Dr. Some Koussao

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Many agronomists spend much of their careers studying one crop. Some Koussao has already deeply examined the characteristics of three - the onion tomato and okra - and now is poised to learn more about a fourth the sweet potato. Some a 40-year-old father of two from Burkina Faso hopes that his AGRA-sponsored doctorate research at the University of Ghana
Legon will help unlock secrets about the sweet potato in order to expand the range of the crop into areas with less rainfall. Since 1999 Some has been a researcher at the Institut de l'environnement et des recherches agricoles or INERA based in the capital Ouagadougou and one of the four research institutes of the National Centre for Science and Technology. He also spent two-and-a-half years as a natural sciences teacher. He was born in the southwestern part of Burkina Faso the fourth of 14 children to his father who has three wives. His parents grew a wide variety of crops on their farm: sorghum millet maize yams ground nuts soybeans and cotton. Cotton was their cash crop. They ate everything else. "I am a son of agriculture " Some said. "I was always helping my father in the fields." Some who along with his wife and children has been living in Ouagadougou (pronounced waga-doo-goo) worked in several departments at INERA. His specialty was looking at the effects that different types of fertilizer were having on crops. But he became interested in sweet potatoes after talking with farmers and hearing their frequent complaints about low yields. Burkina Faso he learned does not have a single researcher specializing on tuberous plants. After he finishes his doctorate he could be the first. "Over the last five years I've heard a lot from farmers. They are not assisted " he said. "Every year we have organized a ceremony for farmers growing sweet potato and every year we hear that the lack of varieties is a problem. Farmers say 'We want to grow a good sweet potato but we have been using the same variety as our ancestors.'" Now he hopes to develop new varieties that could grow in the south and central parts of Burkina Faso which have less rainfall than other parts of the country. "I know the problem with the sweet potato " he said. "Now I hope to find the solution."