Réseau MARP (Méthodes Actives de Recherche et de Planification)

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Réseau MARP (Méthodes Actives de Recherche et de Planification)

Burkina Faso
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The southern frontier of the Sahel desert arcs across southern Mauritania, north and western Senegal, parts of northern and western Mali, the northern region of Burkina Faso and then eastward. Throughout this region, desertification has advanced steadily since the mid-twentieth century, taking away arable land, and threatening the agricultural livelihoods of small producers in Burkina Faso. However along the edge of this southern “semi-desert,” small family farms which are passed down from generation to generation still grow cereals such as millet and sorghum. Matthieu Ouedraogo believes that these family farms are also at the heart of regional innovation. Through assisting the growth and regeneration of local plants to helping build communities of small producers that replicate local innovations, Matthieu hopes to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship among farmers across the region.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Local farmers have developed various techniques for assisting plant regeneration in this “semi-desert” belt, particularly in growing new forests and water systems that can trap humidity and increase crop yield. One example of an innovative farming practice is the construction of a contoured barrier of small stones which guides and evenly disperses infrequent rainfall around crops. However unlike a regular water canal, the stone barriers also act as depositories where seeds carried by the rainfall can take root and eventually offer shade to crops. Another example of naturally assisted re-growth is when local farmers feed tree seeds to their livestock and then plant the manure (including the tree seeds) and cereal seeds in “zains,” which are small carefully dug holes. Eventually, the fertilizer assists the seeds to grow, resulting in fertile cereal plants and trees that can shade them. Matthieu’s understanding of naturally assisted regeneration extends to innovations in distribution. For example, an innovative small producer in Matthieu’s network has engineered a method for storing potatoes in large underground cellars which is an entirely new approach in the Sahel. This allows the farmer to protect their crop yield and that of surrounding farmers until well after the harvest, when the price of potatoes increases substantially. This particular idea was inspired by a trip to Europe sponsored by Swiss volunteers, where the farmer saw a wine cave and realized that he could keep potatoes cool without refrigeration in a fifty foot deep cellar with adequate air circulation, even if summer surface temperature exceeded one hundred and twenty degrees. Matthieu plans to connect small farmers to each other’s new ideas, and to introduce farmers to more effective uses of local available natural resources. Matthieu will achieve this by: a) creating improved supply chains through working together with business entrepreneurs; b) working with local governments, particularly with respect to gaining formal recognition for traditional land rights so that small farmers can use their land as collateral in taking out small loans; and c) urging other citizen sector organizations to identify and encourage innovative small farmers in order to foster a community of small farmer-innovators.