Cross-border trade sources say Burkina Faso’ success story in agriculture is turning into a fable on account of threats farmers are facing in the countryside. Worried diplomatic sources have confirmed the story, saying it is unfortunate that the development is taking place at a time agriculture is scoring high in sub-Saharan Africa.
As a result, prices of vegetable, which were moderate last year around this time, have rocketed, despite trickles seeping through the borders from Togo in palm frond baskets and those from the Middle Belt in Ghana.
Vegetable importers from the south of Ghana, who enter the neighbouring country to buy during the lean season production calendar, say the outskirts of northeast Burkina Faso, for instance, has its irrigation systems abandoned by producers, mostly the youth, for whom the agricultural revolution of Blaise Compaore was targeted in the early 80s.
“We counted several points where previously we went to buy large quantities of vegetables and found the communities almost deserted. When we enquired further, we were told the countryside was no longer safe as Boko Haram militants were terrorising residents,” one Agbogbloshie trader told the Daily Statesman.
Abena, a buyer from one Accra’s market, who confirmed the story, together with a group she had been picking cargo trucks with, said in Ouahigouya, a vegetable producing community on the road to Mali, has been ruthlessly hit by the scourge.
Others also reported that another community, Dori, is also under siege from Boko Haram militants, particularly where Fulani herdsmen add to the threat of terrorism through robbery attacks on highways.
The tragic phenomenon is that there is now a steady migration of the youth from the countryside into Ouagadougou and Bobodioulasso, the economic capital, for menial jobs.
Market sources also add that there is now a stream of kayayei from Burkina Faso into Accra, with those with Ghanaian ancestry playing host to undocumented refuges.
Additionally, those affected families who can afford education in Ghana are gradually accessing Ghana’s favourable system through local relatives.
Burkina Faso, like Ghana, has similar free education and health schemes intended at preparing the youth for leadership, while the middle class prefer Ghana’s tertiary institutions for a healthy academic balance.
Burkina Faso in the last 20 years has been home to remarkable food security and export boom, finding acclaim in the annals of the World Bank and developing agencies.
Fortunate to have enjoyed international favour that enabled it to gain access to agro-indexed grants and soft loans to boost its agriculture sector, particularly vegetables and livestock, 90 per cent of workers in the informal economy in Burkina Faso were said to be in agriculture.
That is aide of those who were producing cereals and fruits for export and those in traditional European foods like potato or medicinal herbs, such as sesame and cotton, to feed their textile industries.
It is a centuries-old tradition for public servants, security officials, politicians, among others, in northern or Savannah-Sahel communities to invest in agriculture, particularly livestock, in sustaining family livelihoods and wealth.
Source: Daily Statesman