1st Phase of the Project CMF (Campaign 2019-2020)

 1st Phase of the Project of CMF. Campaign 2019 - 2020

Improving the agricultural production of organic tiger nut through the empowerment of women tiger nut farmers and the use of appropriate methodologies in Western Burkina Faso. Towards food sovereignty.

The 2019-2020 campaign (Phase 1) of the CMF began in March 2019 and ended in April 2020. Throughout the process, the organic certifier ECOCERT provided support, supervision, and advice.

The first steps were the delimitation and preparation of the land for cultivation. Trees that limited the productivity of the field had to be cut down. However, at a later stage of the project, trees were replanted. The hectares were then divided among the farmers, who began to prepare the land for planting in small family plots.

In the meantime, with the collaboration of ASFES, fertilizers and organic seeds were purchased, as well as the necessary materials and basic cultivation tools. The women received intensive training on organic farming techniques from a distinguished agricultural consultant from Burkina, techniques that they practiced during planting combined with their ancestral knowledge and under the guidance of the ECOCERT certifier

Between the end of August and the beginning of September, the women planted the tiger nuts. At the same time, they began to manufacture the necessary machinery for the harvest. Two similar machines have been manufactured to sieve and calibrate the tiger nut once it has been harvested (they consist of grating drums in which the tiger nut is introduced and they are turned around to remove the remains of earth, stones, dust, and tiger nuts that are too small). These manual tools are based on those formerly used in the Valencian orchard.

Before the harvest, other tools and necessary materials, such as sacks, sieves and scales were purchased. Animal traction machines and 2 oxen were also purchased for the extraction and harvesting of the tiger nuts. And of course, personal protective equipment was purchased for the women: leather gloves, masks, and ear muffs. In addition, water dispensers were purchased and installed in the work areas to ensure that the women had adequate working conditions.

Harvesting began at the end of February, a fundamental stage in the process and one that required a great deal of physical effort on the part of the women farmers. This work was interrupted at the beginning of March by the Covid-19 pandemic and could not be resumed until mid-April. In Burkina Faso, security measures and recommendations were also taken for the population, with confinement in some cities, curfews, restriction of mobility throughout the Burkinabe territory, and the prohibition of any economic activity that did not ensure the established security conditions, including the cultivation of tiger nuts, which is risky for the respiratory system as the inhalation of dust can cause serious complications for women's health.

At the end of April, the cooperative finished the production work for the 2019/2020 campaign with very satisfactory feelings. The women received a living wage for their work and the volume of tiger nuts awaited export. Through the sending of photos and videos by ASFES, which is continuously in the field, we have been able to see how the women have used the personal protective equipment and the machines for cleaning and sieving the tiger nut, which make their work much easier and protect them to a great extent from dust inhalation and insect bites.

Finally, at the end of 2020, and thanks to the financial support of the Valencia City Council, the construction of a warehouse to store the tiger nuts during the selection season was completed. A shed was also acquired and refurbished to store tools in the area of fields. These two investments have been fundamental for the correct development of the activities and the achievement of the objectives established in the project.

Going back to the project.