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Vegetable gardening in Burkina Faso: Drip irrigation and agroecological farming in light of the diversity of smallholders

Basile Gross
Institute of Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; basile.gross@gmail.com

Ronald Jaubert
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland; ronald.jaubert@graduateinstitute.ch

ABSTRACT: Small-scale irrigated vegetable production has expanded dramatically in Burkina Faso. Its development can be divided into four periods: the colonial period with the construction of small dams; the boom in reservoir development as a response to drought and famine; the period during which private irrigation was supported; and the current period of new irrigation technologies such as drip irrigation and, to a lesser extent, agroecological vegetable gardening. Since the 1990s, vegetable gardening projects have had a limited impact and irrigation development has been led and financed mainly by farmers. This situation still prevails with current projects, which throws into question their capacity to respond to the needs of family farms. This issue is addressed in the Réo area, where an in-depth survey of family farms revealed a large diversity of situations and livelihood strategies. It became evident from the study that drip irrigation or agroecological gardening can only be adopted by a very small number of family farms. In addressing the problems of smallholders in this regard, development organisations and public policies need to consider their diversity, and adapt accordingly to farming families’ needs and capacities.

KEYWORDS: Vegetable market gardening, irrigation, development project, agroecology, smallholder, family farming, Burkina Faso, Réo