The story of Robert
'Seeing is believing'
Robert Tiemtoré works on product development for Rijk Zwaan in Burkina Faso. Here, vegetables are very popular, but the technical expertise of growers is rather low. A local approach is needed to improve this situation. Besides selecting locally adapted varieties, the challenge is to reach the large group of small-scale growers.
“As a child I spent many hours working on my parents’ farm. It motivated me to learn more about cultivation techniques, so I went to the agricultural college in Bobo. It taught me, amongst other things, the importance of fresh water and resistances against diseases. With my current knowledge I want to contribute to tackling food insecurity and to the development of the vegetable industry in our country.”
“I mainly make improvements by testing new varieties at growers, so they can be trialled under local circumstances. One of our goals is to introduce early varieties that require less labour and less water; that makes them cheaper to produce and therefore they generate a better income for the growers when they are sold. The majority of the harvest is sold by the women who take it to local markets, but high-quality produce can also be exported to countries like Ivory Coast or Ghana.”
“Thanks to visiting many different growers, I see what seeds and services can do. The quality of the produce increases and there are fewer problems with diseases. However, it is still a major challenge to reach so many small growers. Our strategy is to find motivated growers in all important areas. Recently we ran a small trial with a new variety. It attracted many growers from the area who all wanted to know how to manage such quality. That’s exactly the kind of snowball effect that we’re looking for because, after all, seeing is believing.”
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