Membership in farmers’ organizations brings farmers economic, social and political benefits


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“One finger alone cannot pick up flour,” as the proverb says. In other words, “United we will win.” Inspired by this proverb, small-scale farmers in Burkina Faso have been organizing to improve their farming production and their lives for over three decades.  Today, you will rarely find a village without a producers’ group, either male or female. Over time, farmers realized that only a group allows them to be strong and speak out with some credibility to their technical and financial partners in development. So, they made the decision to organize themselves into farming groups by crop or commodity sector, for example, rice farmers, cotton farmers, etc. Today, partnerships, co-operatives, federations, and confederations abound in the rural landscape of Burkina Faso.

Their objectives are noble: to contribute to the well-being of their members, to help increase farm production, to get good prices for farm products, to ease members’ access to microcredit, and to improve technical farming skills.

Boudry is the principal town of a department in the province of Ganzourgou. It is about a hundred kilometres from Ouagadougou, the capital, and includes 72 villages. In this department in 2005, a number of groups united to create the Union Départementale des Producteurs Agricoles de Boudry, or UDPA-B. The members of this group are small-scale farmers. They grow cereals, rice and cotton. In addition, within their group, they are gaining the knowledge and skills that will allow them not only to improve their lives, but also to assume responsibilities they didn’t believe they could manage.

This script shows how being part of a co-operative or group can allow women to gain new confidence, and also shows how involvement in the democratic governance of a co-operative can be a training ground for participation at other levels of governance.

The script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.


Small-scale farmers in Burkina Faso have been organizing to improve their farm production and their life for more than three decades. “A single finger cannot pick up any flour,” says the proverb. Today, partnerships, federations and confederations are increasingly common in rural areas of the nation.

TheUnion Départementale des Producteurs Agricoles de Boudry, or UDPA-B, is one of these farmers’ organizations. Our reporter, Adama Zongo, met with and interviewed two members of UDPA-B.

Prosper is a member of the farm producers’ group in Yaïka, a village located in the Boudry department of Burkina Faso, in the centre of the country. The forty years of his life do not show on his face, which expresses a certain self-confidence. He is married and the father of two young girls and three boys. His group joined UDPA-B five years ago.

We now know that the popular proverb that says: “United we will win,” really makes sense. Before we joined UDPA-B, our group was unable to benefit from the support that other groups in that organization enjoyed. Indeed, members in those groups received seeds, fertilizers and small loans to support their farming activities. We could not remain indifferent to that situation. So we decided to join UDPA-Bin order to benefit from the advantages it offers to its members.

Today, the UDPA-Bincorporates seventy groups, of which twenty are women’s groups. The organization represents about two thousand male and female producers. The people we met in two villages of Boudry seem satisfied with the actions that UDPA-B has taken on their behalf. Elisabeth is a young woman from the Boéna group, a founding member of the UDPA-B. Here is what she had to say:

(In an excited and eager voice) It is thanks to the UDPA-Band to my group that I am granting you this interview. You know that it is difficult for a woman to speak out. And it’s even worse to speak into a mic! But the group and UDPA-Bhave transformed me so that today, I have confidence when I speak. I’m not afraid anymore.

Elisabeth can’t wait to share her experience in UDPA-B with us.

(Excited and eager) I can’t tell you all the good that the group did for us, through the UDPA-B. For instance, every year I buy school supplies for my daughter. She’s been going to school for three years. I hope that she can study for a long time, so she can have some prestigious position in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital city. I also contribute to buying medication when my children or my husband or I get sick. Today, I have a wardrobe, and it is with a sense of serenity that I go to wedding and baptism ceremonies, and to information meetings. The different financial contributions that I must make are no nightmare anymore for me. I’m not saying that I’m rich, but I don’t complain too much. I am thankful to God.

As you heard, Elisabeth is happy even if she is not rich. Indeed, let’s recall this proverb: “Money cannot buy happiness.” Elisabeth is a hard-working woman. She earns her living by the sweat of her brow.

I obtained a plot of land in a reclaimed swamp that is divided into lots. It is twenty metres long by ten metres wide. On this land, I grow onions during the dry season and rice during the winter. This allows me to earn money and to meet a few needs. Thanks to the UDPA-B, I obtained a small loan from the co-operative savings and credit bank. With that money, I bought sorghum that I germinate for a few days, then sell to women who makedolo(Editor’s note: millet beer). This allows me to make some profit. So, all in all, I’m able to make a bit of money when the season and the prices are good.

Let’s get back to Prosper, who has only good things to say about his group and about UDPA-B. Prosper has been trained as a producer of black-eyed peaseeds. He credits UDPA-B and his group for his success.

UDPA-B organized trainings for the members of the different groups. For example, I became a producer of black-eyed pea seeds. Other producers became facilitators who hold information and awareness sessions about violence towards women, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, and the fight against female genital mutilation. As for me, I work on raising awareness about the adoption of improved seeds. We are very much exposed to climate unpredictability around here. We are not sure of the seasons’ cycle anymore. This is one big reason why UDPA-B helps its members get inputs at reasonable rates.

As well as improving the economic and social situation of its members, UDPA-B also helps them become more responsible in their lives. Prosper is proud of the audience he enjoys today in his region. He tells us more.

Thanks to UDPA-B, I have an audience when it comes to talking about black-eyed pea seeds. People listen to me when I speak and I feel that I have a responsibility. Some members represent UDPA-Bduring meetings in the capital. Some of them made a lot of friends and became famous while chairing sessions. Others feel like they have grown wings, and are seeking to win the next municipal elections. All this has been made possible thanks to the groups, with the support and drive of UDPA-B. I don’t know what would have happened to us without these organizations. I invite each and every one of us to hold each other’s hands so we can accompany each other in our quest for a better life.

We have listened to Elisabeth and Prosper, members of two groups that are part of theUnion départementale des producteurs agricoles de Boudry, or UDPA-B.We have the feeling, based on their testimonies, that we have met very satisfied persons. We wish a lot of courage to the organizations that work tirelessly for the economic, social and political promotion of rural people.


Contributed by: Adama Gondougo Zongo, journalist at JADE Productions, Burkina Faso, a strategic partner of Farm Radio International.
Reviewed by: John JulianDirector, International Communications & Policy, Canadian Co-operative Association.

Thanks to:

  • Djibril Sedego, host of Radio de l’unité de Boudry
  • The representatives of the Yaïka and Boéna groups, members of the Union.
  • The representatives of the UDPA-B

Information sources

Interviews with:

  • Simon Pierre Nana, general secretary of the Union départementale des producteurs agricoles de Boudry
  • Mrs. Elisabeth Kaboré, member of the women’s group of Boéna
  • Prosper Congo, member of the farm producers’ group of Yaïka

The interviews were conducted on July 2 and July 3, 2011.

Further information
Quel rôle pour les organisations paysannes du Faso? Un entretien avec Bassiaka Daoprésident de la Confédération paysanne du Faso (CPF). Sos Faim, #99, p. 19-21, Fevrier/Mars 2011.