The project is not new. In 2019, when the towns of Épernay and Fada N’Gourma (Burkina Faso) celebrated their 40th anniversary, the idea of bringing to France a small group of farmers from this town of 41,000 inhabitants of the eastern Burkina Faso has started to germinate. Finally, after a pandemic and a lot of uncertainties, it was on November 3 that a Fadalaise delegation, made up of seven members, arrived in the Marne for nearly four weeks of discussions around agriculture, but also of the culture.
“We wanted to change the meaning of this twinning, which is often humanitarian-oriented, by insisting on professional exchanges,” explains the president of Épernay-Jumelages, Marie Choquet. The agricultural sector was chosen, since the sector in Burkina “employs more than 80% of the population”, adds Aristide Thiombiano, head of decentralized cooperation and representative of Fada N’Gourma. The small West African country mainly produces food crops, intended for the local market, such as maize, sorghum (coarse mils), millet (small mils), sesame or beans.
To train the farmers of tomorrow, Burkina has 9 rural promotion centers, including one in Fada N’Gourma, from which come the 5 volunteers staying in the Marne. A trip that allowed them to get in touch with professionals and agricultural trainers. “Here, agriculture is totally mechanized while this is hardly the case with us, where labor is in great demand, because we only have small equipment”, notes Yentema Tankoano, who operates 12 ha in Fada N’Ngourma and raises draft oxen, which he uses for plowing his fields.
“Thanks to our stay, we learned certain techniques that we can put in place, even if we do not have the same equipment,” adds Bapouquini Thiobiano, who grows corn, sesame, beans and soya. “They discovered that the cooperative system is very developed in France, unlike Burkina. The contexts are different, but it is important for young people like them to learn to pool in order to maximize the profit on their products. It gave them ideas, ”adds Marie Choquet.
What good memories
Their stay was also the opportunity to participate in a film debate around a Burkinabé film and to a convivial end-of-stay evening. And to discuss, also, future exchanges. “We will learn to discover each other. It is a baby which is being born, we hope that we will allow him all together to grow up in order to improve our agricultural practices and our working conditions ”, concludes Aristide Thiombiano, who will keep only fond memories of this. stay. “We also visited Reims, Châlons and Paris, it was magnificent. I also learned to cut champagne. It was an exchange for work, but we didn’t forget the fun! “