Bearing Fruit in West Africa

Tuesday, 8 June 2021 Bearing Fruit in West Africa Sowing Seeds of Change in the Sahel (SSCS), a SIMaid project in West Africa, seeks to facilitate the transformation of physical, social and spiritual life through agriculture and community health.

The SSCS agricultural team implement sustainable farming techniques on a 23-hectare demonstration farm and then share their findings in the surrounding villages. The team invite interested farmers to the site to demonstrate the techniques and teach them how to apply them. These techniques include learning how to improve or restore the soil and maintain soil fertility, how to apply improved agricultural management techniques to increase crop yield and how to share these skills with others. The communities where SSCS works consists mainly of subsistence farmers and herders who struggle to harvest enough to meet the basic annual food needs of their families, rarely having excess food and often having a deficit.

As well as equipping farmers with sustainable practices, the project takes a very holistic approach to community development by also prioritising a health training program with an emphasis on nutrition, prevention of diseases and traditional birth attendant training. Ado is one farmer who is bearing much fruit after attending SSCS training. 

Several years ago, SSCS’s farm manager Ayouba started to apply the management techniques he was learning on the demonstration farm in his own fields too. As a result, his crops produced more than ever before. One of his neighbours, Ado, noticed the difference and became curious. In 2019, he decided to ask Ayouba why his crops were producing more than before. Ayouba invited Ado to the demonstration farm. 

At the farm, Ayouba explained how increasing the plant density to a certain level helps to increase yield. He also explained how it is more profitable to have just one crop in one field instead of a variety of crops whereby each crop produces just a bit. Ado accepted the various pieces of advice and decided to plant by following the new methods he was taught. He also bought the better-quality seed for those crops from the demonstration farm instead of in the local market. Ayouba helped him with further advice throughout the growing season. 

At harvest time, Ado’s millet crop produced about 1 ton of grain per ha, the peanuts about 1.5 ton per ha plus some 150 bags of peanut hay, and the sesame yielded about 670 kg of grain per ha. According to farmer interviews, the average production in this region is about 350 kg millet grain per ha, 500 kg peanuts per ha plus 20 bags of hay, and 90 kg sesame per ha. Ado continues to apply the different management techniques he has learned and is content that because of it, he has been able to significantly improve the food security situation of his family. 
GIVE: Do you want to equip farmers in West Africa to improve the food security of their families? You can give to Sowing Seeds of Change in the Sahel here.

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