Cowpea Demonstrations Promote Adaptable and Sustainable Agricultural Practices, Bringing Greater Yields and Increasing Revenue
To sustainably improve cowpea productivity and the incomes of producers, the Feed the Future-funded USAID Yidgiri activity established demonstration plots throughout the agricultural season and hosted field visits to showcase good agricultural practices for land preparation, planting, weeding and harvesting periods. The plots allowed farmers to test new agricultural methods, technologies and climate-smart practices, building resilience and developing mitigation strategies to deal with environmental shocks.
From 2020 to 2022, the USAID Yidgiri activity established more than 300 demonstration plots to test new varieties of improved cowpea seeds for food and feed, and to develop different techniques of water and integrated soil fertility management. In addition, more than 200 field visits focused on improved cowpea production practices, dual purpose cowpea variety, climate adaptability and resilience to help producers adopt new agricultural techniques in their local contexts. The demonstrations were conducted with support from Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Agriculture and producer organization extensionists to ensure sustainability of the activity.
Maria Ouedraogo, a farmer from the Nebnooma cooperative in Silmiougou, a village in the commune of Kaya, applied these improved cowpea production practices, including the use of high-yielding seed variety.
“I reproduced it in my field of half a hectare and I am very satisfied,” she said. “I harvested five 100-kilogram bags of cowpeas in the 2021-2022 agricultural season, which I was able to sell at a good price.”
Sibila Sawadogo, a producer at the Wendkouni Cooperative in Nagbingou, in the commune of Boulsa, learned methods such as contour farming to conserve water on his plot. This is particularly important for his commune’s context, where they often face periods of drought.
“Since I have been experimenting with contour farming, I see that my plants grow better and do not dry out during these dry periods,” he said. “I experimented with this technique on half a hectare last year, and I have extended it to one hectare this year to harvest more and earn more money.”
For farmers like Sawadago, implementing efficient and sustainable cultivation practices that increase cowpea yields is a game changer, especially when farmers can take advantage of periods of high prices.
Amado Ouedraogo, a producer organization extensionist from the Songtaba cooperative in Tangasko, also benefitted from the demonstrations, scaling up the technology packages he teaches to his local peers and even increasing cowpea productivity on his own plot. Last year, he planted cowpea grain on just one hectare but decided this year to plant on all three of his hectares.
“I started to apply the techniques from my demonstration plot to my field because of the increased yields, and I invited my neighboring farmers to replicate it in theirs,” he said. “Nowadays, many of them apply it because they understand that they have a lot to gain, and I am happy to share my knowledge.”
Conducting hands-on demonstrations in a farm environment allows producers to increase their yield and adopt practices which are sustainable, efficient and revenue generating. This is particularly important moving forward as the effects of climate change continue to intensify. Climate-smart solutions are needed to ensure that farmers can continue to cultivate crops, like cowpea, and maximize their earnings.