Rice growers in Burkina Faso sound the alarm

Hopelessly outdated irrigation infrastructure threatens to reduce rice production in Burkina Faso. Trias is helping farmers to join their voices together to appeal to the government.
It rains just three months a year in the Sahel. For the rest of the year, the farmers must turn to irrigation so they can continue farming. For this reason, 50 years ago the Burkina Faso government invested in the necessary infrastructure.
Today, those irrigation channels have seen better days. Increasing quantities of waste and sandbanks are blocking the riverbeds. The farmers can’t do anything about this, so more and more areas of farmland are being deprived of water. Every year, more farmers decide to quit.
'We desperately need the earnings from our rice so we can send our kids to school,' says Pierre Dayaisse, local chairman of rice cooperatives. The increasing drought scares the youth away from the countryside. The many women who work in rice processing are also seeing their earnings reduce.
Food crisis
All of Burkina Faso’s residents have an interest in local rice production increasing. This was shown by the food crisis of 2008. That year, the price of rice reached a record level on the global market. For countries like Burkina Faso that depend strongly on imported rice, that was a heavy blow.
Farmers need to engage in order to maintain the infrastructure in good conditions.

Eva Dossche

Both the farmers and the government want to avoid a second food crisis. So investments in irrigation are necessary. 'We help the rice growers lobby for new investments,' says Eva Dossche, regional director of Trias. 'But at the same time we sensitise the growers. They need to engage to maintain the infrastructure in good conditions.'

Stronger together

In Burkina Faso Trias reinforces the Union Nationale des Producteurs de Riz, a federation that protects the interests of 22,000 rice producers. Trias also supports local cooperatives of rice growers and processors.