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Syprobio-Improving farmers income and food security in diversified organic production systems in West-Africa


The social problem of food insecurity as well as the challenges West African farmers are facing to successfully adapt to climate change build the framework and scope of the project “Syprobio”. This five-year lasting project operates in three countries: Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin.

One hundred elected farmers, representing 2 – 3,000 organic farmers, are conducting on-farm research on 27 farmer-identified innovative practices. The conducive research environment is assured by actor-networks of 40 – 50 researchers and technicians, innovation platforms and a systemic communication between the three countries and FiBL researchers. Soil fertility, seed improvement, pest management, agronomy and socio-economics are the main targeted topics.

The innovations to be tested shall improve food security and climate change adaptation. The main research for development methods to be applied are trans- and interdisciplinarity, actor-network theory, focus group discussions, decentralized action-research hubs and sociology-designed communication. On–station research is conducted by the national research partners in order to complement the on-farm research and to provide further evidence on scientific differences between various farming practices (organic simple and diversified, conventional low and high input).

The findings are intended for policy makers, and practitioners. In particular, the causal relation between production form (organic, conventional), soil organic matter content and climate change adaptability will be investigated. A long-term trial in Farako/Mali is designed to provide first answers in 2015 already.

The main concern of the small scale farmers are low soil fertility levels, poor support conditions (veterinary services, credit schemes, access to information) and particular hardships for women farmer. Farmers, researchers and technicians from the farmer organizations learn mutually.

This mutual research is new for all actors and considered as a big success, as the various forms of knowledge (farmer/local; scientific/regional) combined bears fruits after only two years. The creativity, determination and curiosity of the self-organized farmer groups, embedded in a supportive research network and exiting value chains, allow a fast and effective identification of innovations to be tested and implemented.

In the last phase of the project, the dissemination of the positively tested innovations shall benefit at least 100’000 farmers in the West African cotton belt, both under ecological-organic and conventional management. Extensive socio-economic comparison studies between organic, conventional and GMO (Burkina Faso only) farms and households will also be conducted. Results will be published both in scientific journals and in technical magazines for the regional practitionern.

Detailed Description

General objective
Organic production systems that allow farmers to improve their income and food security in a context of climate change are developed and implemented.
Specific objective
Techniques and strategies of diversified, economic and sustainable organic production systems that are adapted to climate change in Western and Central Africa are identified, tested and disseminated.
Expected results

  • The impact of organic farming initiatives on farmers’ income and food security is analysed and deficits related to climate change are identified
  • Techniques and strategies are identified that allow the producers to improve their income and to adapt to climate change
  • Promising and adapted techniques and strategies are tested in a participatory approach on pilot farms and recommendations are defined based on the acquired results
  • Results and recommendations are documented and disseminated to the agricultural research community and the producer organisation in West and Central Africa
  • The participating research institutions and producer organisations (OP) are reinforced and in an autonomic way they develop solutions to influence national and regional policies.

Core hypotheses

  1. Relevant  technologies  for  small-scale  farmers  that  lead to food security and climate change adaptation  for  both  organic  and  conventional  farmers  can  be  invented  and  implemented  by  farmer  associations  designed specifically for that purpose.
  2. Organic matter in the soil (SOM) is required for resilient yields and sustainable farming. Organic farmers have advantages in reaching sufficient SOM levels.
  3. Innovations  invented  and  tested  jointly by farmers and researchers are more likely to  be adopted than those invented and tested only by  farmers or only by researchers.
  4. Adoption of jointly  developed  technological  innovations  will result  in  more robust agricultural and food systems that will improve food security and can contribute to economic integration and nation building.
Financing/ Donor


(Research) Program
  • European Union, EuropeAid
Project partners
  • Association Suisse pour la coopération internationale (Helvetas), SUISSE
  • Institut de l’Environnement et des Recherches Agricoles (INERA), BURKINA FASO
  • Institut d’Economie Rural (IER)/Centre Régional de la Recherche Agricole (CRRA), MALI
  • Institut National de Recherche Agronomique du Benin (INRAB), BENIN
  • Union Nationale des Producteurs de Coton du Burkina Faso (UNPC-B), BURKINA FASO
  • Mouvement Biologique Malien (MOBIOM), MALI
  • Union des Associations Villageoises de Gestion des Réserves de Faune (U-AVIGREF), BENIN
  • FiBL field office in Sikasso
FiBL project leader/ contact
FiBL project staff (people who are not linked are former FiBL employees)
Role of FiBL


Research area
FiBL project number 65082
Date modified 08.02.2021