Burundi – Improved Livelihoods for Burundi’s Rural Youth

Below please find a brief feature story prepared by our Program Assistant Christine Bohne,  on the establishment of the Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) approach within our Haguruka Youth project.

Thanks to all of our partners supporting this project and for making it a reality.

Improved Livelihoods for Burundi’s Rural Youth

LWF Burundi recently established Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) as part of the Haguruka Youth Empowerment Project, a program that consists of activities that empower and enable young people to understand and claim their rights, improve their practice of sustainable agriculture, and reduce their dependence on agriculture through the creation of opportunities in other fields.

The primary objective of JFFLS is to encourage innovation and experimentation by groups of rural farmers in the hope that they will discover which agricultural practices are most productive and most sustainable.

Youth in Muvumu attend to their JFFLS test plot © LWF Burundi

This test plot in Muvumu, a village in eastern Burundi, was donated by the provincial government to LWF’s JFFLS project. Thirty youth conduct a wide range of comparison experiments here during their weekly meetings. They are currently on their first round of experimentation, which involves empirically determining the comparative yields of different crop varieties and the effects of different types of fertilizer.

The JFFLS approach is particularly suited to Burundi.  Because conflict was so recent, suspicions and resentments persist in a lot of communities.  Additionally, because of overpopulation, many young people are facing the prospect of trying to establish livelihoods with limited access to land.  The agricultural component of JFFLS provides young Burundians with the skills they need to get more out of their land while also protecting it and ensuring the longevity of agricultural enterprises.  The life skills component of JFFLS helps youth to adopt a cooperative and progressive approach to life and their livelihoods by supplementing the agricultural trainings with sessions covering a wide variety of topics such as family planning and business.

The bean plants on the left were fertilized with manure. The plants on the right were grown in the traditional manner without any fertilizer. © LWF Burundi

The reception of JFFLS has been positive. Lydia, Annonciate, and Dadas are eager to implement the farming activities they learned on the JFFLS test plot on their fields at home. “I’ve learned how to farm on line and use manure. Before, my family never used fertilizer, now I know how important it is. We only have enough manure at home for part of our plot though because we only have one goat, but there I see a difference already”, said Lydia.

In addition to learning new agriculture techniques to improve their livelihoods, the youth in the Haguruka project receive trainings on business and entrepreneurship. Dadas explained that he learned about ways to increase his profit from selling crops at the local market. “You have to look at the local conditions and see what is available where. I now sell peanuts and avocados where they are not as abundant, so I make more than when I sold them at the market by my house”.

Dadas, Annonciate, Lydia, and LWF colline facilitator Pierre on their JFFLS plot in Muvumu. © LWF Burundi

The youths all stated that the biggest obstacles they face in improving their livelihoods is lack of land and insufficient start-up money. However, with the new skills they’ve picked up and will continue to learn over the next three years in Haguruka, they are all confident they will reach their goals: all three youths are working hard to improve their livelihoods so they can buy livestock for their families.

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