The project has created a series of Innovate Platform for sustainable Parkland management enabling farmers and extension services officers to co-create knowledge and information on agroecological practices and improved parkland management.
Context, rationale and significance of the project
Parklands are traditional systems in Burkina Faso where crops and trees are grown together on the same area, also use as pasture on dry season. These systems current management are not sustainable nor productive resulting in a degradation of ecosystems and dropping food production. This, combined with poor access to markets and value chains results in food insecurity, bad health and poor livelihoods for smallholder farmers relying on parkland cultivation.
This project aims at shifting current agricultural parkland practices to agroecological practices restoring ecosystem functions, ensuring sustainable agricultural production and improving smallholder livelihoods. The success of such a shift to agroecological practices requires that extension officers from the three ministries (agriculture, forestry, and livestock) in Burkina Faso engage and collaborate closely with farmers. A trust between the extension services and the farmers is also necessary for a change to agroecological practices. Additionally, policymakers, farmers, traditional leaders and market actors also needs to develop a common understanding on how to move towards agroecological practices and how to develop a conducive framework (legal, agronomic, market) supporting implementation of such practices. Innovation and partnerships with value chain actors to develop new agricultural products and markets for parkland production is also needed to increase small farmers’ revenues and ensure sustainability of agroecological practices. The project is built on the vision that farmers especially youth and women, communities and stakeholders can sustainably manage parklands improving ecosystem functions, diversify food production and improve value chains and market access for Parkland products increasing household incomes.
Change- Creating an Innovate Platform for sustainable Parkland managment
Before the project started, the extension services were dealing separately with different aspects of parkland agricultural activities without knowing exactly what each of them were doing. For example, environmental issues of parkland management were mostly managed by the forest extension service, not communicating with the agricultural extension services. In order to co-create holistic management approaches, the project organised what was called join innovation platforms (IPs) in three municipalities (Nobere, Sapone and Yako), which included all extension services branches, local policymakers (county council and traditional chiefs of each municipality). In these platforms a shared action agenda was created on how to shift towards agroecological practices. The IPs activities consisted of dialogues, trainings, video debates and sensitization through radio broadcast and agroecological days. Farmers implemented practices learned during trainings, and the IPs organized field visits open to all farmers to exchange experiences on how to improve current parkland management practices. The agroecological days where open to all local stakeholders enabling them to share information on how to move from unsustainable to sustainable agricultural practises. The activities of the IPs has resulted in that the participating farmers in the three communes now are able and motivated to shift from current unsustainable agriculture practises towards agroecological agricultural practice. In addition, due to their collaboration in the project IPs, the extension agents from the different ministry extension services branches are now more committed to jointly tackle environmental and problems of the current unsustainable practices, especially the use of mineral fertiliser inputs in .
The project’s role and contribution to the change
To reach this change the project first created a Theory of Change framework which was shared and discussed with all stakeholders involved in parklands management. The project then co-created knowledge and information on agroecological practices and parkland management through IP platforms in the three municipalities, including training with extension services and farmers. These practices were tested and evaluated in the field by farmers with the assistance of the IPs created by the project. The change was also boosted by low availability and high cost of mineral fertilisers because of the war in Ukraine. The lack of and high cost of agricultural inputs create incentives for farmers and decision makers to see agroecological practices as an opportunity to reduce production costs and decrease dependence of fluctuating markets.