George Ouedrago moved to Kogola village, in northern Burkina Faso, seven years ago and soon found that working the soil was very tough.
Looking back, George describes it as ‘low quality and dry land’ which resulted in him struggling to feed his family of five.
‘Then Tearfund partner AEAD came along to teach us various methods to grow things better,’ he recalls. ‘Little by little, I started to apply those methods they taught.’
Using resources that are readily available is a key part of AEAD’s outlook and they taught George the value of using his animals’ dung to make compost.
So he created a pit, topped the dung up with millet sticks, sprayed the cocktail with water, stirred it every 25 days and bingo, after 90 days he had compost ready to be used on his fields.
George said, ‘The result is really good. Crops grow better and I’ve reduced the amount of chemical fertilisers by half.’
Soil erosion was another issue Tearfund’s partner helped George tackle.
‘Because our area is so flat, soil erosion is a big problem. I learnt from AEAD to build stone bunds to stop this. AEAD helped me to buy and transport the stones to my land.
‘When it’s raining, I come to the fields to look at which way the water run off goes, then I build the stone bunds against the direction the water runs. This way, the nutrients from the soil won't be washed away. 'It is a lot of hard work, but look at the quality of the soil in my land in comparison to the others, it is totally worth it. Along the outside edge of the bunds, I also grow elephant grass which also helps stop soil run off.'
Baked in sun
In addition George has learnt that if he spreads grass over the top of the soil, this stops it from being baked in the sun.
He’s also expanded the variety of crops he grows, so he now produces beans and aubergines as well as more traditional corn and millet.
‘Since I started using these methods, the harvest is getting better and better each year,’ said George.
‘I managed to harvest eleven extra 100kg bags of millet. I used them to help people in need in my church as I lead a church of over 200 people. When they see my harvest, they congratulate me and see me as a model. I really hope more people will be able to take advantage of these great methods.’