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Avoiding chemical fertilizers is possible.

Excerpts from an interview with Prosper Nyonsaba, head of food security at FH Burundi, our partner organization in Burundi.
How far has Burundi come in implementing agroecology?
 
Substituting chemical fertilizers is possible, but it has to be done in stages, as habits cannot be changed too quickly. Our approach at FH Burundi is based on awareness-raising, teaching and demonstration. Farmers gradually adopt certain new practices. As the cost of chemical inputs is high, they realize that applying agroecological methods is less expensive. They also discover that these methods are sustainable. For example, if you use compost three years in a row, it builds up and we can see that this practice restores the ecosystem. We're now at the transitional stage. Farmers are combining agroecological and conventional methods.
 
Isn't agroecology a foreign concept?
 
Agroecology isn't something that's been imported, it's more like a renaissance. Our ancestors practiced agro-ecology perfectly: they knew which plants to use to heal themselves, and composting was also a matter of course. Then came conventional agriculture, with its chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Today, we're faced with a generation that has become accustomed to farming in this way.
To encourage change, we don't train farmers in the traditional way. We work mainly with demonstration fields. We work with farmers who have a low level of education, so our method is "learning by doing". We teach techniques to "model farmers". These farmers in turn become trainers who pass on their knowledge to other farmers. When you're convinced, it's easy to pass on to your peers. There's a kind of emulation, and that's how knowledge is passed on. It's easier when it's passed on by a peer than by an outsider who considers himself an expert. So today, we can say that we're restoring what already existed!

Prosper took part in our round table about "The challenges of agroecology in North and South". during World Food Day, on october 16 octobre in Geneva.
Watch all our guests' speeches on our YouTube channel: FH Suisse - Food for the Hungry

Watch the documentary "Une terre a nouveau fertile 
 

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