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Burkina Faso: Farmers Transform Unproductive Land Into Flourishing Rice Fields

Rehabilitating unproductive land

Land once dry and infertile is today a source of food and income for thousands of smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso. Thanks to financial support from the Government of Japan, WFP has implemented a “Food-for-Work” project that has enabled more than 1,500 families to benefit from now-flourishing rice fields. Japan has already funded similar projects in six West African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal), and a new project has just started in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Burkina Faso, a sahelian, landlocked country, suffers from chronically high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition. While the country has the same dry soils found across the Sahel, improved agricultural techniques and proper water management can turn even infertile land into productive fields.

Increasing productivity through Food-for-Work

Through the project, farmers receive rice in exchange for work to rehabilitate previously unproductive land. Each MT of rice provided for work on the project translates to seven MT of rice produced by the same farmers thanks to improved yields.

Improving irrigation

Irrigation systems are essential to improved land productivity in a region where farming is highly dependent on rainfall. In addition to the construction of dykes and other water management infrastructures, farmers—especially women—receive training in vegetable cropping, post-harvest techniques, group management, and marketing through the project.

Productive fields

A total of 445 hectares were been rehabilitated and irrigated from 2005-2013. Thanks to improved productivity of their fields, Burkinabe farmers have produced 5,200 MT of rice over the last seven years on rehabilitated land.

Lasting impact

While the project came to a close in 2013, rehabilitated rice fields are still helping to improve the food security of thousands of families. Many have also diversified their income, purchasing livestock or planting gardens using money earned by selling rice surpluses.

Land once dry and infertile is today a source of food and income for thousands of smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso. Thanks to financial support from the Government of Japan, WFP has implemented a “Food-for-Work” project that has enabled more than 1,500 families to benefit from now-flourishing rice fields. Japan has already funded similar projects in six West African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal), and a new project has just started in Liberia and Sierra Leone.