West African rice farmers explore alternatives to cheap, dangerous insecticides

Farmer-to-farmer training and on-farm research grow local adapted knowledge of biologically based integrated pest management that embraces biodiversity, careful observation and beneficial insects.

By Timothy J. Krupnik (with permission of Rodale Institute – photos of Sawadogo in original article)

September 14, 2007: At 58 years of age, most farmers in West Africa would prefer to spend their hard-earned free time downing sugary cups of mint tea in the shade of an Acacia tree. But this is not the case with Boureima Sawadogo, one of more than a thousand irrigated-rice farmers in the village of Bama in southwestern Burkina Faso. His land-locked nation is west of Niger, separated from the Atlantic Ocean to the south by the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Benin.

Standing barefoot in the slimy mud of his rice paddies, Sawadogo reaches out with his bare hands and skillfully snatches up a 1.5-centimeter long, orange-black insect buzzing through the thick, humid air. Sawadogo can usually be found tending to his fields throughout the day, and is known by local farmers as an expert in l’agriculture durable, or sustainable agriculture.