from a base of five or seven hectares," Sawadogo told IPS.

Farmers also say that tilling with a plough allows the soil to better absorb water, preserving moisture far longer than a field tilled with a traditional hoe, known in Burkina Faso as a daba. Sawadogo also explains that animals provide a natural fertilizer in the form of manure.

"This is why the program is attractive, because it will allow small agriculture to develop itself," says Dao.



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ACTS Center in Saonré is dedicated to giving a hand up and not a handout to the forgotten ones of Burkina Faso...widows and orphans.

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