Burkina Faso: A changing landscape

Farming in Burkina Faso has been established for over 3000 years, but the changing climate, along with modern socio-political challenges, mean that agriculture in Burkina Faso is undergoing a rapid and dramatic transformation.

Burkina Faso is a relatively flat, landlocked country in sub-Saharan West Africa. It’s climate is primarily tropical, with a rainy season of roughly four months leading to approximately 80 cm of rain per year, and a dry season when the harmattan blows (a hot, dry wind from the Sahara).

Within West Africa, Burkina Faso is second only to Nigeria in terms of the proportion of the land area covered by crops. Between 1975 and the present day the dominant landscape has changed from savannah (52% in 1975, down to 31% in 2013) to agriculture (15% in 1975, up to 39% in 2013).

This land-use change coupled with climate change poses a huge challenge to a country supported by largely non-irrigated agriculture, with just 0.5% of the the landscape used for irrigated agriculture in 2013.

Land cover in Burkina Faso, 1975 to 2013 – Image from Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS), USGS. https://eros.usgs.gov/westafrica/land-cover/land-use-land-cover-and-trends-burkina-faso

Powering increasing agricultural production

It is not only land use change affecting Burkina Faso’s agricultural landscape, there is also increasing demand for production.

Burkina Faso’s population is expanding by roughly 3% per year, and there are also targets to increase production for export. As most farms in Burkina Faso are between 1 and 2 hectares, this is a challenge that falls primarily on smallholder farmers. This challenge is not something that can be met by traditional methods alone.

By utilising solar water pumps for irrigation to increase production per hectare, these farmers are freeing themselves from the ongoing cost of petrol, reducing the pollution resulting from their farming, and decreasing their reliance on increasingly unpredictable rain for irrigation.

Credit: Yandalux Burkina Faso

Our distributor in Burkina Faso is Yandalux – look out for more information from them on our social media this month. With their help, smallholder farmers have been using solar pumps in Burkina Faso and have saved around 300 litres of petrol so far, rather than petrol powered pumps.