Impact evaluation of integrated soil fertility management programme in Burkina Faso

Publication Details

3ie Funded Evaluation, TW4.1028. A link to the completed study will appear here when available.

Frolich, M., Maiga, E., Bouguen, A. Koussoube, E.
Institutional affiliations
None specified
Grant-holding institution
None specified
Burkina Faso
Sub-Saharan Africa (includes East and West Africa)
None specified
Agricultural Reform, Agricultural Extension, Agro-Industry & Marketing, Agricultural Research
Gender analysis
Agricultural Reform, Agricultural Extension, Agro-Industry & Marketing, Agricultural Research
Gender analysis
Equity Focus
Gender, Poverty
Evaluation design
Randomised Control Trials (RCT)
Ongoing 3ie Funded Studies
3ie Funding Window
Agricultural Innovation Thematic Window


This study evaluates the impact of Groupe de Recherche et d’Actions pour le Développement's (GRAD’s) integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) programme in Burkina Faso on agricultural productivity and income and how this differs for male and female farmers.


Low agricultural yields are a key challenge facing many Sub-Saharan African countries. Dormon and others (2004) suggest that low adoption of agricultural technologies is one of the main reasons for low productivity. GRAD is promoting ISFM technologies to help address the issue of low productivity. The findings of this impact evaluation can help GRAD in achieving their goal of widespread ISFM adoption through ensuring effective technology transmission to farmers, which in turn will help increase their agricultural yields and farm incomes. The study can also potentially inform Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA’s) agricultural programmes in Burkina Faso.

Research questions

  1. How do labour intensive techniques compare with traditional farming practices and non-organic fertiliser usage?
  2. Are dissemination activities such as demonstration plots an effective way of increasing adoption of agricultural technologies?
  3. What are the constraints to adoption?
  4. What are the impacts of ISFM technologies on agricultural productivity and farmers’ income?


Intervention design

The evaluation will directly investigate impacts of ISFM technologies and practices through measures of adoption, productivity, and farmer income. The GRAD programme provides selected farmers belonging to small farmers’ organisations training of ISFM technologies through demonstration plots. These plots will allow for the dissemination of ISFM technologies through the teaching of regular farming practices, labour-intensive farming technologies, and capital intensive technologies, supplemented by field trips, informational materials, and videos to ensure a proper dissemination of knowledge among targeted farmers.

Theory of change

Low productivity in Burkina Faso’s agriculture sector affects most of its rural population. Burkina Faso’s chronic production challenges occur due to a combination of erratic environmental conditions, lack of knowledge dissemination regarding best farming practices, low availability and high price of agricultural inputs, and a lack of rural transportation infrastructure.

Increasing farmer awareness of sustainable ISFM technologies is key for enhancing productivity, thus, providing evidence on the impact of ISFM on productivity and income can contribute to inform the future design and implementation of other GRAD projects in Burkina Faso. The main outcomes of interest in GRAD’s project are: i) adoption of ISFM technologies, ii) agricultural production, and iii) income generation. With knowledgeable staff and extension workers, useful information regarding best practices can be successfully disseminated to enhance knowledge of ISFM technologies and change underlying apprehensions towards adoption. This in turn will lead to increases in agricultural productivity, farmer income, and the reduction of poverty and food insecurity.

Additionally, the evaluation of this programme aims to contribute to the future design and implementation of policies geared towards reducing gender inequalities in access to agricultural information. 

Evaluation design

This study uses a two-stage clustered randomised controlled trial. A total of 1,800 cowpea farmers from 100 farmer organisations in Sanmetenga, are part of the study.

Farmers will be randomly assigned to treatment and control. The treatment will benefit from GRAD’s expertise to set up demonstration plots to disseminate information and sustainable best ISFM practices. Treatment 1 will provide farmers training using regular farming practices (PP), treatment 2 provides training on labour intensive technologies (LI), and treatment 3 combines LI practices with capital intensive technologies (LI+). 

In the first stage, the researchers are interested in the impact of the use of PP on yield, as compared to the use of LI or LI+. In the second stage, researchers investigate how each technology is adopted by farmer organizations, while qualitative data is supplemented to understand underlying perceptions towards ISFM technology adoption that may exist among farmers. As cowpea is a crop primarily cultivated by women, the study also intends to evaluate the heterogeneous impacts of ISFM technologies on the basis of gender.

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