« It was my old man who made me discover and love tree nursery work”

Here I am, back in Burkina. The rains are also back, so we now have a greening Burkina. Last Saturday, on June 25th on my way to Bobo Dioulasso, I sidetracked to the Dagara region to say hello to my friend Nouritol Somé in Valley 7, along the road from Dano to Koumbia.

Nouritol dans sa pépinière avec deux de ses employésVisite de la pépinière, à V7JNouritol in his tree nursery with two of his assistants Tour of the tree nursery I found him in his tree nursery around 3 p.m. busy with his work. He was putting young mango plants in plastic bags assisted by two of his employees. The rainy season seems to have started for real and customers will soon turn up and make their orders. This newsletter is a reminder that now is the time to prepare for planting, as well as a message of praise of all those who run tree nurseries. All have their specific personal history. Nouritol Somé’s is interesting for several reasons.

He was born in the Guénguéré community, near Dano, in 1966. At that time the village elders had a profound respect for the land and the trees. There were sacred groves of trees (where felling even one single tree was forbidden). Certain species were protected everywhere, such as the shea tree, the néré and the acacia albida. But Nouritol’s father went even further. He was a hardworking man. He conveyed his deep love of trees, all trees, to his son. Nouritol was only ten years old when his father told him to take an interest in trees. ”They give us life, like millet and groundnuts. Do not be afraid of planting trees, even if you are the only one.”

This, however, did not stop the young Nouritol from leaving for Ivory Coast to try his luck. But in 1985 he returned to his village to see his family. He found his father seriously ill. At his death Nouritol decides to remain with his family. He is there in 1990, when the Management Authority of the Volta River Basins (AVV – l’Autorité pour l’Aménagement des Vallées des fleuves Voltas) was looking for 65 volunteers to settle in Valley 7 between Dano and Koumbia, as the tsé-tsé mosquito had by then receded.

On y trouve des acacia albida, des manguiers, des nérés...Notre pépiniériste devant son champ de manioc !Here you find acacia albida, mango and néré Our tree nursery farmer in front of his manioc plantation Like his fellow settlers he received a few implements to start clearing land: shovels, wheel-barrows and iron bars … In 1992 and AVV official, having noticed his interest in and work around trees, invited him to a training course for tree nursery managers in Orodara. There he learnt to make grafts and produce beautiful mango trees and also guava ,, and lemon trees … He obtained seeds to grow eucalyptus, cashew, néré and acacia albida.

Today, through his perseverance and love of a job well done, but also his pioneering spirit, Nouritol has quietly advanced to managing an estate where his land, his soil and his trees exhale good health. His most recent initiative: a manioc field. We go out and visit it together. It is magnificent! On our way back he picks a cashew nut and comments: ”Since the soil is good, this tree produces nuts all year round.”

At the end of my visit, looking at what one farmer has been able to produce almost single-handed, I tell myself that every rural community could (should) have its ”tree nursery farmer”. I wonder what the state of progress is with the President’s project ”8 000 villages, 8 000 tree groves”. Why not a new project: ”302 rural communities, 302 tree nursery farmers”?

Bobo Dioulasso, June 26th
Maurice Oudet
Director, SEDELAN

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