Farmers in Burkina Faso and Mali face severe challenges, including the fragility and poverty of their soils, losses due to pests and diseases, and adversities related to climate change. The current situation is likely to worsen due to rapid population growth, extensive agriculture and livestock production, undervaluing of local knowledge and low use of improved production technologies. In the face of these challenges, some farmers have developed agroecological innovations that have proven to be locally effective in their specific socio-economic contexts. Several production technologies have also been proposed to manage these biophysical constraints.
However, both local innovations and production technologies need to be adapted and scaled up to ensure food and nutritional security of rural populations. The implementation of Farmer-Led Research Networks project (FaReNe I) in Burkina Faso and Mali has enabled the identification and evaluation of several local innovations in the field of agroecological intensification (AEI). In Burkina Faso, joint experiments were focused on soil and water conservation technologies, including improved compost production and assisted natural regeneration in two provinces and natural resources management of a community botanical garden.
In Mali, joint experiments focused on degraded lands recovery through farm manure incorporation and cropping systems integrated with trees. Three formal farmer-led research networks have been set up in Burkina Faso and two informal ones in Mali to address crop and livestock production constraints and natural resource management issues. In addition, FaReNe I strengthened capacities in research methods, application of local innovation support funds and leadership to the benefit of team and groups’ members in the two countries. In Mali, the use of support funds included sheep rearing by women in three sites, allowing them to multiply four-fold the initial funds invested. In Burkina Faso, support funds focused on soil and water conservation practices, improved compost production, bio-pesticide use and production in two provinces and formalization of farmers’ networks. This project continues the work of the FaReNe project.
The project aims to support and strengthen farmer-led research networks to facilitate the development and evaluation of AEI options in Burkina Faso and Mali. Specific objectives include:
Improve at least two farmers’ land reclamation options combined with inter-cropping dual purpose sorghum and legume crops (cowpea, peanut, or soybean) through farmer experimentation in different socioeconomic contexts to increase systems productivity
Evaluate the technical and socioeconomic performance of at least two innovations selected in the field of soil and moisture conservation and crop diversification
Evaluate at least two farmer initiatives on AEI crop livestock integration through cereal-legume inter cropping and manure application supported by local innovation funds
Evaluate nutritional improvement based on products from inter-cropping activities with and without supplement supported by local innovation funds
Evaluate the performance of two formal FRNs and one informal FRN for their effectiveness and sustainability in AEI activities
Outputs and Outcomes:
Both cereal and legume crop yields are increased by 10-15% on recovered soils compared to farmers’ practices
Soils organic matter content is increased
The profitability of component systems increased by 10% over farmers’ practices
Crop productivity increased by 15% as the result of integration
Animal productions increased by at least 10% as the result of integration
Nutrition of malnourished children fed with compound cereal and leguminous flours with and without supplement improved by 10% over the control
Governance, gender and diversity, equity, inclusiveness issues, and over all access to resources, are assessed for each farmers’ research network