What does your father do? - Nothing, he is a peasant…!

The 15th Farmers’ National Day was held in Ouaghigouya, regional capital of the North of Burkina Faso. Its theme: Modernisation and professionalism in agriculture: role and responsibilities of its people. 1200 delegates, farmers, pastoralists and fishermen took part, as well as 300 exhibition participants. The last day’s special feature was the ”direct dialogue” between the President of Burkina Faso and the producers from the 13 regions of the country. An ample discussion ensued.

Sur les murs de Ouahigouya, le thème de la JNPOuahigouya, réputée à juste titre, par l'expertise de ses maraîchers Before an audience of 1200 delegates and a nearly full attendance of government ministers, the Head of the State declared: ”The promotion of agriculture as a lever for economic growth remains at the centre of our attention in the government, because the capital importance of the sector in building a strong and prosperous nation.

In light of the many complaints put forward by the farmers, one may question the efficiency of government action for to boost agriculture: lack of access to water, dams crumbling , prospects for young people non-existent, grazing land occupied illegally, persistent conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, exodus of good farm hands, devastating effects of gold-mining, pollution, lack of animal feed industries …

We have already highlighted several of these problems, for instance the lack of access to water, in one of our recent newsletters: ”Constructing a dam is not sufficient to provide access to water”. We shall come back to this topic shortly.

La laiterie Kossam Yadega de Ouahigouya a obtenu un prixLe stand de la CPF à la foire de la JNPTo conclude I would like to emphasise the importance of the demand by Mr Bassiaka Dao, President of the National Confederation of Farmers’ Unions, speaking on behalf of all producers:

”Give the farmer professional status and let his work be recognised and valued”

In fact just a few days ago I asked a young man in high school:

”What does your father do?” – ”Nothing! He is a peasant!

However, it is his father who provides him with food, clothes and medical care … and pays for his education!

While writing this I think of Edgar Pisani who stated in his book ”Pour l’Afrique” (1988):

”What is it that has done most harm to Africa in the course of its history? It is the disdain in which it has held its farmers … this barrier put up in front of the farmers has generated all the food, economic, financial, ecological, social and political disruptions. (P. 36)

The author sees this barrier as a fundamental error.

These lines were written in 1988. Today, after 50 years of independence, farmers (agriculturers, pastoralists and fishermen) still have no legal status. It is urgent that this ”fundamental error” be corrected!

Koudougou, April 25th 2012,
Maurice Oudet
Director, SEDELAN

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