Farmer-led agroecological intensification in Burkina Faso

Lead Organization:

Groundswell International

Partner Organizations:

West Africa CoP

Community of Practice:

West Africa

Countries:

Mali

Duration:

2/2013—2/2016

Overview:

Insufficient processes presently exist in the West African Sahel to promote farmer learning, adaptation and final adoption of agroecological Intensification (AEI) practices. Isolated technologies cannot lead to sustainable farming systems. What is required is an action-research process that emphasizes a progressive transition to adopting innovations that make agricultural systems more intensive and sustainable. Furthermore, transitions from current farming tech­niques toward those which are more sustainable and productive can only take place where there is buy-in and sufficient leadership by farmers and community organizations, whose technical and organizational capacities need to be strengthened. The present project aims to strengthen farmer-led agroecological approaches in Burkina Faso.  The project is undertaken by a consortium composed of Groundswell International, the NGO ANSD (Association Nourrir Sans Détruire) at Fada N’gourma, the farmer organization AMSP at Kaya, and INERA (National Agricultural Research Institute of Burkina Faso), and covers the rural communes of Bilanga-yanga, Gayéri, Andemtenga and Pissila within the buffer areas, Zone I and Zone II of Burkina Faso.

Grant Aims:

The present project aims to improve and spread an agroecological approach that enables small scale farm households to transition to a productive, sustainable and resilient sorghum and millet farming system, and achieve food security. The project will support communities to test, adapt and spread these strategies for AEI, combining local knowledge and capacity with the expertise and experience of researchers. The two major intervention domains will be integrated soil fertility management and improved management of agroforestry landscapes. Specific objectives of the project include:Determine the optimal combinations of agroecological technologies, and appropriate sequen­ces for their adoption, for different categories of households.Assess the criteria used by small scale farmers (women and men) for selecting and adopting agro-ecological technologies.Strengthen the technical and organisational capacities of community-based farmer organi­za­tions and other actors at pilot sites to develop and spread agroecological farming systems.Determine and assess participatory strategies to rapidly spread and take to scale an approach for agro-ecological intensification.

Outputs and Outcomes:

A high percentage of farmer organization members who are illiterate was found during the survey on the organizational capacity of community based groups. This is the case even among the leaders (board members). None of the farmer organizations’ boards had more than 50% literacy among their members, with 30% as the average level of literacy. Literacy allows leaders of organizations to better master the technologies and organization management tools (recording, reporting, etc.). The high level of illiteracy also impeded the quality of the organizational capacity assessments because decision making and group activities were often not documented, causing us to rely for data on the interviews with farmer members. Many were not able to recall in detail all of the activities carried out by their group. The low level of literacy among the leaders is a limiting factor to effective operations and potential scaling. In general, farmer participants in the review session have indicated their preferences, demonstrating an emerging pattern of their choices. It appears clearly that the zaï method, which serves as a way to better channel water as well as nutrients to crops, and contributes to immediate results after one year, seems to be one of the preferred introductory technologies, together with improved organic manure production and use. The improved seeds, rotation and inter-cropping, together with improved fertilization techniques are also in line with this trend. The results of half-moon technology were appreciated by the farmers, yet due to the heavy labor associated with their implementation their adoption at large scale is likely to be very limited. Support visits helped identify areas of improvement in applying the technical aspects of the technologies and provided individual farmers with advice.