Barkissa monitors the development of Acacia trees on an experimental site in northern Burkina Faso. ©FAO/Gideon Vink

green and productive again, and she is carrying out research to prove it.

"Something has to be done to tackle the environmental problems caused by climate change, desertification and population growth," says Barkissa from an Acacia field just outside the city of Djibo in Burkina Faso’s northern Sahel region.

Barkissa, a 30-year old microbiologist at Burkina Faso’s Institute for Environmental and Agricultural Research (INERA), is particularly interested in the role of micro-organisms in solving these problems.

Take the example of nitrogen fixation, she says. There are bacteria capable of transforming nitrogen gas in the air into nitrogen compounds that can be used by plants as a natural fertiliser. Some of these bacteria are symbiotic: they enter a plant through its roots and make nitrogen available for the host plant to grow.

Read more : FAO

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