burkinafasoBurkina Faso (formally Upper Volta) declared independence from France on August 5, 1960. Repeated military coups during the 1970s and 1980s were followed by multiparty elections in the early 1990s during which the current president Blaise Compaore was elected (CIA, 2012).  The country is located in West Africa and bordered on the North and West by Mali, on the East by Niger and on the south by Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin. Burkina Faso is a poor, landlocked country that relies heavily on cotton and gold exports for revenue. With a land area of 274, 200 km2, the population of Burkina Faso is estimated at 16.7 million people in 2012.


About 90% of the population live in rural area and is engaged in subsistence agriculture on small family plots or land. Maize, sorghum and millet make up 85-90 percent of the staple diet in Burkina Faso, and cotton is the main cash crop. Agriculture accounts for 34.1 percent of the GDP, and the economy has heavily relied on Gold that has become the main source of revenue since 2010 (CIA, 2012). Burkina Faso's high population density and limited natural resources result in poor economic prospects for the majority of its citizens.  In addition, the poverty of the soil and erratic rainfall constrain households in many parts of the country to earn part of their living off the farm. Migration has been one of the solutions to these problems since the colonial era. 

Statistical Indicators                                                                                               

Burkina Faso                                                                                                             Year

Agricultural land (sq km)



Agricultural land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares)



Arable land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares per person)



Fertilizer consumption (per ha of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)



Food production index (1999-2001 = 100)



Food exports (% of merchandise exports)



Food imports (% of merchandise imports)



GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)*



Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)



Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)



Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)



Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)









Internet users (per 100 people)









Population, total



Population density (people per sq. km of land area)



Rural population



Rural population (% of total population)



Agricultural population* 



Agricultural population (% of total population)*



Total economically active population in Agriculture*



Total economically active population in Agriculture (in % of total economically active population)*



Female economically active population in Agriculture (% of total active in agriculture)*



Source: The World Bank, *Food and Agriculture Organization FAO


A Brief History of Agricultural Extension Services in Burkina Faso and the Enabling Environment

Prior to 1960 when Burkina Faso gained independence from France, agricultural extension programs implemented by French research institutions was mainly concerned with introduction of innovative technologies for the promotion of cash crops for exports. The next four decades were characterized by the creation of national institutions and development programs to promote agricultural research and extension and the implementation of many agricultural policies initiated by the government with support from various stakeholders, foreign donors and agencies. Several extension models and styles have been tried including: the classical and linear approach to diffusion of technology (transfer of existing technology from government institutions to rural farmers); the commodity–based model focusing on specific crops or enterprises like cotton or dairy; and the training and visit (T&V) highly centralized model introduced by the World Bank (Toe & Pouahoukiga, 2009). Since the establishment of the Projet National de Developpement des Services Agricoles (PNDSA II) in 2000, the T&V approach has been abandoned and the emerging pluralist agricultural extension system is been embraced. Agricultural extension services are provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources in collaboration with NGOs, other public and private institutions in the country. Sasakawa Global 2000, an independent foundation has also been very active in supplying extension services to farmers in Burkina Faso.

Extension Providers

Major Institutions Providing Extension/advisory Services in Burkina Faso

Public Sector

In Burkina Faso, the public sector responsible for extension and advisory services in the areas of agriculture, livestock and natural resources is represented by four Ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Fishery Resources, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Ministère des Ressources Animales, and the Ministère de l'Environnement et du Cadre de Vie. These ministries use a decentralized system of government with offices at various administrative units to deliver extension services to farmers and producer groups. They provide extension services through various departments and institutes some of which are listed below:

Government or Ministry Based Extension Service

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Fishery Resources (MAHRH)
    • Regional Directorate for Agriculture, Water and Fisheries
    • Systeme National de Vulgarisation et d’Appui Conseil Agricole (SNVACA)
  • Ministère des Ressources Animales (MRA)
    • Laboratoire National d’Elevage (LNE)
    • Systeme National de Vulgarisation Agricole (SNVA)
  • Ministère de l'Environnement et du Cadre de Vie (MECV)
    • Direction Generale Amelioration Cadre de Vie
  • Ministry of Secondary and Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESSRS)
    • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CNRST)

Public Research Institutions with Extension Unit

  • Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA
  • Centre International de Recherche-Développement sur l’Elevage en Zone Subhumide (CIRDES)
  • Agency for the Promotion of Small and Medium-sized Agricultural Enterprises and Handicrafts (APME)
  • Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension (SAFE)
  • Agricultural Research and Development Investments and Capacity ASTI in Burkina Faso: 

University Based Extension Services

  • Université Polytechnique de Bobo-Dioulasso (UPBD)
  • Institut de Développement Rural (IDR)

Non-Public Sector

Non-Governmental Organisations

In Burkina Faso, there are several types of NGOs including local, national, regional and international NGOs and the international ones are from more than 20 countries, in particular from Western Europe, the United States and Canada. Many of these international NGOs have a religious background or are financed by religious groups. Even though these organizations have been operational in Burkina Faso since the sixties, their number has grown rapidly over the last decade (Eponou, 1996). To improve efficiency in addressing farmers’ needs, NGOs in Burkina Faso have tried to coordinate their efforts, and reinforce their bargaining power vis à vis the public institutions by establishing coordinating bodies, such as the Sécretariat Permanent des Organizations Non-Gouvernementales (BSONG). In response to this initiative, the government has also set up special bodies or units to deal with NGO matters. The purpose of these units is to facilitate the implementation and the operations of these organizations. As a result, NGOs have become more efficient in providing educational and other services to small and marginal farm households. For example, NGOs in Burkina Faso have provided funding and technical assistance to small farmers in the areas of marketing, soil conservation, and reforestation as well as in gardening and crafts (Amanor & Farrington, 1991). However, NGOs intervention in rural areas is mainly through implementation of development projects. Several of them are equipped with trained agricultural extension staffs who are involved in extension advisory services delivery to farmers. Below is a list of some of the NGOs in Burkina Faso:  

  • Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE)
  • Institut Africain pour le Developpement Economique et Social (INADES), Centre Africain de Formation, Bureau National du Burkina Faso
  • Long Live the Farmer Association (AVLP) promotes "assisted natural regeneration"
  • Delwende Development Association, another NGO, helps villagers set up tree nurseries and trains farmers to teach agro-forestry techniques to other farmers
  • Catholic Relief Service (CRS)

Farmer Based Organizations and Cooperatives

Several types of farmers’ organizations/groups exist in Burkina Faso. Whether induced by local or external initiatives, most of these groups are important actors in the development process of their local communities and the country as a whole. Producer organizations are cited as   making a crucial contribution to the provision and enhancement of extension services. Four major organization groups are found in Burkina Faso: the traditional associations/groups with origin in the local traditions and value systems are found everywhere in the country under different names; the multipurpose associations/groups found in almost all villages and internally or externally initiated are geared toward improving the well-being of farmers; the agricultural cooperatives, the most advanced form of farmers’ organizations provide credit, production and marketing services to their members; and the farmers’ unions. The prominent farmers union with a national coverage is the Federation des Unions des Groupements (FUGN) also known as “Naam” that comprises over 300,000 farmers in more than 1,200 villages. The Federation is the largest farmers’ organization in Burkina Faso, totally independent of the government (Eponou, 1996). The Ministry of Agriculture through its extension services units have helped to form these farmers associations and provide assistance to these associations on both managerial and technical matters. Below is a list of some of the associations, unions and federations of farmers and farmers groups in Burkina Faso:      

  • Association national d’Action Rurale (ANAR)
  • Association Nationale des Productuers de Haricot Vert (ANPHV), Green Beans Producers
  • Association Muny des Femmes de la Comoe
  • Cooperative Agricole du Passore
  • Uninon Nationale des Producteurs de Cotton du Burkina (UNPCB), Cotton Producers
  • Union Nationale des Productuers Semencierss du Burkina (UNPsB) Seeds Producers Union Nationale des Producteurs des Fruits et Legumes (UNFPF) Fruits and Vegetables Producers Union
  • Federation Nationale des Groupements Naam (FNGN)
  • Federation des Eleveurs du Burkina (FEB), Livestock Producers
  • Federation Nationale des Femmes Rurale du Burkina (FENAFErB) Rural Women Federation

Private Sector Companies

The private sector has the greatest potential for driving economic growth and development including support to markets access, linkages to business development service providers and access to credit and financial services. By providing services in the upstream and downstream stages of production, private sector actors play a key role in facilitating producers’ access to production factors and other resources needed to apply agricultural innovations (SWAC, 2005). In Burkina Faso, the private sector comprises agro-dealers, input supply companies and banks that work closely with both small scale farmers and large crop and livestock producers. Also, NGOs like CNFA work through networks of private companies especially input suppliers to ensure high-quality seeds are available for smallholder farmers, which will dramatically increase their yields, and improve household food security. Private Banks such as Ecobank are also financing the agricultural sector, mainly in the cotton industry. The provision of agricultural services in the new “demand-driven service provision” approach based on contracting, and mechanisms designed to ensure service providers are acting in response to producer demand, seems to favor private service providers. In support of the new trend, a pilot demand-led advisory-support project, based on contracting services, was tried out in 2002-2003 within the framework of Phase II of the National Agricultural Services Development Project (PNDSA II) of the Ministry of Agriculture. The outcome of the project pointed to the fact that the development of a dynamic private sector could contribute significantly to the implementation of the new demand-driven pluralistic agricultural extension and advisory service. However, private services located at all stages of production tend to develop only around areas of attraction where opportunities exist as it is the case with the cotton subsector and the fruit and horticultural production areas. This situation may be due to the fact that the development of the agriculture-related private sector in Burkina Faso as in many countries is still at the embryonic stage (SWAC, 2005).

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Burkina Faso. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.


Training Options for Extension Professionals

Training of agricultural extension in Burkina Faso is the responsibility of government in partnership with Universities and other educational learning institutions. According to Some and Boly (2009), the Institute of Rural Development (IDR) trains annually 40 to 50 agricultural professionals at the Bachelors level. The program is a 5 year degree program opened to high school graduates and offering degrees in the areas of Agronomy, Animal Science, Forestry, Sociology and Rural Economy, and Extension. In addition, IDR has a PhD training program in Integrated Management of Natural Resources. Extension training at University of Bobo-Dioulasso started in 2003 through Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE) initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and University of Bobo-Djoulasso. The purpose of this training that graduates students after three years is to reinforce the human potential of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Fishery Resources.  The institute also organizes in-service training for field technicians involved in extension activities (Some & Boly, 2009).


Info-Mediaries and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension

While infrastructure investments still remain problematic in developing countries, one of the dramatic changes over the course of the past decade has been an increase in mobile phone coverage and adoption in developing countries. The ICT sector in Burkina Faso has been fully liberalized (fixed line, mobile telephony and internet) and the government has put in place a regulatory body called the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications (ARCE) to facilitate ICT integration into various economic sectors including the agricultural sector (MEF, 2011). The Ministry of Agriculture has attempted to integrate ICT into information delivery. With the growth of mobile phone coverage, this initiative is gradually moving away from “traditional” (radio, TV and newsletters) ICTs to the use of mobile phones, including voice, SMS and internet-based services. A 2009 World Bank statistics report indicated that 20.9 percent of the population of Burkina Faso own and operated a mobile phone, and less than 2 percent had access to internet service in 2009. These numbers have been on the rise every year.

ICT tools and services such as voice-based information delivery services, radio dial-up and broadcasts, SMS-based extension services and E-learning (typically involving the development of telecenters that allow farmers to access computers and internet resources) are present in Burkina Faso and farmers use them to share new production, processing and marketing skills. Mobile application platforms such as Dialog, Système d’Information des Marchés Agricoles (SIMA), Miproka (computer internet), Sissili Vala Kori TV Koodo (market price information using web and national TV) and Esoko (mobile-based agriculture market information exchange for individuals and businesses) are also used by farmers in Burkina Faso (Aker, 2010).


Resources and References

Aker, J.C. 2010. Dial “A” for Agriculture: Using Information and Communication Technologies for Agricultural Extension in Developing Countries. Staff Paper. Economics Department and Fletcher School, Medford, Tufts University. MA.

Amanor, K and Farrington, J. (1991). “NGOS and Agricultural Technology Development.” In

Rivera, W. and Gustafson, D. (Eds.). Agricultural Extension: Worldwide Institutional Evolution and Forces for Change. Elsevier, New York.

CIA.2012. Burkina Faso Economy 2012: 2012 Cia World Factbook and other Sources: Report. http://www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/burkina_faso/burkina_faso_economy.html

Eponou, T. 1996Partners in Technology Generation and Transfer: Linkages between Research  and Farmers' Organizations in three Selected African Countries. International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), Research Report # 9.

MEF. 2011.  Investing in Future: Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development. Business Environment, Investments Opportunities and Public-Private Partnership. Ministry of Economy and Finance, Burkina Faso.

Some, A. & H. Boly. 2009. Experiences with the Mid-career Program: Progress and Challenges. University of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. In Proceedings of East Africa Regional Safe Networking Workshop. The Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE). Compiled by Isaac Mambo

Toe J. B. & A. E. Pouahoukiga. 2009. Etude Comparative des Methods de Vulgarisation à Grande Echelle au Burkina Faso: Raport Final. Union Africaine/SAFGRAD, Recherche et Développement Agricoles dans les zones Semi-Arides d’Afrique.

SWAC. 2005. The Family Economy and Agricultural Innovation in West Africa: Towards New Partnerships. Overview. An Initiative of the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) Secretariat. Transformation of West African Agriculture. 


Related Resources


Ministère de l'Agriculture, de l'Hydraulique et des Ressources Halieutiques (MAHRH)  

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CNRST)

Centre National de Semences Forestières (CNSF)Forestry 

Higher Education

Université de Ouagadougou (UO)  

Université Polytechnique de Bobo-Dioulasso (UPB) 

Université Catholique de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (UCAO) - Unité Universitaire à Bobo-Dioulasso (UUB) 

Burkina Faso is active in the CILSS, Comité permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (Permanent Interstate Committee for the Fight against Drought in the Sahel),  www.cilss.bf

  • Among other initiatives, CILSS promotes producer access to markets ("Programme Régional Accès aux Marchés")

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Persons responsible for this report: Andre M. Nnoung, Burt E. Swanson and Andrea B. Bohn 

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