Farmer Virginie Ntumigomba with her cow in the stable - Mwimbiro_Makamb


The livestock challenge in Burundi

The agriculture and livestock sector in Burundi plays a crucial role in the country’s economy, providing 39.6% to GDP and 95% of food supply according to the country’s National Development Plan 2018-2027. Livestock accounts for 14% of national GDP and 29% of agricultural GDP according to (Livestock strategy document, 2010). The main livestock species are goats (39%), poultry (32%), cattle (10%), pigs (8%), rabbits (6%) and sheep (5%) (FAO 2021). Furthermore, the government has put in place policies and programs to promote the sector, such as the national livestock strategy, which aims to increase productivity, promote private sector investment and capacity building of public and private institutions.

However, the sector faces significant challenges, including poor animal husbandry practices, limited access to veterinary services and inadequate infrastructures for production, processing, and marketing. Additionally, the country has seen political instability and conflict over the years, which has negatively impacted the development of the sector.

Despite these challenges, there is significant potential for growth in the livestock sector in Burundi. There are opportunities for research and development in areas such as animal health, genetics, feeding, climate change adaptation, and value chain development. 

Current initiatives and projects 

  • World Bank: Regional integrated agricultural development project in the great lakes (PRDAIGL)
  •  WFP: Feasibility study decentralised milk procurement system
  •  USAID: Accelerated Innovation Delivery Initiative in Great Lakes Region (AID-I GLR)
  •  AfDB: Transition Support Fund (TSF)


How ILRI is addressing these challenges

ILRI has been involved in several research and development projects in Burundi for many years aiming to improve livestock productivity, health, nutrition, etc. ILRI key intervention areas in Burundi include: 

  • The development of the livestock feed supplementation strategies using locally available resources, such as sweet potatoes and cassava leaves/peels 
  • Introduction of smart-climate and nutrient-dense forages varieties and promoting conservation methods 
  • Supporting  improved small-scale dairy farming through adoption of best animal husbandry practices and genetic improvement programs 
  • Implementation of disease control program to address major livestock diseases, such as East coast fever and Rift Valley Fever (RVF).
  • Capacity building of local extension staff and farmers through short term training programs in animal health and production
  • Promoting farmers' access to lucrative markets based on the ‘sustainable dairy business hub model’ developed by ILRI

Overall, ILRI’s effort in Burundi aims to support sustainable livestock development, poverty reduction and food security in the country.

ILRI's research priorities in Burundi

ILRI's research priorities align with and support Burundi's development goals in several ways:

Burundi's agricultural sector is dominated by small-scale farmers (more than 80% of the population) who depend on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood. The livestock sector is one of the pillars for improved food security in Burundi and was prioritised in the National Strategic Plan 2018-2027 & Burundi Vision 2040-2060. Some of the challenges identified are frequent disease outbreaks (RVF, PPR, ASF) with devastating effects on the livelihoods of rural farmers.  Moreover, most farmers still practise extensive production system with low genetic performances of animal breeds reared, coupled with limited access to well-balanced diets which are leading to low meat and milk production.

ILRI's research and existing proven livestock technologies on animal genetics, animal and human health and feed and forage development are helping to accelerate agricultural development in Burundi, enhance resilience of small-scale farmers through increased livestock productivity and improved access to more profitable markets.  


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