BACKGROUND OF SPIRULINA PRODUCTION IN BURKINA FASO
The first farm for aquaculture of the Spirulina seaweed alga, was launched in Koudougou in 1999 under the auspices of the Catholic Organisation for Development and Solidarity, OCADES (Organisation Catholique pour le Développement et la Solidarité).
The three main objectives at the time were
- Supply the nutritional health centres of the diocese (CREN – Centre de récupération nutritionelle) and other health centres in Burkina with Spirulina algae in the fight against malnutrition. These supplies are delivered at a loss, which is however offset by the profits from the commercial outlets.
- Sales of the remaining stocks (80%) on the open market in order to balance production costs and offer the public at large a food additive of high value at low cost.
- Fight unemployment in Koudougou by creating jobs at the farm.
At present the success of Spirulina (improvement in public health and the nutritional status of the underfed) has led to the extension of existing farms and the setting up of new ones to meet the growing demand in Burkina and in the neighbouring countries.
THE KOUDOUGOU FARMS – A HUMANITARIAN VENTURE
The farm at Le Petit Séminaire
The farm at Le Petit Séminaire has expanded in stages and now covers 900 m2. Today its average output is 170 kg a month. The farm is managed as a modern plant and since 2000 it is self-financing. It must also generate the necessary assets for its development programme. Nevertheless it is an undertaking with a humanitarian mission. Its chief objective remains giving the public access to Spirulina at a minimum price and distributing the product, even at a loss, among the most destitute. Following quality checks, the product from the farm received Health Ministry approval, in 2005
The Nayalgue Farm – a guided tour
As of 2001 the amazing success of the Spirulina production at the Koudougou plant resulted in the launching of additional production sites in Burkina, with the assistance of a number of Non Governmental Organisations. The Burkina Government also became involved in a large new project, the Nayalgue farm, in co-operation with the diocese of Koudougou and the French NGO TECHNAP.
Its objectives are: alleviating malnutrition and providing support to HIV/AIDS patients.
Nayalgue is a Moore word, meaning “that which expands”. The new plant of 3600 m2 will produce an estimated 8 tonnes of Spirulina a year. There are three target groups which will benefit from its output:
- Children below the age of 5, suffering from serious malnutrition and being in the care of the Nutritional Health Centres CREN (25% of the production earmarked for the treatment of 16 000 underfed patients a year)
- HIV positive patients (20% of the production set aside for 2000 cases in treatment per year)
- Members of the public wishing to enhance their health status (44 000 consumers a year, absorbing 55% of the production)
Hence it is a humanitarian undertaking which is now going ahead in Burkina.
By “undertaking” we understand a production unit led by a managing director and a team of professional assistants, working to ensure self-financing of the operation.
By the qualification “humanitarian”, we refer to the objective of giving the general public, including the very poorest, access to the product.
OTHER SPIRULINA PRODUCTION SITES IN BURKINA FASO
The Loumbila farm situated 15 km north of the capital Ouagadougou is run by missionaries and nuns, with the help of Antena Technology. This plant of 330 m2 yields 6 gram/ m2/ day, or roughly 50 kg per month.
The farm in Bobo Dioulasso (the 2nd largest town) is a plant financed by the Maltese Order to support a local unit which helps the poorest (street clinics). The farm has two aquaculture basins of 10m2 each. In this way the Order is able to ensure the distribution of about 20 doses of Spirulina a day to small children, aged 1 to 5 years
The Nanoro farm, located at 75 km north of Koudougou, has two basins of 50m2, built and operated by Camillian priests.
The farm in Ouahigouya (the 4th largest town), in the north of the country, forecasts aquaculture basins of a total of 400 m2. A plant of this size could generate 800 kg of Spirulina annually. The farm is supervised by Mr and Mrs André and Chantal Buhler, residents of Ouahigouya.
The Sapouy farm is in the province of Ziro, 100 km south of Ouagadougou, where two 10m2 basins produce an average of 120 gram of Spirulina a day.
The Sabou farm 85 km from Ouagadougou on the Ouagadougou-Bobo axis. 6 20m2 basins are under construction and will distribute Spirulina algae to the CREN nutritional centres and to persons in need.
ADVICE TO NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS INTERESTED IN SETTING UP AND MANAGING SPIRULINA PRODUCTION UNITS
A growing number of press reports, Internet web sites and TV programmes are hailing the wholesome effects of the Spirulina alga, which has led a number of NGOs to start production in developing countries. It is often stated in the press that “home grown” Spirulina is fairly easy to make
Our 10 years of experience in the field have proven the contrary.
We cannot stress enough the importance, before embarking on such a project, of attentively reading the document “Humanitarian Spirulina – thinking ahead” (Word format).
In conclusion, here are two recommendations:
· For NGOs with limited time for the actual production: support us, either by direct help to extend our production capacity or by purchase of Spirulina for humanitarian purposes, to be despatched to the destination of their choice;
· For NGOs who wish to become seriously involved: participation in training programmes organised by the CFPPA at the agricultural technical college in Hyères (VAR), France – short sessions of 5 days for senior NGO staff or longer sessions of 3 ½ months for future Spirulina project managers. Inquiries may be addressed to Mr Claude Villard, + 33 4 94 38 71 83, or the CFPPA offices +33 4 94 00 55 55.