Text by Cosimo Bizzarri
Photos Matteo de Mayda

Just outside Koudougou, near the village of Ramongo, there is a large fenced field. About ten men and women, members of the Zaak Songo cooperative, which in the Mooré language means "the good house", are busy recovering water from the well or plowing the red earth with a shovel.
The president of the association is Didier, 34, a slim man with a snappy physique, who until a few years ago worked as a theater actor in Koudougou. Then, during a trip to Italy, Didier became passionate about agroecology and discovered that there were courses to follow in Burkina Faso.

Didier prepares a protective net in his garden

“I got tired of being a village idiot,” he laughs, “so I decided to be a farmer”. For the first two years, Didier focused on fertilizing the soil with compost, a fundamental operation to combat the progressive desertification that afflicts not only this area, but all of Burkina Faso.

Didier's goats are fond of papaya

In 2014, Didier founded Zaak Songo and started planting vegetables and raising animals: today he owns about thirty rams, rabbits and chickens. But his passion has always been papaya, the sweet fruit that in these latitudes we find ourselves eating together, in the shade of a tree.

The irrigation canals inside the papayas field

Today, Didier owns thirteen papaya plants, with which he produces jams, which he then sells at the associations and organic markets in the capital. “I don't produce for everyone”, Didier explains, “but for those who understand the need to eat healthy”. Its jam, in fact, has obtained the local organic certification and contains artemisia, a local plant that is used to prevent malaria.

protective net and a thermometer to measure the temperature of the compost

Didier certainly has an innate talent for marketing, but Mani Tese's help was essential to select the seeds, optimize the organization structure (which today involves and produces income for around sixteen people) and finance the installation of an enclosure to keep animals away and a solar-powered water pump.

Many local young people help Didier with daily activities

The future, for Didier and the others at Zaak Songo, is full of promises. “One day I would like this farm to become a center for ecotourism in the savannah,” says Didier. "Until then, I prefer to stay here with my rams rather than in the hubbub of the city”.

The women of the village near Didier's water pump