If all the food produced locally in a year were gathered and distributed, there would only be enough to feed Burundians for 55 days. A stark statistic that shows just how critical it is to improve agricultural production and reduce post-harvest losses in this small, densely populated country that has one of the fastest growing populations in Africa.
More than 50 percent of the population is chronically food insecure, and a quarter of the population (2.6 million people) is severely food insecure, putting Burundi on the same level of food security crisis with Somalia — but in a situation not brought about by conflict.
WFP and partners are supporting government efforts to build resilience in local communities. Currently, WFP supports over 20,000 smallholder farmers to increase production, reduce post-harvest losses, access new markets, and increase their incomes.
In addition to offering a lifeline to project participants, WFP support contributes to address the root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition in Burundi by stimulating local food production and boosting the local economy.
Thanks to financial support from the European Union, Monaco and Netherlands, WFP is transforming lives in rural communities in Burundi.
Jacqueline Nzeyimana is a mother of seven. She lives in Mpanda commune, 20 km northwest of Bujumbura. Like many women in Burundi, Jacqueline grows cassava, beans and maize to support her family. But reduced land area for cultivation, poor quality seeds and climate variances meant that what she grew was hardly enough to meet the family needs throughout the year.
In 2013, the young mother joined the Twizigirane farmers’ cooperative when WFP introduced its P4P programme. Benefiting from training on marketing and post-harvest management, Jacqueline has been able to increase her crop production and get a better price for the surplus crops she sells. This lets her pay school fees for her children and provide regular, diversified meals for her family members.
“I am happy with this project which has allowed me to not only look after my family but I also now own a cellular phone,” she says with a smile. “What I want now is to buy and drive my own car.”
Chantal Manirambona is a mother of four. Not having completed primary school, Chantal could neither read nor write. But thanks to the literacy training offered by WFP as part of its smallholder agricultural project in Mpanda, Chantal is now literate. She can also use a cellular phone to write and send text messages to her friends, relatives and other members of the cooperative. She was elected vice-president of her farmer cooperative.
“With my position in the cooperative, I gained respect from my husband and my point of view is now considered within my community,” says Chantal.
Her dream is to further develop agriculture using new technology.
Increasing food security, improving lives
“It is very stimulating to see that WFP programmes are helping women to stand on their own feet. This is exactly what we want. We want you to be independent. We want you to achieve sustainability,” said WFP Regional Director for East and Central Africa Erika Joergensen during her recent visit to smallholder farmers in Burundi.
Decreasing food waste by reducing the post-harvest losses of smallholder farmers is a vital step towards meeting the world’s growing food needs, and is one of the pillars of the Zero Hunger Challenge.
This also plays an important role in P4P’s objective to improve the lives of smallholder farmers. By making food more affordable and consistently available for poor households, overall food security is increasing.
“Empowering women who bear the primary responsibility for feeding their families is key to achieving #Zero Hunger,” Erika added.