Promotion of agriculture

Project description

Title: Promotion of agriculture in Benin (ProAgri)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Benin
Lead executing agency: Ministère de l'Agriculture, de l'Elevage et de la Pêche (MAEP); Ministère de l’Environnement Chargé de la Gestion des Changements Climatiques, du Reboisement et de la Protection des Ressources Naturelles (MECGCCRPRNF)
Overall term: 2011 to 2017


More than a third of Benin’s roughly ten million inhabitants live below the poverty line. The most important sector of the economy is agriculture, the proceeds of which support around two thirds of the population, and which provides 80 per cent of the country’s export goods. Despite its significance, the development of the agricultural sector is subject to numerous barriers. Yields are modest and there is hardly any processing industry to speak of. This is compounded by largely inefficient administrative structures, uncertainty over land rights and inadequate access to credit and agricultural inputs, such as seed and fertiliser.

To support the fight against poverty and ensure the population enjoys food security, it is vital to modernise the agriculture sector. Core tasks in this respect include promoting the private sector, enhancing the professionalism of agricultural processing businesses, and diversifying production chains.

The Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, which achieved UNESCO designation in 1986, forms part of a larger complex of protected areas covering roughly 28,600 sq km in the borderlands between Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. As a sanctuary for elephants and lions, the reserve plays a prominent role in achieving the strategy for biodiversity, both in Benin and internationally. Devised especially for Pendjari National Park, the co-management approaches that ensure the participation of the local people play an important part in nature conservation, tourism and economic development in the region.

To secure long-term funding for the national park, an environmental foundation – the Fondation des Savanes Ouest-Africaines, or FSOA – was set up with the support of German development cooperation actors.


Value addition has increased sustainably in the production chains for cashews, rice, shea nuts and soya, which play a role in tackling poverty. At the same time, social and environmental standards have improved. A sustainable management system that meets the requirements of the environmental foundation FSOA is being successfully applied in the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve.


In its activities to promote agriculture, the project concentrates on supporting cashew, rice, shea nut and soya production chains. For the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, it is working to establish the legal, organisational and financial prerequisites for a sustainable management system. The project advises national authorities on carrying out reforms in the agricultural sector. The private sector also contributes to this, for instance through newly formed interest groups and dialogue forums.

In cooperation with producer associations, the project promotes the processing and marketing of agricultural products, and it runs training courses to improve cultivation, harvesting and processing methods.

The project is strengthening the national protected area authority, while also expanding the co-management structures for the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve. In addition to these activities, it is promoting the tourism sector.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft are cofinancing the project, and the private sector is also making a financial contribution, for instance through the initiatives Cotton Made in Africa and the African Cashew Initiative.

The consulting firm AFC supports the implementation of the project.


The following results have been achieved through international cooperation activities:

  • At least 110,000 rural households have raised their incomes by nearly 30 per cent in the space of five years.
  • More than 10,000 new jobs have been created in product processing and marketing. Above all, these provide additional income opportunities for women.
  • Over the last four years, more than 70,000 cashew farmers increased their yields by almost 80 per cent.
  • The incomes of people living adjacent to Pendjari National Park have risen by an average of 25 per cent. Households involved in tourism have seen their incomes increase by as much as 60 per cent.
  • Thanks to the involvement of the local population, the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve provides a model for the management of protected areas in West Africa.