Promoting agriculture in Benin (ProAgri)
Title: Promotion of agriculture in Benin
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministère de l'Agriculture, de l'Elevage et de la Pêche (MAEP); (Benin Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fishery)
Overall term: 2017 to 2020
Benin is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than a third of its roughly ten million inhabitants living below the poverty line. Due to continuing population growth, the moderate economic growth seen in recent years is unable to reduce the country’s abject poverty.
The most important sector of the economy is agriculture. Around two thirds of the population earn their living from this sector, and it provides 80 per cent of the country’s export goods. Despite its significance, the development of the agricultural sector is subject to numerous barriers: It is characterised by family-run smallholder farming and is hardly diversified; productivity is low, and there is scarcely a processing industry to speak of. In addition, the challenges posed by climate change make farming more difficult and increase the risk of crop failures. There are also insufficient local, regional or internationally established markets for the agricultural produce.
Moreover, agricultural extension services are rare. There is a lack of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilisers or loans. Administrative structures are not very efficient. Generally speaking, women are involved in the economic value creation processes only to a very limited extent and are underrepresented in decision-making positions.
To reduce poverty and ensure the population enjoys food security, it is vital to modernise the agricultural sector. Central tasks in this respect include specific promotion of the private sector, enhancing the professionalism of agricultural farming and processing enterprises and diversifying the product chains.
Taking account of environmental and climate aspects, the capacity of Benin’s agriculture has improved as a result of support for selected value chains in the product chains for cashews, rice, shea and soya. Poverty among the rural population has been reduced.
The programme uses a multi-level approach to address the country, municipal and local levels in three fields of action.
- Policy and strategy advisory services: The aim here is to advise the Ministry of Agriculture on improving the political framework for development of the agricultural sector. Other stakeholders (such as the private sector and lobby groups) are also included through dialogue forums to improve better basic conditions for the value chains.
- Product chain structuring: This involves supporting and promoting the cooperation and organisation of stakeholders in cooperatives, agrobusiness clusters and dialogue forums in the selected value chains.
- Training for service providers and stakeholders in the value chains: The primary task here is to consolidate by transfer the outcomes of tested approaches (scaling up). The aim is to improve the entrepreneurial and technical skills of producers, processing groups and service providers.
The following results have been achieved through international cooperation activities to date:
- The ProAgri3 programme has been strongly involved in several strategy papers in the agricultural sector and given important stimuli, e.g. for taking greater account of the private sector and its stakeholders.
- More than 20,000 producers and some 15,000 processors of agricultural produce have received training on production and processing methods and on the topic of entrepreneurship.
- More than 400 farmer groups have been accompanied in their organisational development into cooperatives. Over 130 cooperatives have been officially registered. The number of members in umbrella organisations receiving assistance has risen by 55 per cent to over 7,500.
- A total of 362 cooperatives and farmer groups have been able to improve their production, processing and marketing through the negotiation of loans of more than EUR 1.2 million.
- 88 agricultural enterprises have received training as seed producers for soya and rice and have produced a total of 160 metric tonnes of quality-controlled seed.
- The productivity of soya has increased by 20 per cent to yields of around 1,000 kilogrammes per hectare.