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“Mieux comprendre les innovations paysannes”

Georges Félix was intervieewed on farmer led-innovations at the Foire d’innovations paysannes d’Afrique de l’Ouest (West African Farmer Innovator Fair) held in May 2015 at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Find the article on this link (unfortunately only in French!)

crédits photos : Georges Félix
Rabah Lahmar and Hamidou Sawadogo discussing about benefits and limits to the use of Piliostigma as soil amendment in semi-arid Burkina Faso. Picture taken by Georges Félix at Kamboinsé Experimental Station (2014)

From slash and burn to ‘slash and mulch’

Idrissa Ouédraogo lives in Yilou, a village of the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso, with his wife Fatimata Sawadogo, and their children Nafisatou and Felicité. They grow mainly sorghum and cowpea, and also raise chickens, sheep and goats on a plot Idrissa was given some years ago as a gift from an elder. The soil had a hard surface crust and was completely degraded (known locally as zippélé). Nothing would grow on it, not even grasses. But Idrissa had a vision. He knew he had to bring back the native vegetation if he wanted to grow food. And he knew which shrub he needed, baagandé, or camel’s foot (Piliostigma reticulatum).
Idrissa Ouédraogo showing a field with Piliostigma shrubs. Picture by Georges Félix at Yilou, Burkina Faso (2014)

Read the full story here : From slash and burn to ‘slash and mulch’


Agroecology Symposium at the FAO: a small step for farming families, a big step for policy makers

Agriculture Ministers from Japan, Algeria, France, Senegal, Costa Rica, Brazil, and the EU commissioner of agriculture and rural development. All expressed their commitment to support agroecological development in their countries at the1st International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition. (Photo credit: Ana Paula Matei)

The general message at the symposium was clear: agroecology is key to building sustainable food systems.

“Agroecology can find a shelter under the FAO”. These were the words of FAO’s General Director, José Graziano da Silva at the 1st International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition on the 18th and 19th of September 2014. Set in the headquarters of the FAO in Rome, with 400 participants from all over the world, Graziano da Silva stressed the potential agroecology has to end world hunger while supporting family farmers.

Read the full text here:

Mogho Naaba ceremony: when Peace overcomes War

Written by Gaëlle Feur in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.


On Friday, the 14th of March, 2014, we woke up early for a morning a bit particular. At around 8:00 am every Friday, the traditionnal Mossi King of Kings (one of the largest ethnic group of Burkina Faso) steps out of his palace in order to commemorate a famous event that happened 4 centuries ago. The legend says that the « Mogho Naaba » as he is known by his people, left his palace dressed in red, ready for war. His wives, servants and subjects begged him to stay as they knew it would be a massacre. First very upset, the Mogho Naaba listened to his people and the voice of reason. He finally went back on his decision. Since then, this choice for peace is celebrated every Friday morning when all kind of people come to see the Mossi King changing from red layout to white.

Taking picture or filming is strictly forbiden but here is what I saw : The ritual starts with the arrival of the « Naabas », the chiefs of several villages around Ouagadougou. They come by bike, motorbike or even huge cars with their drivers according to their wealth status. After having greeted each other, they sit more or less close to the Mogho Naaba according to their political status. They are all dressed in their best traditional outfits. Once they have all taken place (on the ground), the ceremony starts: A first cannonball is shot. The Mogho Naaba steps outside with his red outfit, representing a confrontational attitude. Some of his wives and Nabaas come to him, prostrating and begging for him to calm down. After this scene, we can hear the captivating sound of the drums that add up to the sacred spirit of the ceremony. After a while, the Mogho Naaba comes back inside to change his red outfit into white clothes, a universal symbol of peace. At the same, time his horse is unsaddled straight on and taken away in a few seconds. A second cannonball is shot again.

There are different stories that could be at the origin of such event. In each of them there is often the implication of a woman, either the wife or the mother of the Mogho Naaba. In one case, his wife dies while travelling and as the servants do not dare to carry the news to the Mogho Naaba he finally decides to go by himself.

Another story says that the Mogho Naaba goes into war against his brother who had stolen his throne. He will be reasoned by his mother, the holder of the fetishes. She would reassure him that by invoking the fetishes, his kingdom would remain recognised above all others and by everyone.

Whichever is the true story, I noticed that women have an essential role in the legend, even though they take very limited action during the ceremony. This ceremony has anyway a strong impact on the population. The court was full of pupils, elderly, young men and women showing that all social strata of the Burkinabé population was, and still is, concerned by the message of the Mogho Nabaa : it shows how peaceful and moderate a wise man has to be, in order to take good care of his people.

Gaëlle is currently enrolled in the Master of Organic Agriculture (MOA) at Wageningen University and is doing her master thesis within the WASSA project. Image credit: Georges Félix, 2014

New MSc thesis subjects within the WASSA project in Burkina Faso

A PhD project started in 2013 and there are now several opportunities for doing a MSc thesis subject in Burkina Faso on soil degradation and restoration at the chairgroup of Farming Systems Ecology (FSE) of Wageningen University in The Netherlands. Check out two new thesis subjects published on the website of FSE.

Use of native woody shrubs for restoration of degraded soils in Soudano-Sahelian agro-ecosystems.htm

Assessing and mapping soil degradation in local farm communities in Soudano-Sahelian agro-ecosystems.htm

Within these subjects you can focus on one or more relevant fields like agroecology, agroforestry, soil sciences, social sciences,GIS, and modelling.