korhogo and the savannah region : tackling the food self-sufficiency matter
Travelling North of Ivory Coast, in the wooded savannah typical of the Poro and Tchologo regions, is the occasion to see wholly new landscapes without leaving the country. Although the northern and southern parts of the state have been reunited and pacified during the previous years, there is still a strong climate, economic and social gap existing between both parts. This region - still isolated today - is paving the way to its future autonomy, and this development is strongly linked to food challenges.
the north-south duality in ivory coast
Lands south of Yamoussoukro benefit from a humid equatorial climate allowing very profitable crops as cocoa, coffee or rubber tree. The main rural crops are cassava, plantain banana, and various fruits and vegetables.
In the North, the arid climate is favorable to millet, corn, sorghum and rice during the rain season. The breeding of cattle for meat production is part of the agricultural tradition, and the cattle corridors from Mali and Burkina Faso are crossing the area. Cash crops are mainly cotton, mangoes and cashews.
This duality played a major role in the uneven development of the two parts of the country. While the South-West area thrived, notably driven by the economic upturn of cocoa business, and built international hubs of naval transportation, the North region did not developed so quickly - despite the cotton exportation. However, today the North empowers and gets more modern, and many private or public initiatives are leading the way.
the role of the educative system
The first achievement is the creation of the Péléforo Gbon Coulibaly University in 2012. From 1996 and until it was opened, there was only one faculty section in Korhogo and it was associated with the University of Bouaké (in the center of Ivory Coast) - even though Korhogo is the capital city of Poro province. Since then, the University was made independant, has now four different faculty departments, and several thousands of students are taught each year - hence avoiding urban migration of the youth. It also contains an agropastoral research department that trains and supports the actors of cattle breeding, a major economic sector in this part of the country.
the challenge of local production
The independency also has to concern the food sector, which is a massive challenge. Following the several crisis during the 2000s, the northern part of the country was partially cut off from the commercial roads from the South. This situation resulted in malnutrition or undernutrition of a part of the population - especially children - and in almost no access to base products formerly sent from Abidjan. Dramane Ouattara was part of the people who decided to launch initiatives to address this problem : in 2010 the entrepreneur born in Korhogo created a NGO to produce an infant flour meal, with the help of his brother and a friend. By using only local ingredients (peanuts, corn, dried fish) and distributing the product in isolated villages, he’s trying every day to complement the Healthcare System that was left weakened by the crisis.
creating a sustainable and regional processing industry
The emergence of the processing industry also participates in the modernisation of the North. Mangoes, cashews, cotton, rice or shea nuts are upgraded locally on diverse scales : from traditional handmade processing to brand new industrial facilities. Small structures as Chigata’s Women Cooperative making shea butter, or the Mango Cooperative that dries the fruits to export them, sometimes benefit from NGOs’ support (UNO Women) or symbolic programs from the biggest agricultural union in the country. In the majority of cases it is in-kind support : hardwall accomodations, new oven, training.
Because of - or thanks to - the scarcity of resources and the amount of money they represent, most of these processing industries are models of circular economy : nothing is lost and the final waste ends up used as fertilizer or fuel !