Our research and expertise span over 70 on-going and historical projects in more than 40 countries. Our current and past projects demonstrate the breadth of applied research and consulting services delivered by BFH-HAFL’s cross-disciplinary research teams.

Selected Projects

The overall goal of this project is to improve the livelihoods of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in Somalia and Djibouti. The project includes increasing community productivity by improving farming techniques and introducing sustainable management practices for water, watersheds, rangelands and small ruminants. The project is being carried out by TRANSTEC, together with Vétérinaires sans frontières Suisse and BFH-HAFL.

Improving Dryland Livelihoods in Djibouti and Somalia Enlarge image

Specific tasks of the BFH-HAFL team include:

  • capacity development and support for the development of participatory rangeland management plans
  • assistance in the implementation of an agricultural research strategy and the development of local research capacities, in particular by hosting Masters students at BFH-HAFL and supporting the development of the Aburin Research Center.

RISE is a computer-supported method developed at BFH-HAFL facilitating the holistic assessment of agricultural operations. The evaluation is based on ten indicators that reflect environmental, economic and social aspects. The most important data source is a questionnaire-based interview with the farmer. The evaluated data are visualised as a sustainability polygon and serve as the basis for a feedback dialogue in which the farmer and the trained RISE consultant together identify potentials for improving farm sustainability performance.

RISE has been used around the world by more than 300 trained RISE users in 60 countries on more than 4,000 agricultural operations. The operations evaluated include dairy, vegetable, arable and mixed farms, coffee, cocoa and tea plantations, African smallholdings and nomadic herders.

RISE sustainability Enlarge image

The Pinoy Tannin project developed the scientific, technological, social and economic bases to set up a sustainable tannin value chain (including planting, extracting and processing) in the Philippines, to contribute to the creation of new revenue possibilities for local communities.

Pinoy Tannin Enlarge image

In this four-year project, researchers from BFH-AHB, BFH-HAFL and various institutes in the Philippines identified coconut husks as a promising source of large quantities of tannin. A pilot plant for the extraction of tannins was also built.

In the long-term, the project outcomes are envisaged to contribute to a sustainable land use transition in degraded forest landscapes and the creation of new job opportunities among local communities.

The project was led by the BFH-AHB Institute for Materials and Wood Technology IWH, with BFH-HAFL responsible for coordinating the piloting of tannin plantations and supporting policy dialogues. The project was carried out in close collaboration with Philippine institutions – the Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST FPRDI), the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and Visayas State University College of Agriculture and Food Science (VSUCAFS) – in the context of the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d).

Watch the project-wrap video, with subtitles in French, German or English, on YouTube.

Togo intends to participate in a UNFCCC mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). The World Bank is supporting Togo in its preparation for this REDD+ mechanism, with BFH-HAFL having provided technical assistance for the project since 2013. In addition to the general coordination of the process, BFH-HAFL has helped Togo define its REDD+ strategy, implement its first national forest inventory and analyse historical forest cover change and associated changes in forest carbon stocks, which will serve as references for determining future emission reductions to be achieved by implementing the national REDD+ strategy.

REDD+ Togo Enlarge image

The aim of an original, smaller, project in Armenia, which ran from 2017 to 2020, was to develop labour-market-oriented vocational education and training (VET) in the Syunik region in order to improve the livelihoods of farmers involved in milk and meat value chains. 

That project, called “Vocational Education and Training Development in Syunik, Armenia”, focused on developing the capacities of selected VET colleges and strengthening the links between these institutions and the private sector to provide competence- and activity-oriented practical education. 

BFH-HAFL supported Goris State Agricultural College and ANAU Sisian Branch College in developing and implementing the new curriculum for animal health and milk processing specialists and improving their advisory services. In addition to curriculum development, BFH-HAFL experts delivered a series of workshops that enabled local teams to acquire new skills and learn new methods and tools for providing innovative and market-oriented VET in agriculture. 

The successful completion of the “Vocational Education and Training Development in Syunik, Armenia” project led to the creation of the “Modernizing Vocational Education and Training in Agriculture in Armenia” (MAVETA) project. 

The MAVETA project improves the knowledge and skills of professionals and students in agriculture and related fields. It supports the development of the legal and institutional framework for dual-track vocational education and training, which combines working in a company with lessons in the vocational school. Thus, it contributes to sustainable, climate-friendly and inclusive growth, increased incomes, and enhanced (self)employment in rural Armenia. 


Scope of the project

MAVETA’s preparatory phase started in December 2021 and was successfully completed in August 2022. The first phase started thereafter and will run until August 2025. The second phase has already been approved, in principle, for 2026–2030. 

MAVETA works to anchor dual-track education approaches at the political and institutional level. The aims are to make policies coherent, educational institutions more effective, and to better establish cooperation between the public and private sectors. 

On the ground, the project once again works with Goris State Agricultural College and ANAU Sisian Branch College (Syunik), plus Stepanavan State Agricultural College (Lori), Berd Multifunctional State College (Tavush), Echmiadzin Craftsman State School (Armavir) and Yerevan branch of ANAU. 

The selected professions within the MAVETA project include veterinary specialist, milk and dairy technologist, farmer, agricultural machinery, dairy farm manager, and orchard worker/nut and fruit farmer. 

BFH-HAFL supports the project in developing VET curricula for these professions. Facilitation of private sector involvement during this process is crucial. BFH-HAFL not only provides professional and methodological training for teachers to achieve an activity- and competence-oriented learning process, it also supports the expansion of collaboration methods between colleges and companies. 

The MAVETA project, with a total budget of CHF 8.3 million, is funded by a broad coalition of international and local organizations led by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), including the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Government of Armenia, the Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER) NGO, Izmirlian Foundation, the Strategic Development Agency (SDA) NGO and Vanand Agro CJSC. The project’s implementing partners are the GIZ and HEKS/EPER with the involvement of SDA and BFH-HAFL. 

Project leader: Johannes Brunner 
Further reading: SDC story September 2022 
Further information: BFH-HAFL website

In this GIZ-funded project, the objective is to develop a competence-oriented curriculum of a practice-oriented bachelor’s degree programme in Food Science and Technology at Yezin Agricultural University (YAU) in Myanmar. This contributes to the wider mandate of the project focused on 'Enhancing the education, teaching and research capacities of public and private training and education institutions in food safety and quality'.

Yezin Agricultural University (YAU) in Myanmar Enlarge image

BFH-HAFL was mandated to support this process with inputs from its Food Sciences and Management Division and from the Teaching and Advising Group of its Transdisciplinary Subjects Division. The project was acquired with the support of the International Agriculture Group of the Agriculture Division. During the one-year consultancy, BFH-HAFL staff have provided competencies in food safety and quality management as well as overall thematic backstopping and needs-based conceptual support for studies, analysis and the development of the content of the established curriculum in collaboration with stakeholders from the public and private sector in food science and technology.

The study of the cotton value chain in Cameroon is aimed to help the Delegations of the European Union and their partners to develop political dialogue, invest in value chains and learn about the changes linked to their actions. Value chain analysis helps decision-making in the context of policy dialogue and investment operations. The study helped to contextualize agricultural development in the market dynamics and to determine the impact of value chains on small producers and businesses.

VCA4D-study (value chain for development) on cotton in Cameroon Enlarge image

The research study relies on Value Chain Analysis for Development tool funded by the European Commission / DEVCO and implemented in partnership with Agrinatura. It uses a systematic methodological framework to analyze value chains related to agriculture, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry.

This study was carried out in 2019 by Michel Fok (CIRAD), Matthias Meier (FiBL/HAFL), Gian Nicolay (FiBL), Oumarou Balarabe (CIRAD) and Romain Calaque.