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Dispatches from the Consom’Acteurs film festival

Inoussa Maïga

The first Consom’Acteurs film festival turned food and agriculture into popular topics of discussion among young people in Burkina Faso.

The Consom’Acteurs film festival May, initiated by the Burkina Faso Association of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators (ABJCA) aimed to arouse people’s interest in food and agriculture. Documentary films to arouse the interest and awareness of the people of Burkina Faso regarding issues related to food and agriculture: that is the venture initiated by a film festival called Consom’Acteurs held from 1 to 3 May 2015 in Ouagadougou. Consom’Acteurs is a contraction of two French words: consommateurs (consumers) and acteurs (actors). The concept is a vehicle for the idea that today, more than ever, each citizen of Burkina Faso must question his or her consumption in order to become a genuine contributor to the development of our country.

This first edition of the festival comprised four screenings followed by discussions, four thematic panels and tasting sessions with dishes made from local agricultural products. One of the films, Paysans d’ici et d’ailleurs blues sans frontières, draws a parallel between realities experienced by farmers in two Burkina Faso villages and farmers in Luxembourg. It shows that farmers in both places go through the same hardships and feel the same attachment to the land.

In the case of Burkina Faso, the film reveals that more and more young people are leaving life on the farm, which no longer appeals to them. ‘I don’t want my child to be a farmer. It would be much better if he became a teacher or a nurse,’ says one woman farmer in the film. ‘This reflects the true mentality of our parents today, of those of us who have been to school, of you journalists, and of the students. It’s only when you’ve failed in everything else that you go back to agriculture,’ says Souleymane Ouédraogo regretfully, former director-general for the promotion of the rural economy. And so this raises the crucial question: how can we make the occupation of farmer more attractive in Burkina Faso in order to attract and keep young people in the profession?

In search of change

Paul Taryam Ilboudo, chairman and CEO of the Société Agropastorale et de Services, says that ‘farming is a job for both the present and the future. I believe that is how we can work things out. If young farmers manage to produce, be self-sufficient and have a surplus, and market their goods, then they’ll be able to make money. They can use this money to improve their houses, thereby providing work for village builders, and install solar panels, which will provide work for young village engineers. It is through agriculture that we will be able to provide jobs for our young people, and that is how we will be able to pave the way for our future,’ Ilboudo added.

Souleymane Ouédraogo is convinced that young people need something novel in agriculture. ‘If they have to practice subsistence farming like our parents used to, young people will not turn to agriculture. Youngsters need something else. That is why we now have to accept that the world has changed and that young people need to move towards entrepreneurship. We have to create the conditions for farming to become a real business for young people,’ according to the researcher.

Yennenga Kompaoré, a young entrepreneur working in the field of communication, believes that young people need more inspiration. ‘We need to be inspired, to have people alongside us, opposite us, who motivate us through the pertinence of what they do,’ she says. Kompaoré never misses an opportunity to call on the people of Burkina Faso to employ their skills in the service of the rural environment. ‘In my view, farming is not just a matter of being in a field with a tractor. Those who, after their studies, work in a bank, in insurance, marketing or aeronautics, who are managers in certain institutions, can all use their skills on behalf of the rural environment and small farmers.

The Consom’Acteurs film festival is intended to turn food and agriculture into popular topics of discussion. This first edition was a huge success, due in large part to the public debate it inspired. For ABJCA, the gamble paid off. The association brought in 10 communication and journalism students who took part in reporting and providing on-line coverage of the event. These students and the young professionals involved in ABJCA have thus become genuine agents for change. They have been encouraged and enriched by the organisation of this festival.

And that is not all. A film report and radio shows on the festival are being produced in several local languages. These tools will be broadcast as part of a campaign following the festival to provide further support of the Consom’Acteurs concept. For real change in agriculture in Burkina Faso, it is imperative that every citizen takes action, working to promote the occupation of the farmer and to encourage increased consumption of local agricultural products. 

Copyright © 2016, CTA. Technical Centre for Rural and Agricultural Cooperation

CTA is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.