Special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger

Green innovation centre Benin

Benin: harvesting maize with a combine harvester

The majority of Benin’s rural population lives in extreme poverty. Although farmers here grow staple foods such as maize and cassava, they generate very little in terms of income. To make matters worse, crop yields are steadily declining as arable soils become impoverished.

Attempts to raise sheep, goats and chickens are not particularly successful, which represents another problem. Better animal husbandry systems can reduce the rate at which young animals are lost. Rice and soy cultivation can also provide better income-earning potential. The green innovation centre in Benin focuses on exploiting the potential offered by rice, soy and poultry.

What is so innovative?

Coaching in business administration: Every fortnight, 60 experts visit a total of 1,500 farms and processing plants. They provide instruction in the following areas of business administration: management, accounts, preparation of business plans and development of visions for the future. This enables firms to expand and new jobs to be created.

Insurance in the event of an emergency: The parastatal organisation AMAB offers insurance policies against rice and soy crop failures. These can be used by both farmers and processing companies to protect themselves against losses.

Mobile team of instructors: 100 agricultural instructors are going from village to village giving courses to 25 farmers at a time. Over the next few years, this will enable the instructors to reach a total of 35,000 farmers. At the end of the training sessions, smallholders are able to calculate the exact amount of fertiliser they require per hectare and how many people are needed to help with the harvest. Not only does this save costs but it increases income at the same time.

Our objectives

  • To increase income for 50,000 smallholders by 33 per cent
  • To create 1,000 new jobs
  • To provide education and training for 70,000 smallholders

Routes to success

Up to now, rice farmers in Benin have only been harvesting between two and three tonnes of rice per hectare. By planting rice crops further apart, using seeds that are adapted to the soil and climate, applying organic fertiliser produced by their livestock and by continually irrigating their plants, farmers can increase their yields per hectare to as much as five tonnes. Over the next few years, the Africa Rice Center research institute and the green innovation centre will pass on the new farming methods (known as the System of Rice Intensification) to 5,000 farmers.

The green innovation centre in Benin works together closely with two other projects under the special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger: one focuses on food and nutrition security and enhanced resilience, while the other focuses on soil protection. All three projects cooperate closely with the Africa Rice Center and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and the funding received from various international donors is pooled. This funding is used to train agricultural extension officers and to advise producer groups and smallholders on how to improve their level of organisation and enhance the efficiency of their work.

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