The PIP approach: fostering resilience-based stewardship

The PIP approach: proud farmers, better soils, more food

The PIP approach works on the foundation of sustainable food production: proud and motivated farmers, who are the stewards of their land. Based on an Integrated Farm Plan, farmer families become empowered to invest in better soils and more resilient farms; as such ensuring their future food production.

Fostering resilience-based stewardship

The PIP approach, the Integrated Farm Planning approach from “Plan Intégré du Paysan” (in French), aims at fostering resilience-based stewardship. Resilience is the ability of the landscape to continue providing its ecosystem services even under shocks and stress; while stewardship is the acceptance by local stakeholders to safeguard land and its natural resources. Both are crucial at the same time, and the PIP approach creates the required solid foundation for achieving resilience-based stewardship: motivated people and healthy land.

Motivated farmers

At the core of the PIP approach lies the Integrated Farm Plan: the PIP, which consists of two drawings that visualize the current farm situation and the family’s desired future situation. It is developed and drawn by all family members together, based on their own aspirations and needs. Creating a PIP triggers discussion and reflection in a family concerning their future, and the central role of the land and its resources. What flows from this is a common vision with a concrete action plan, and a change in mindset (more stewardship!) to invest in a more resilient farm - together. Hence, instead of “farmers by default” (without alternatives) these farmers become proud and motivated “farmers by choice” (land stewards, sustainable entrepreneurs). They will invest in resilient farming without any external incentives: this is real ownership, the flywheel for sustainability!

A PIP drawn by a Burundian family: left the current farm situation, right the desired future farm
A PIP drawn by a Burundian family: left the current farm situation, right the desired future farm

Healthy soils

Farmers who are capable and motivated to care for their land: this is the essence of resilience-based stewardship. The PIP therefore gives specific attention to land management and crop-livestock practices, however non-farm, household and entrepreneurial activities are included as well. Particularly in areas with high pressure on land, sustainable intensification by means of sound soil fertility management and optimal land use planning are paramount in the PIP – including measures such as compost use, green manure, erosion control, crop diversification, sound crop rotations and vegetable gardens.

A field with trenches, grass strips and a mixed cropping system to keep the soil healthy!
A field with trenches, grass strips and a mixed cropping system to keep the soil healthy!

The three PIP principles

Going to scale is essential to tackle land degradation. The PIP approach therefore builds an ever-increasing mass of proud and motivated stewards of healthy land: within two years most of the households in a village have created a PIP, followed by scaling-up to adjacent villages. Next come village visions, agripreneurial activities of organized (young) farmer groups, landscape development plans, etc. All this can be achieved once having a foundation of motivated people and healthy land; with the three “PIP principles” being crucial in the approach:

  1. Empowerment: believe in one’s own ability to change reality, with the intrinsic motivation to undertake action;
  2. Integration: be aware of the importance of farm resilience and include integrated activities in a plan;
  3. Collaboration: to exchange knowledge and learn from others to improve, and carry out actions together.
A proud motivated farmer showing his recent investment: a young improved banana tree
A proud motivated farmer showing his recent investment: a young improved banana tree

PIP in practice

Action starts with a group of 20 Innovative Farmers in each village: they are the first to create a PIP, change their mindset to more stewardship, and become farmer-to-farmer trainer. However, the real power of PIP lies in its potential to change mind-sets village-wide: collaboration is a major stimulus. This is done in PIP competitions, in which organized farmer groups - under the lead of PIP trainers - learn how to create a PIP. This is learning-by-doing, with farmer-trainers who transfer passion, a vision and intrinsic motivation, which further strengthens social cohesion in a village. Crucial here is the active involvement of extension services and governmental institutions. This is achieved by means of trainings, exchange visits and gradually handing-over responsibility to these permanent structures for the further upscaling of PIP. As such PIP has the potential to change entire landscapes: from farmer-to-farmer, from village-to-village!

A women group working on their onion field: women have a crucial role in the PIP approach
A women group working on their onion field: women have a crucial role in the PIP approach

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