Farmers are important partners in generating research on soil types, crop varieties, and production strategies in a landscape and research institutions explore different approaches to tapping into this knowledge base and linking their work with observational data from farmers. Farmers in Burundi have a high stake in the viability of seasonal harvests, as they depend on the harvest to provide for and to feed their families. They work the land from year to year, carefully monitoring the results. These farmers hold a mental history of agricultural production in their communities – they know what has been tried before, where, and how well it worked or if it didn’t work.
They also know their environment – what the soil is like, what types of plants grow well within the local context, and what their main challenges are. Additionally, they know where their farm fits into a broader landscape. When theoretical approaches for erosion-control are shared with them, they can add that to their own observations of how their hillsides are faring, and decide how to combine the knowledge to best place a trench, or a row of trees. So how does Burudi achieve this?