Assétou Kafando is the president of the women farmers’ association in the small city of Dedougou in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Along with the 85 other women in her association, she grows niebe, a traditional food that will feed her family and community, and sells her remaining crops.
The day we met Assétou in her village, she was angry. She told us that none of the other women farmers in her association could make ends meet this year. They were saddled with debts, and were anxious about their families going hungry. The farmers had invested in expensive fertilizers to grow their crops, but when it came time to sell their harvests, the price was not enough to cover their high costs.
But Assétou has a vision of the future, one that promotes sustainable, healthy, and nutritious food.
Thanks to the accompaniment of INADES, a member organization of the West African farmer movement COPAGEN, Assétou was able to turn a modest profit this year. With her newfound knowledge and skills, she produced composts and organic manure, and used her own natural fertilizers to nourish the land. For other women farmers, Assétou is living proof that ecological agriculture is a low-cost way of growing food and providing for your family.
INADES also trained Assétou and other farmers on how to transform niebe into semolina, flour, and pastry to increase their market opportunities and increase their communities’ access to local nutritious food.
COPAGEN members were inspired by exchanges that Inter Pares initiated and facilitated between West African farmers and Indian farmers. Throughout these exchanges, the farmers learned about biodiverse farming practices and how women’s groups can regain control over their lands, seeds, and livelihoods.