31 January 2008 A new United Nations-backed $19 million project in Burkina Faso will help approximately 20,000 poor rural households bolster their crop production and incomes through improved irrigation.
The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide an $11 loan to the Small-scale Irrigation and Water Management Project, which will be carried out in six provinces in the south-west of the country.
Because these half-dozen provinces border Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, two of the region’s most vibrant economies, it is hoped that the new initiative will increase both national and cross-border trade.
“There is a new political will to boost small-scale irrigated agriculture in the country,” said Norman Messer, IFAD’s country programme manager for Burkina Faso. “New, affordable micro-irrigation technologies and improved roads to get products to markets will encourage farmers to take advantage of the emerging opportunities for increasing incomes in the region.”
The Project will kick off with an information, education and communication campaign, and seeks to add to participants’ ability to intensify and diversify crops as well as support marketing activities.
The scheme will also work in conflict-affected communities in the six provinces where there has been an influx of migrants, resulting in a situation where there is less available land for greater numbers of people. Enhancing irrigation is a means of producing higher-value crops on smaller plots of land, which in turn will provide a way to ease population pressure and alleviate potential conflict.
Among other activities, the Project will build some 250 hectares of vegetable gardens with low-pressure micro-irrigation technology, and it is estimated that by its fifth year, the scheme will increase annual agricultural production by 4,700 tons of rice, 1,800 tons of vegetables, 314 tons of maize and 1,700 tons of bananas.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue