Surprise! Another message.

I could not resist sending you two additional stories coming out of this last trip to Burkina Faso.

Secondary school teachers in private schools in Bobo Dioulasso:
Most private school founders are business people. They are not interested in the education part but in money coming from education. For example the director we have for our Private Agricultural School (LAP) was in charge of studies in a secondary school for 2 years without being declared (no retirement plan, no health insurance). Most of the teachers of private secondary schools are temporary teachers. A permanent teacher would have to be declared (16% additional costs for the employer) and paid monthly. Most temporary teachers have another job as teachers in a public school (fully employed).

Since almost one month the temporary teachers in private schools are on strike to ask for an increase in their hourly rates. They receive today 2.000 cfa / hour (€ 3) and they ask for 3.500 cfa (€ 5,3). The reason of this demand is that the school founders have increased their rate for school fees of about 25% in October 2011. It now costs around 90.000 cfa (€ 137) for one year for one kid.

The situation got ugly when one of the founders of a private school insulted the temporary teachers and told them that he will get teachers from Mali (cheaper and better he said). The teachers rampaged the school and burnt all archives.

Meanwhile kids of private schools do not have school. They are in the street. They do not want that the public school students get lessons, so they go to the public school and make sure that they get out of classes. Nice mess!!!!!

Just to show how good is the education in Burkina is, the students who have graduated from high school in 2011 do not know yet when the universities will start this year. Maybe in January, maybe in February, maybe not at all this year!!!

Jatropha:
Jatropha is a plant which produces seeds containing oil which can be used as a bio fuel. You might have read or heard about it. Most information is very positive and how good it will be for farmers, for the country, for the environment.

Now some real information. Not information manipulated by the politics, marketing and / or the people wanting to get funding from western governments.

What is below is for Burkina Faso. I do not have information from other countries, but we can assume that it is not very far from the situation in Burkina.

Some numbers:

  • One hectare with a density of 600 bushes of jatropha will produce 1.000kg of seeds when on good ground (ground where cereals or cotton could also grow). It has only production per year.
  • A 1000 kilo of seed produces only 250 kg of oil
  • The seeds are paid 70 cfa (€ 0,11) per kg to the farmers
  • To be profitable, the refining plant needs to produce 5.000 kg per day of oil. For it to be able to work full time (300 days per year)  a surface of 6.000 hectares of Jatropha would be needed!!!

The company called Agritex group is promoting and investing in the Jatropha. They have a website which is not very clear and where there are certainly NO NUMBERS.

They told the farmers that it will be great for them to plant Jatropha on their good land together with their cotton or corn. Since at the beginning the Jatropha is only a small shrub there was not much competition with the cotton and the corn. It takes 3 years to get a first production of seeds from the jatropha. At this time the size of the Jatropha shrubs makes it impossible to grow something else beside it. Farmers were had one more time . Sofitex for the cotton and Agritex with jatropha.

The Jatropha was supposed to be planted on land where nothing else could grow. But then the yield would be too low. Agritex  had to get the farmers’ good land.

Collection of the seeds is dangerous, the sap coming out of the bark gives rashes and is dangerous for the eyes. In addition the oil is very dangerous if ingested. A small amount can kill you!!! So where is the positive side for the farmers I ask you?

All this information was given to me by a German woman who is making her doctorate thesis on the subject. According to her none of the projects with jatropha have an economical value. In contrary it make the farmers poorer and even investors will be losing money. Why are they doing it? For the farmers because they do not know better than being abused, but for the investors I am puzzled and do not have an answer. Do you?

Difficult to see an end to these situations when the power are in the wrong hands (political and financial).

Bird1The “best of the best” red birds

Bird2

Proverb: A roaring lion does not catch any prey (Un lion qui grogne n’attrape pas de proie).

Until January for the next news bulletin.

Hervé

 

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