Fanning the spark: Increasing Food Production through Integrated Farm Planning in Burundi

Fanning the Spark, or 'project SCAD', was a collaborative project in Burundi which was implemented from 2013 till 2016 by Achmea Foundation, Wageningen Environmental Research and HealthNet TPO, in partnership with Réseau Burundi 2000+. The project operated in three Provinces in Burundi and developed and employed the PIP approach (Integrated Farm Planning approach) to improve the food, financial and social security of the local population. Wageningen Environmental Research provided the expertise in agriculture and soil and water management issues, and after closure of the project the PIP approach was further developed in the project PAPAB and currently in PAGRIS.

Strategy and PIP

Extreme poverty in Burundi’s rural area and tensions between families with limited access to arable land hinder development towards a more stable and peaceful society. Due to these tensions and a rapid population growth, agricultural land is subject to increased degradation and low agricultural productivity. The objective of Fanning the Spark was to increase food production at village level, by means of health promotion, more investments/micro credits in crop production and a family (income) insurance package that protects rural families against the financial consequences of catastrophic events (natural and health).

To achieve the project objectives, an integrated strategy was developed by the consortium members, with the PIP approach being central to the strategy. The three pillars of the project (Agri-MiFi-Health) were closely connected: food security demands for a more sustainable agricultural production, which on its turn demands a healthy (labour) population with access to financial facilities and health care services. Furthermore, the foundation of development is a well-organized and strong community, where collaboration is crucial in order to develop the agricultural sector, obtain loans and credits, and for making micro-insurance (for health and agriculture) financially accessible.

Results and follow-up

In the 'agri-pillar', Wageningen Environmental Research has developed, implemented and validated the PIP approach to increase agricultural production, foster land stewardship, and build a foundation for sustainable change. This approach was new in Burundi, and has resulted in remarkable success. With the PIP approach more than 12,000 smallholder farmer families got involved in PIP creation and currently apply better land management practices, tackle land degradation together, and invest in more sustainable agriculture. Two PhD theses were conducted within the framework of this project, connected research on how to foster sustainable agriculture from the bottom-up – with local farmers and based on ownership – continued under the follow-up projects PAPAB and PAGRIS.

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