Not an ordinary market
EU and FAO assist farmers in getting the seeds they need
Kiyonza, Burundi – Daphrose Minani has never seen a rose. She knows that in some parts of the world, people buy them to express their affection, but frankly, she wonders, what’s the use? She doesn’t see the point of putting flowers in one’s garden or on one’s table either, as some people in Burundi do. “I don’t even have a table,” she says.
Even more than civil war, it is nature that has caused the biggest hardship for Daphrose and her family. Three years of drought and a lethal virus wreaking havoc on cassava, an important staple crop, have taken a very heavy toll on the population of Kirundo province, in north-eastern Burundi, where she lives.
But today might well mark a new beginning. Daphrose has come to the village of Kiyonza to buy seeds for her plot of land. With the rainy season about to start, the time is right to prepare for sowing.
It is busy on Kiyonza’s main square. Scores of buyers like Daphrose bargain over a kilo of beans or maize. There should be around one thousand buyers, says Aloys Nizigiyimana, an FAO agronomist. “This is an encouraging sign of recovery,” he says. “To organise a fair, buyers and sellers need to be able to meet without let or hindrance. You don’t have that in times of war, with people displaced and shops destroyed.”
In fact, this is not an ordinary market, but a seed fair organised by FAO and local partners, with the support of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO). The buyers are vulnerable farmers who received vouchers to replenish their seed stock. Started in 2006, four seed fairs are now targeting over 7,000 farmers throughout Burundi.
Daphrose is happy with the thirteen kilograms of beans she bought with her vouchers worth around US$8. “One part will go into the pan,” she says. “Obviously, because we’re hungry.” And, apart from that, her hopes are turned upwards. “If only the sky could be kind to us, and it would rain.”
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