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Sowing Seeds of a Bright Future For Burkinabe Cotton Farmers

BOBO-DIOULASSO, Burkina Faso—For three generations, Kakuy Ouanko’s family has relied on the sale of cotton and cereals to earn a living. Every season, the size of the crop largely defines the amount of food the 33-year-old farmer will have for the year, and whether he will be able to afford to send his three children to school.
But crop yield has become increasingly unpredictable in west Burkina Faso, where Kakuy works the family farm with help from his brothers. Because of climate change, rains are now less regular and at times too intense, leading to longer dry spells and land erosion that hurts productivity. The impact is often tragic for smallholder farmers in the region, who have no other source of income.
This is the first program launched by IFC and the World Bank as part of the Sahel Irrigation Initiative , and it presents farmers with financing alongside training for soil-water management, rainwater capture, and irrigation. The strategy seeks to stabilize and ultimately increase cotton yields, strengthening food security and boosting farmers’ incomes.
It’s a new approach in a region where traditions run deep. “This represents an extraordinary change in decades-old farming habits,” says Aissatou Eugenie Sow, an IFC finance specialist. “Many of these farmers had never used irrigation before.”