The Northern Village of Ramsa is filled with motivated individuals who are eager to work. Unfortunately, many are missing the financial means necessary to start income generating activities. In addition, the region is known for its potato production capabilities. Some gardeners were able to produce them in the past, but with mounting seed costs many had to abandon the activity.
Community members and Peace Corps Volunteer, Michael Beals, with the financial backing of WAFSP (West African Food Security Partnership) and Peace Corps, undertook the construction of a Community and Moringa Garden space, which finished in December 2015. We were also able to secure funding to start an annual potato seed fund where villagers would receive and then reimburse the costs after selling, thus ensuring a yearly start-up fund for gardening purposes. Starting in January 2016, the entire garden area was filled with sprouting potato plants, which we finally harvested in early March. Our local Farming Agent played a crucial role by training our gardeners and surveying them throughout the season. With his guidance we kept our production organic, using only manure-based compost and prohibiting poisonous insecticides and soil-deteriorating fertilizer. Upon harvesting, we were able to turn our 200kg of seeds into 2 metric tons with the majority of producers earning respectable profits. My counterpart and I found a large-scale potato buyer in Ouahigouya and we sold her our potatoes in bulk.
We did not produce with complete efficiency this season because our land has been fallowing for the recent past, and some gardener’s compost wasn’t entirely decomposed. Heightened market studies are necessary to determine the best time to produce potatoes and yield higher profits. Even though only a few earned significant profits, the others are eagerly planning for the coming year and what improve-ments to make. Once our producers are completely knowledgeable about potato production, they will be on their way to gaining complete food security through the means of higher dry-season incomes, thus creating their own funds to start other new projects.