Sheep Sharing?

The Gift of a Sheep!

At a training in Burkina Faso in March, one of the participants was particularly touched by the humility of the ECHO staff and their teaching style that allowed even people who did not attend school to understand and to put into practice what they had learned. He concluded by saying “people of the city have no consideration for us when they come to the village, but as for you ECHO, you have been different, you are so humble and so good with us.” 

Another one was really pleased and has appreciated the tools and the methods used by ECHO. He said: “everything you teach is based on tools available to us”.

At the end of the training, the village chose to give a sheep as a gift to ECHO to recognize their hard work. They were then asked to deliver this gift to the head of ECHO and thank him.  We pass along the gift and thanks to you! 

Thank you for equipping farmers in Burkina Faso through ECHO!      

P.S. ECHO staff members confessed to the villagers that they were not very sure that this sheep could reach the ECHO Director in Florida and that his travel might be limited to Ouagadougou.                                                                                                     

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.

Reflections from West Africa

by Tim Albright, ECHO COO

I was a privileged to attend the 3rd West Africa Forum in Ouagadougou. It was reassuring to see how many returnees attended but even more encouraging to see how ECHO’s training is beginning to have its desired impact on people’s lives. One attendee who came to the 2010 and 2012 Forums (and learned about Moringa), paid for a display table and sold at least 10 distinct Moringa products that he and his wife are now producing. These ranged from Moringa powder capsules to shampoo to dehydrated food packets that can be added to sauces.

ECHO champions, Emile and Josué, shared their stories and led an afternoon workshop on Foundations for Farming (FFF). Their animated testimonies were contagious and produced great responses and warm applauses of appreciation for their efforts. Emile has recently opted to model FFF in an area that is highly visible along the road but has extremely poor soil. His family is from the lineage of the “Chef de Terre” (those in charge of land use and distribution) in the village. When he began working this poor quality land, it provoked significant questions since he controls access to the more productive land. This obviously sparked the interest level of the surrounding community. Furthermore, when his harvest was so much better than everyone else’s, people began to take notice. One farmer tried FFF on his cotton field and had tremendous results!

 One of the pertinent lessons of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 is not how many talents one has but rather what one does with his/her talent(s). In other words, how faithful you are with what you have. It was a true blessing to see that faithfulness in action in the lives of so many at the West Africa Forum. 

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.