Helping smallholder crop and livestock farmers boost their production

The association Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF) has worked since 1977 to support agriculture and livestock farming in 20 developing countries in Africa, South America, and Asia. It brings in professionals such as agronomists and veterinarians to help farming communities threatened by hunger and poverty. It trains them to manage their resources in a sustainable manner and foster their growth.

The Air Liquide Foundation supports two AVSF projects in Brazil and Senegal for which the association won the Air Liquide Foundation Award for Societal Innovation.

Livestock breeding and agriculture: a wealth of expertise

AVSF was created through the merger in 2004 of the Centre International de Coopération pour le Développement Agricole with Vétérinaires Sans Frontières. These dual origins now enable it to meet a variety of needs, such as supporting the sustainable development of natural resources (irrigation management, forest management, etc.), expanding local livestock breeding and animal health systems, boosting productivity (through the integration of agriculture and livestock breeding, agro-ecology, etc.), strengthening farmers’ organizations, and more.

Development of an alternative energy in Senegal: biogas

The Ferlo region in Northern Senegal contains more than half of the country’s cattle and sheep. This arid zone is also home to 350,000 people and its woodlands (a primary source of energy) are under increasing pressure due to significant difficulties in accessing the conventional energy grid. Thus, AVSF has chosen to conduct a pilot project there, by installing 46 biodigesters to convert cattle and small livestock animal waste into biogas. In 2013, the Air Liquide Foundation funded the construction of eight biodigesters, providing energy for 550 people. This production method has numerous domestic benefits: providing light for homes and classrooms, providing energy for cooking, limiting methane emissions from the fermentation of animal waste, reducing the burden of carrying wood for women, and limiting emissions of wood smoke in homes.

Finding commercial opportunities for fruits produced by Brazilian farming families

Fruit trees are an important resource for farming families from the arid Nordeste region in Brazil. However, a large proportion of the fruit harvest is lost due to the lack of an organized industry and processing infrastructure. To create value from this resource, AVSF’s project consists in developing fruit processing to turn them into non-perishable products (jams, jellies, and preserves) and to boost their sales in local markets. The Air Liquide Foundation grant funded the installation of two fruit pulp and cashew nut processing units as well as four mobile mechanical pumps to collect the water that accumulates in small ponds on family farms. In 2014, the year the project was launched, nearly 3,000 m³ of water were stored in order to improve the living conditions of over one hundred farming families.

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A word from the sponsors

The small-scale farmers in this arid region have a very hard time making a decent living from farming. The AVSF initiative was thus perfectly suited for this area. By diversifying their income-generating activities, these farming families are able to generate additional revenues, which they desperately need.

Felipe Jordache
Air Liquide Brazil

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To find out more

ASVF’s Website: www.avsf.org

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Testimonials

This micro-initiative immediately appealed to us because of its modest yet immediate effects, which improve the
well-being of the families receiving assistance. They use less wood, spend less time preparing meals, and can therefore dedicate more time to other activities. This experiment works; it has attracted the attention of people in the surrounding areas, and makes us want to go even further by installing more biodigesters in the region.

Olivier Robberechts
Air Liquide Senegal