Alizèta Biyen, farmer in Léo (a town about 160 km south of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso) strolls quietly over the two hectares of her family’s land. The morning breeze blows over her face and the chirping of birds can be heard through the surrounding trees. With a daba (a tool similar to an adze) on her shoulder, her eyes gaze into the distance and inspect her piece of land. Like many farmers in the region, she has been experimenting with new agricultural methods based on natural compost for some time.

Back from the fields, the sun’s rays slowly creep through the foliage and the temperature begins to rise. But Alizèta certainly doesn’t care; she’s more interested in the piles of freshly cut bushes she’s about to burn. She is currently a freshman preparatory student at the School of Natural Composting and is applying her earliest lessons. She has made two compost heaps and confidently shows us one of them: “I can proudly tell you that in addition to my promise to use natural compost, I also expect better yields if Mother Nature is generous and helps me get the first compost pile on the piece Bring land that he sometimes gave me next week. If there is any compost left, I will donate it to my husband for the family field. “

The young woman benefited from a training program on how to make natural compost. This was made possible by the “Birds – Bees – Business” initiative – part of the Projet d’appui à la diversité biologique et à l’économie verte or (PADEV-BBB) – a project to promote biodiversity and the Greens from the National Postcode Lottery funded and implemented in four provinces of Burkina Faso. The four-year project is being carried out by ICCO Cooperations in collaboration with Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN, BirdLife Partner) and the Fair Climate Fund.

Alizèta is busy preparing her farm for the planting season. Those who started using natural compost before her get good yields year after year. In her opinion, the training was very inspiring: “The compost heap preparation technique I learned can be used by women without any problems. You don’t need cement to stabilize the pit. The technique requires the use of large amounts of crop residue and a small amount of manure. This is the easiest way for me as I know how to collect crop residues. “

For Alizèta, chemical fertilizers are a distant memory. “Last season my husband and I spent more than 150 euros on pesticides and fertilizers. We have made many sacrifices just to be able to buy these resources. Despite our efforts, we didn’t harvest much, ”says Alizèta.

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Chemical inputs have shown their limits in improving agricultural yields for small household farmers in Burkina Faso. It is undeniable that these artificial inputs have long-term negative effects on soil fertility due to their harmful effects on microorganisms; consequently contributes to increased food insecurity. In addition, the cost of these inputs remains out of the reach of endangered producers: more than 25 euros for a 50 kilogram sack of NPK fertilizer. Although the production and use of organic manure has long been popular, its adoption by women is still hampered by the arduous task of digging manure pits.

To meet this challenge and improve crop yields, Naturama (BirdLife in Burkina Faso) is promoting the use of compost by smallholders by opting for pile composting. “This technique has an advantage: it does not require any hard work or financial resources. Plus, it only takes 45 days to make compost. This corresponds to the reality of smallholder households, especially women and young people, ”says Adama Nana, head of the PADEV-BBB project. The project promoted the training of farmers in the use of this technique. Farming kits were made available to participants to help implement the technology on their farms.

A training course for farmers in the technology of natural compost production © Seydou Nacro

As a result of this initiative, 2,659 smallholders were trained in the first year of implementation, including around 1,129 women who were trained in the production of compost heaps. With the application packages received, 1,600 farmers have succeeded in producing compost for the current season.

This project activity falls within the “Trees-Insects-Birds” strategy, in which the use of compost plays a key role in improving crop yields, preserving microorganisms and preserving insects and thus the survival of migratory birds and optimal pollination of plants and production of non-wood forest products. Participants in the activity realized how easy it is to make organic fertilizers. “We understand that we always have to bring fertilizer to our fields if we want to maintain the fertility of our soil for a long time, so that we can pass it on to our offspring and also improve production,” said Alizèta Biyen. In the following farming seasons, beneficiaries will be retrained to be role models in the villages where the project is being implemented and another group will benefit from the same training to ensure the promotion of this good practice in the villages.