Soil Fertility Stewardship Project (PAGRIS)

The Projet d’Appui pour une Gestion Responsable et Intégrée des Sols (PAGRIS) is a four-year project (March 2020 – February 2024) funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Burundi, in which Wageningen Environmental Research is involved together with IFDC-Burundi (Project Lead) and Twitezimbere.

PAGRIS seeks to achieve ecologically sustainable land management in Burundi and will work at three levels: plot, slope, and institutional. PAGRIS aims to reach 100,000 smallholder family farms and establish ecologically sustainable management on 14,000 ha of land by scaling the Integrated Farming Plan (PIP) approach as developed by WENR and partners in the PAPAB project, which ran from 2015 to 2020.

Problem statement

Land degradation and the resulting persistent soil fertility loss of the already poor and acidic Burundian soils are major threats to agricultural productivity. High population density and growth rate put immense pressure on land use. This pressure is even more acute as almost the entire population (93%) is engaged in agriculture as their main occupation, farming on small plots (0.5 ha/family) that already cover 50% of the Burundian land area.

Soil fertility decline causes overexploitation of existing farming areas and increasing use of marginal land for farming in addition to deforestation and biodiversity loss. Lack of adequate soil fertility management on the individual farm level and on the landscape level contribute to the vicious cycle of land degradation and the resulting decline of agricultural productivity, farmer income and food security.


Building on the scientific insights into triggers of change, PAGRIS will effectively utilize local knowledge and capacities through a Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) approach, while undertaking scientific research (by IFDC/ WENR and by PhD level research supervised by Wageningen University and ISABU) to develop and introduce technical and social innovations that ensure sustainability, ownership and uptake of the results. Various dissemination methods and exchanges with complementary programs are included in the project interventions to create broad and lasting impact. Ultimately, reversing land degradation will contribute to a sustainable increase in productivity and income of Burundian farming households and improved food security.

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Levels of intervention

At the plot level, PAGRIS will co-create (using local and scientific knowledge) and implement farm-based strategies for improved yield, incomes, and soil fertility. The targeted beneficiaries are farming households with all household members participating. The focus is on establishing Integrated Plot Plans that optimally manage natural resources and tackle land degradation, restoring as such the ecological balance on the plot.

At the slope level, PAGRIS aims to improve land management of slopes or micro-watersheds through collective community action, based on Participatory Learning and Action. All family farms on a slope will be supported to design a slope management plan to tackle soil erosion, reach stewardship agreements, and implement integrated practices that eventually benefit the whole community.

At the institutional level, PAGRIS will contribute to a favorable institutional environment that improves the availability, access, and utilization of context-specific fertilizer products and techniques. It will do so by building capacity at agricultural knowledge institutes, identifying and assisting in cost-effective organo-mineral fertilizer blends, and supporting the national fertilizer subsidy program.