One herder’s plump cows signal improvement in Burkina Faso
June 23, 2014
MCC’s five-year compact with Burkina Faso ends on July 31. This story is part of a series of blogs and stories that highlights the accomplishments of this compact through the voices of the people who will benefit most from MCC’s investments in Burkina Faso. Read the stories and learn more about the Burkina Faso compact.
Aboubacari Tall has a different approach to raising his cattle.
His neighbors’ herds roam free, but Tall has built a wooden stable just outside his home in northern Burkina Faso.
His neighbors’ herds reproduce naturally, but Tall selects his best cows to undergo artificial insemination, producing a stronger herd.
And his neighbors’ cows feed on whatever grass they can find. Tall, however, wades into a nearby stream to uproot wild vegetation, dry it, and feed his cows on a schedule—a feed mixture for which he is the top contender in his region for a national award.
The hard work is paying off. While many other cows in the region sport loose skin and visible ribcages, Tall’s seven dairy cows are plump and appear healthy.
The difference, he said, is because MCC-funded agricultural agents taught him better ways to take care of his herd.
“Before, I did everything in the traditional way,” said Tall, a father of five children. “The cows just roamed in the fields behind my house. Now I’m using new techniques, and I’m making more money.”
Tall received training on improved livestock techniques as part of MCC’s five-year, $480.9 million compact with Burkina Faso. The $142 million Agriculture Development Project is helping Burkinabé better manage irrigation and water resources, diversify agriculture and improve access to rural finance.
Cattle breeders have already started seeing changes since the beginning of the project. Monitoring data indicates the average weight of their cows jumped from 213 pounds in 2008 to 549 pounds in 2013.
And because of the MCC-funded training, improved techniques and receiving a cow with better genetics, Tall is expecting more than double his daily milk production—a boost that would net Tall another $6 each day, he said.
Tall also collects the cow manure and sells it to his neighbors for fertilizer—a practice that has earned him almost $550 over the past 18 months.
Agricultural agents taught Tall the value of stabling a herd, investing in better feed and using selective breeding. The latter holds great promise for cattle producers in the region, said Stephane Tuina, a veterinarian who trains local farmers on behalf of MCC.
“Before this project, no one in the region knew about artificial insemination,” he said. “But it can be very effective, and people are beginning to learn. [Tall] is really setting the example for his community.”
And Tall’s neighbors are noticing. One of his cows recently gave birth to twins—traditionally a sign of good luck to come for Tall and his community.