First steps in Burundi with the GAP4A program

Waterwatch visited the country of Burundi this week to lay the foundation for the Good Agricultural Practices for All (GAP4A) project, along with AUXFIN, Réseau Burundi 2000+, Weather Impact and Nextview.

In Burundi there is a need for useful, accurate and real-time agricultural information in relation to the weather, variety selection, soil fertility management, integrated pest and disease management and mitigation of climate risks. GAP4A aims to address these pressing needs by delivering information services to smallholder farmers.

The first reason of visit concerns the alignment of all involved agricultural parties. During our visit we met with public institutions, the Dutch embassy, and NGOs to discuss the aims of the project. One of the program’s participants that we met this Tuesday is the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), specialising in informing about- and providing fertilizers to farmers from all over the world. It became clear that the project can play a significant role to IFDC’s practices in providing useful, accurate, and real-time information on the use of fertilizers, for instance in the potato-industry. Burundi’s climate is equatorial with two wet- and dry seasons. Its soil is predominantly poor due the lack of nutrients and the outdated agricultural practices, reaching up to only a 20% of the initial production. A lot can be gained when the program is put into operation.

Secondly, the program can only be implemented when the (smallholder) farmers are included. Farmers in the three Burundian provinces of Gitega, Kayanza and Karusi have been visited to gain insights on their situation. It is important to exactly understand their needs since Burundi has a mountainous landscape with a financially poor community. It makes for instance no sense to advice farmers to use pesticides when they are not able to afford this in the first place. The knowledge contributes to the overall development and design of the AgriCoach App, knowing what crop to grow (Crop Selector), when to plant (Activity Timer), and how to plant for optimal results (Best Practices Database). This shall make the technological application accessible and usable to every Burundian farmer.

The AgriCoach App is part of the GAP4A program. It was selected by the Netherlands Space Office last March for funding within the third call of the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) Facility. This facility is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is aimed at improving food security and economic development in 26 partner countries by using satellite data and geo-information.

You can read more about the program on the following article, here.