Are the farmers of Burkina second rate citizens?

This newsletter 462 is a follow up of the 454: « “Shock and desolation in Sourou”» and the 455: « “Right of reply for the MCA – BF” » . Today the rice farmers in the Sourou valley, which has been deprived of water without any prior notice to let the infrastructure of new land development by the Millennium Challenge Account proceed, are losing patience. Not only have they not received any compensation, but apparently nobody takes an interest in their fate..

sourou 27 sourou 38 Irrigation pumps – the most fortunate will hire pumps to catch the scarce water still available Zebu cattle grazing on dried maize stalks The rice producers of the Sourou valley categorically assert that the shortage of water in Sourou has caused them losses of 1 933 tons of rice and 470 tons of maize. Several months ago they informed the General Director of the Sourou Valley Development Authority (Authorité de Mise en Valeur de la Vallée du Sourou, AMVS) about the situation. He replied that the case had been transferred to the relevant body, the supervisory authority being the Ministry of Agriculture. The Mayor of Di says no more,but nothing has happened.

I deplore the fact that the press in Burkina has not taken an interest in this case. . Why has no journalist, as far as I know, gone up to make his own investigation on site?

I mentioned above that nothing has happened. This is not correct. At the time of starting this newsletter I quickly went through the August issues of a national daily paper. I found no information on the situation of the rice farmers in Sourou. On the other hand I found the following:

  1. On Friday August 3, 2012, a full page on the National Reforestation Campaign. The government set the good example: “Luc Adolphe Tiao, the Prime Minister, planted ten trees.” I would have liked to read somewhere that the Prime Minister, who on a previous visit to Sourou told the rice farmers that they are privileged, returns there to show his compassion.

  2. On Friday, August 10, a full page reporting that members of a twin town committee had donated “food for malnourished children: 35 bags of rice, 35 bags of maize, 10 cans of cooking oil, 10 boxes of sugar and 4 boxes of milk, the value of the bulk of this amounting to 2 million.” But nothing, neither in July, August, September or October on the losses of the rice farmers of 1933 tons of rice and 470 of maize, estimated to be worth 318 million francs – in other words 159 times more! Not one line.

  3. On Monday August 13 : “The National Land Management Programme (PNGT2 – Le programme national de la gestion du terroir), with the financial support of the World Bank, went out on Friday August 10, to hand out 30 tons of maize to 90 households at risk in Komsilga.» “No compassion whatsoever towards the households at risk in the Sourou valley, victims of the perverse effects of the miscalculations by the MCA-BF experts, and subsequently by the AMVS.

  4. On Thursday August 16 yet another full page to glorify an association which has donated 22 tons of maize to people in need. Clearly the press prefers to report on donations rather that write about the fight against injustice! Still no interest in the rice producers in Sourou losing 1 933 tons of rice and 470 tons of maize!

  5. On Thursday August 30 I finally find some news from the Ministry of Agriculture. Has the Ministry been up to the Sourou valley? No.. It is simply stated that the Ministry of Agriculture and Water has visited … farmland in the Central East and the East to oversee the follow up of the planting season .

I will stop the count here. I regularly read the paper quoted. Save a mistake on my part, nobody has gone out to see the producers in the Sourou valley and gather information of their situation or make their own investigations. I send out this newsletter because the President of the Union of Farmers’ Cooperatives in the Sourou valley has turned to me. He tells me that the producers are losing patience. They are indebted.They do not see a way out. Short of money they have had to reduce the planted acreage during the present rainy season, and are slowly sinking further into poverty.

At the close of this newsletter I remember a high official (former minister of Guinea) who declared during an international meeting in Senegal:

«“You who represent the civil society (and thus also the farmers’ organizations), we ask you to speak up freely, because we, senior officials, have our careers to manage”. »

sourou 67 sourou 55

Two valves of the dam are still open The infrastructure work continues and farmers are increasingly worried Apparently among the experts in Burkina, the Ministry of Agriculture, the AMVS, the MCA-BF, there are many, if not all, who have a career to manage (I particularly think of one expert concluding that the acreages proposed by the AMV,” could be planted safely with no risk of water shortage”).

If careers are not at stake, why is it that there is no compassion for the producers in the Sourou valley, no inquiry into truth and justice and no compensation?


The rice farmers of Sourou demand compensation

for losses of 318 million CFAfrancs!

How long must they wait?


Koudougou, November 5th 2012
Maurice Oudet
Director SEDELAN


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