Supporting Agricultural Productivity in Burundi (PAPAB)

The PAPAB project aims to sustainably increase food production in Burundi by promoting market-oriented, climate-resilient and sustainable agricultural techniques, supported by targeted fertilizer subsidies. The project uses the PIP approach as its core strategy, which is centred on integrated crop/soil/farm management and cooperation between stakeholders at all levels.

Problem definition

Burundi, located in the Great Lakes Region, is one of the poorest and economically least developed countries in Africa. Burundi is also highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, because in the small and often poorly managed farmlands, extreme weather quickly leads to lower crop production and higher food prices. Extreme rainfall events on the predominantly hilly landscape cause severe erosion, washing away fertile topsoil. Approximately 1.2 million households farm on small plots (on average 0.5 ha per household) and mostly for subsistence, due to lack of alternatives. They produce little for the market, and yields are often not enough to meet their own needs. Malnutrition in Burundi is one of the highest in the world. The result is a vicious circle: high population growth reduces the size of the farm, there is no money for investments in improved seeds and fertilizer, and so production declines even faster. The biggest challenge is therefore the sustainability of the agricultural sector.


Research in Burundi shows that well-integrated farming methods are crucial to improve yields. Crucial here is that farmers - and especially women farmers - are encouraged to invest through mutual cooperation and knowledge-sharing in sustainable land management and better crop management. For this, it is first necessary to improve the (wise) use of fertilizer, improved seeds, (market) information and micro-financing, and support the formation of cooperatives. With the PIP approach this begins at farm and village level, but can be quickly scaled up with a strong focus on collaboration and farmer-to-farmer knowledge transfer. Farmers learn from each other and from experts, and as such can produce more food, not only for their own needs but also for local and regional markets. Increased production will automatically increase employment opportunities in agriculture.


PAPAB is operational from November 2015 to May 2019 and has two pillars: a) the reform of the fertilizer subsidy system, greatly improving farmers’ access to fertilizer and their knowledge of improved farming methods; and b) the PIP approach to increase farmers’ motivation, so that each family on the basis of a shared vision can create their own integrated business plan for a sustainable future. PAPAB operates in 14 communes in six provinces, working with 80,000 farmers on sustainable agriculture. The project consortium includes four partners: IFDC (main contractor), Wageningen Environmental Research, Oxfam Novib and ZOA; as well as several local organizations such as Adisco, OAP and Réseau 2000+.

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