Let's take the example of an NGO that wants to help the community. They can offer micro-credit and training for entrepreneurs. What do you think that Awa might do to earn money? Could she sell milk from her goats or eggs? If she did, here are some questions that the NGO would need to answer to see if they could really help Awa earn some money.
Can you answer these questions?
Mamadou attends the Farmer Field School regularly and is a leader in his community helping others.
But Awa can’t come that regularly to the FFS because she has to look after the children and her family. She also has to cook and fetch water and fuelwood. She wants to grow more food for the family and also not have to walk so far to get fuelwood. How can CSA help her?
Awa may have a lot of challenges to growing new crops on her small plot. We need to understand what these challenges are. We can only do that by asking questions.
Awa and many of the women in the village couldn’t come to the FFS and some were even too shy to come. So, we held a meeting with the women near their houses and asked them how we could work with them better. They said that it was hard to come to the FFS because of their chores. In response, we said we could come to them and brought some different types of beans that survive and grow with less water.
They looked at the beans and all tried them and cooked with them. Later they reported that some of the beans were just too hard and took too long to cook. They need to boil the beans for much longer and use more fuelwood.
So, it was important to find different beans that didn’t take so long to cook.
Before, Mamadou used pesticides on his cotton. But they can be very bad for you and can stay in the ground for a long time. You also have to be very careful not to use any barrels or water bottles that may also be used for drinking.
Intercropping with other crops is key. We intercrop with legumes to improve the soil and fix nitrogen and boost productivity. We are also using seeds that produce a cotton that is more resistant to weevils and aphids. We have added some forage crops for fodder for Awa’s goats and do regular checks for aphids and weevils which we pick off and drown. Mamadou isn’t buying as much pesticide and he even gets more cotton from the smaller area that he plants. He can use and sell the fodder crops he grows.
But he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to produce as much cotton or that he wouldn’t be able to sell any of the other crops. Since he rents most of this land, he has to pay his brother regularly and cannot be in debt to him.
One way to make sure that Mamadou and farmers like him get a better price is to help build storage facilities and connect them to buyers who buy more cotton in bulk. In Mali, for example, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) was connected to villages for this purpose. BCI works with the Compagnie Malienne pour le Développement du Textile (CMDT) and AProCA (Association des Producteurs de Coton Africains). BCI helps farmers in Mali grow better cotton and certifies their produce. They make sure that their cotton gets to market and that our farmers get a better price.
Refer to the following links to learn more about BCI and IPM: