Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM)

Farmer Field Schools building resource-efficient, climate-smart agriculture in Burundi

KEY IMPACTS

An integrated approach to sustainable intensification of agriculture through efficient use of resources - Strategic support to Country Programming Framework:

  • Integrated initiatives were developed in Burundi to improve livelihoods of people  with limited land access and to improve nutrition of school children and local community capacities to intensify and diversify production systems and manage resources sustainably were strengthened.
  • 37 farming families in Lao DPR participated in an assessment of rice-fish farming strategies.
  • 100 farming families in 5 provinces tested extension strategies for the wide-scale promotion of integrated rice-fish culture.
  • Technical capacity of extension agentsincreased in Myanmar to support farmers in adopting practices of rice-fish farming.

For agriculture to thrive when climate change is worsening the challenges farmers face – land degradation, competition for resources and water scarcity among them – education and training on how to sustainably intensify agriculture is essential.

Farmer Field Schools are a great way to reach farmers directly and improve their ability to adapt to climate change and increase production, as shown under an FAO project to ensure more efficient use of resources.

In Burundi’s Mwaro province, the project supported 30 schools, with the participants quick to take up the practices introduced.

Four schools used maize as a cornerstone of their interventions. With its high concentration of starch and proteins, maize is widespread in traditional Burundian recipes. Not only that, maize byproducts can serve many other purposes.

In February 2015, trained farmers planted three hectares of an improved hybrid maize at Nyamitore. The project selected the hybrid cultivar for its short growing cycle of about 90 days, its adaptation to climates of average altitude, its ability to resist diseases, its high production and strong rods that resist winds – all of which make it a hardy crop to grow in a variable climate.

The farmers harvested nine tonnes of maize: a three-fold increase over the local Isega variety mainly grown in the region, which only produces 1 tonne per hectare.

The Vyizigiro and Twiyunge schools also collected corncobs for use in value-added products, cutting them into small pieces and using them as substrate to produce oyster mushrooms.

“The yield is very interesting, though slightly lower than the one from cotton, whose substrate is the most widely used for mushroom cultivation in Burundi”, said Isaiah Ndayirukiye of the Vyizigiro school.

The school members say that the mushroom products are delicious, nutritious and generate regular income – all from the waste of the maize plants.

In fact, farmers use every part of the maize plant. The hardier stalks become stakes for climbing bean plants, which have contributed to the protection of the environment. Previously, stakes came from young eucalyptus trees. This contributed to deforestation, increased erosion and lower soil fertility.

After harvest, farmers mix climbing beans, stems, leaves and husks of corn with stalks, bean pods and other leaves to produce organic manure. With this technique of farming, everything is recycled – one of the core principles of sustainable development.

“The FFS approach has proven to be an innovative technique guaranteeing ecological and socio-economic development in our locality”, said Niyombanye Gloriose, Chair of the Biraturaba school.

According to Gloriose, the schools also helped communities learn about the negative effects of land degradation and climate change on agricultural production. Members are now aware of the importance of soil conservation and action against erosion and that they can take action to adapt to climate change.

Vegetable farming also increased household income, thanks to the commercialization of harvests. Selling crops for profit instead of subsistence can increase production on small areas of land in a short time.

These practices introduced through the schools have also started to spread to neighboring communities, showing how relatively small interventions can bring positive change across wider regions.