Who owns the seeds produced in nature ?


Photo credit: Bioversity International

Women’s shifting rights to precious tree resources in Burkina Faso

By Barbara Vinceti, Scientist

Néré (Parkia biglobosa)—the African locust bean—is a very important tree species not only in Burkina Faso but across West Africa. It plays a significant role in the diet of rural and urban populations in Burkina Faso’s Sudano-Sahelian zone. The fruit provides seeds, which women process into a highly nutritious sauce (soumbala) that is eaten with grain-based dishes. Although women are the ones to harvest néré seeds for income and direct consumption, they have no secure access to tree resources. Moreover, the density of néré is declining because of threats hindering its regeneration, including population growth and the expansion of cultivated crops in an extensive agrarian system. In a condition of resource scarcity and increasing demand, changes in women’s use and access rights are taking place.

Catherine Pehou, a young researcher from Burkina Faso, shared her findings on shifting access rights to néré in a session on ‘Adoption, innovation and gender perspectives’ at the annual Tropentag conference held in Vienna from 19-21 September, 2016. Pehou analyzed the dynamic nature of women’s access rights and control over néré in three villages in Central-West Burkina Faso, inhabited by autochthonous (Nouni) and migrant ethnic groups (Mossi and Fulani). Through a mix of methods including participant observation, Catherine mapped the access rights of 180 women to 400 néné trees.

Read the full article: Bioversity International

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.