Rural Burkina Faso is battling more frequent and ever-longer droughts. The dry season, which traditionally lasted from mid-February to June, is increasingly extending into July and August, delaying the start of much-needed rainfall for planting.
Crops frequently dry up or are attacked by insect pests, rendering most of the harvest useless.
Farmers in the country’s northern Passoré province are getting a helping hand through one-day “plant clinics”, which allow them to bring in damaged crops for a consultation.
The initiative is part of the Building Resilience to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) programme, supported by Britain’s Department for International Development.
Erik Dirkx, who works for Welthungerhilfe, a German charity that, along with other partners, helped establish the plant clinic system, said the programme is gaining in popularity.
“The plant clinics took a while to get off the ground but are starting to bear fruit,” he said. “The farmers we speak to appreciate getting expert advice that’s available to them locally.”
In a country where over 80 percent of the population relies on subsistence agriculture, persistent droughts also have big implications for hunger.