Silvopastoral... and other words you didn't know you needed to know

ECHO International Agriculture Conference 2016 is the coolest conference ever!

Refreshing! Is that a term that normally is connected to long hours and busy days? For anyone with interest in agriculture and sustainable development, the ECHO conference fits that bill and more. 

Delegated huddle together discussing new trends in sustainable development and share both challenges and successes.

Stan Brown presents about wild fruits from Central Asia

Stan Brown presents about wild fruits from Central Asia

Plenary speakers share years of experience in their fields, spurring other practitioners to try a proven technique or method. 

The ECHO conference welcomed 189 delegates this year working in over 20 countries around the world. 

Hands-on workshops include how to make Chaya green tortillas.  

Hands-on workshops include how to make Chaya green tortillas.  

Evening settings included Silvopastoral systems in Brazil, livestock management in jungle pastures, and other in-depth expert-led topics. 

Training Trainers: ECHO West Africa 2015 Networking Forum

“Hungry to learn” and “excited to share” are only some of the phrases used to describe attendees of ECHO’s third biennial West African Networking Forum. But you would have to say “soif d’apprendre”, and “heureux de partager” because this forum was held entirely in French to better meet the needs of practitioners across Francophone West Africa. A complimentary English Forum was held in March in Accra, Ghana. (For more on that Forum, see pages 7-8)

Held this January in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the Forum offered large-group presentations, hands-on workshops, and smaller breakout sessions for in-depth coverage of various topics. 

128 participants came from the following countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Togo, Chad, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the USA. 

Every attendee went home with their own special memories. Here are a few of our favorite highlights of the event: 

•    Jean Apedoh, who first learned about the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) through an ECHO Forum in 2010, was this year’s SRI Specialist presenting at the 2015 Forum. Through ECHO’s introduction of the topic and support, collaboration with other organizations in the region, and his own personal initiative, Jean says, “ECHO made me a champion and regional specialist in SRI.”

•    Emile Sanou and Josué Baya are also learners-turned-trainers who shared their experiences implementing Foundations for Farming (FFF) in a large group presentation and a hands-on afternoon workshop. 

•    The session on Biogas production presented by ECHO’s Alain Gouba was the most popular afternoon workshop with over 40 attendees. Alain was able to share a biogas system that was made completely with locally available materials. 

•    One attendee who at the 2010 and 2012 Forums learned about Moringa, paid for a display table and sold at least ten distinct Moringa products that he and his wife are now producing. These ranged from Moringa powder capsules and shampoo to dehydrated food packets that can be added to sauces.

•    Before the mid-morning break on the first day of the Forum, the French version of Agricultural Options for Small-Scale Farmers book from ECHO was introduced, and it literally took two minutes to sell out. Others have signed up on the waiting list so that when a new stock is available they will be able to receive one. 

We are thrilled that these individuals are taking the education and training available through ECHO and multiplying it far beyond ECHO’s reach. Together, we are truly training trainers.

This Technique DOUBLED His Maize Production... ECHO in Action

From the ECHO West Africa Regional Impact Center

Emile Sanou is a national of Burkina Faso who had the opportunity to participate in the ECHO West Africa forums in 2010 and 2012 held in Ouagadougou.


Emile is a small-scale farmer working in Kouka, a town located in the west of the province Banwa in the Black Volta region also known as "the breadbasket of Burkina Faso." Kouka is in the cotton belt of Burkina which is renowned for the extensive use of chemical inputs by producers. This dependence on chemical inputs has increased budgets for farmers and consequentially has begun a spiral of impoverishment in the region despite good crop production. Much of the farmer's income is spent on repaying loans for chemicals and medical care, leaving little room for investment.

After attending the ECHO conference in 2010, Emile decided to apply the method of the FFF or FPA (foundations for agriculture). Other farmers in the region scoffed at him for digging holes and planting according to the methods he had learned. However, the surprise of Emile, and other farmers, was great at the harvest: not only its FPA field produced, but also the crops were higher on these fields than those in which he applied his old practices. The entire Kouka farming community took notice, those who scoffed were now asking him about his method.

Emile was inspired to share his new practices with peer farmers that are organized in a GPC (cotton producers group). He voluntarily trained 15 members of the GPC in Kouka, and six other farms experimented with the FPA method. Emile taught them the FPA applied to maize and they have applied it not only to corn but sorghum, cotton, and millet. Tougouma Amadé, a member of the group, applied the FPA method to his cotton field and produced 2.3T/ha in a single season where he had been only producing 700 to 900 kg before. Gansonré Boureima, another member, doubled maize production. And, Boureima Zongo is full of words of praise for Emile and the FPA method that allowed him to also double its cotton production at a cheaper cost.

Testimonials such as those of Gansonré Hamadeh, Zida Aly, and Gansonré Boukaré testify to the benefits of the FPA method and illustrate the impact of the ECHO forums in the lives of farmers in Kouka. According to these farmers, with this method, they have managed to reduce the area planted while increasing performance and soil fertility. Every farmer involved saw their crop performance double or triple. Despite some difficulties inherent in introducing any innovation, all of them are calling for new trainings on FPA methods.