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Final part of the field report from Burundi

Picture: AgrarKontakte International (AKI) e.V.

After 3 weeks in Burundi, the first on-site mission is coming to an end. A lot of new knowledge has been gathered, which AKI will now bring into the project concept piece by piece. In addition, much has been implemented on the project site and the local project team has been sensitized to the project idea with permaculture as an essential element.

An crucial task remains, the supervision of AKI and external experts to provide the young and motivated local team with the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities in permaculture and, in the sense of an economically self-sustaining value producing concept, in agribusiness management incl. value adding technics and skills. A further, future project goal should therefore be the production of simple and profitable as well as in the population accepted but at the same time novel foodstuff from the produced agricultural products. For this purpose, we are currently in the process of gathering more knowledge about the local situation and conditions in order to set up production and supply chains - conceivable options include bread and cheese as well as preserved fruits and vegetables.

The project approach with permaculture and food processing offers great potential for the region and thus for further cooperation.

As the approaches of permaculture meet great local interest, the project area is about to more than double in the future and the local project team still needs support in setting up a self-sustaining organizational structure, so AKI will continue to support setting up a sustainable project framework.

And how do the local project team perceive the novel farming method?

One aspect quickly became clear to us: Permaculture with its holistic approach (philosophy, ethical principles, practical design elements) was - and is beyond our stay - a great enrichment for the people and environment in Burundi. One of the main challanges, Erosion, can not only be stopped, but the soil can also be regenerated gradually with the help of a modulated terrestrial surface and an increasing biodiversity. The new perspective was eye-opening for many participants and encouraged them to look to the future as confident farmers.

We are enthusiastic about the motivated stakeholders and the great potentials the country offers, and thank you for the great participation and the warm hospitality!

Finally, a few words from the local project team:

Charlotte – Member of a sisterhood dedicated to the care of the poor and the sick

 “The theory taught me how to think first before acting on the land and the practice was really great to understand how to take contour lines and deal with erosion and create more diversity and a better soil.”

Adrien – Agricultural technician at a local high school

The course included two different teachings: 1. The theory showed me how the concept of permaculture is drastically different and everything we know here in Burundi as well as the tools we use and the way we plant is destroying the soil. 2. The practical training, we learnt a lot of new technics against erosion, creating diversity and increasing the life in the soil. I will be practicing it on my land and spreading these technics to my friends and colleagues.”

Marc – Agroecologist from Bujumbura with experience in permaculture and international cooperation

This course and especially what happened on the land was like a positive bomb in my head: So many changes, so many new things!

Abundant by Nature
Extensive earthworks to regulate the water were planned and implemented. The ditches with overflow for heavy rain events is directing the water into ponds to collect remaining water for the dry season
Abundant by Nature
Erosion ditches were already known in the region. However, the known types were only useful for steeper slopes and had to be renewed regularly
Abundant by Nature
Before the water steps over the ditch mounds during heavy rain events, it flows a few feet over grassed lawns (shown here in the center and not yet planted) and into another ditch connected to a small pond. Once filled up, the water is directed into another, larger pond. The collected water can be used for irrigation in dry seasons and for fish production.
AgrarKontakte International (AKI) e.V.
The wet areas near the moats are specifically used to produce moisture-loving crops, such as bananas planted in symbiotic combination with other plants in so-called guilds
AgrarKontakte International (AKI) e.V.
Due to the considerable scope of the training, the participants were rewarded with a certificate given by AKI as well as the external experts Ludovic Bourdon (permaculture trainer) and Markus Rosskopf (consulting project manager)