Burkina Faso is a poor, landlocked country of about 14 million inhabitants with per capita incomes of US$430—less than half the sub-Saharan average. It is also one of Africa’s least urbanized countries, with up to 80 percent of the population engaged in farming. However, less than 18 per cent of the land is cultivable due to poor soil quality and recent droughts and desertification. Overly dependent on cotton exports, which typically generate more than half the country’s annual export revenue, many farmers are extremely vulnerable to global price fluctuations for their primary cash crop. To counteract this situation, the government has worked to diversify the agricultural base to reduce poverty, but previous efforts have rarely flourished. Yields remained low, and farmers largely failed to penetrate regional and international markets.
The IDA-financed Agricultural Diversification and Market Development Project was launched in 2007 to increase coordination, competitiveness and growth in agricultural products—led by mangoes and onions—with the greatest potential to capture national and regional sales. The intent was to transform the country’s rural development strategy by creating a favorable environment for private investment that would diversify farm output by
-Encouraging the most promising private sector and commodity associations to integrate with market-driven agricultural supply chains—enhancing coordination between production, processing and marketing
-Strengthening infrastructure to improve agricultural productivity, output quality, and market links
-Improving core support services, including a better institutional, regulatory and financial environment for private investment.
After about two years of implementation, the project is making headway, particularly in mango and onion production and marketing.
- Mangoes. Mango producers, processors and traders have organized an association and prepared an action plan to grow their business. Mango processing has more than quadrupled—from 1,400 to 5,700 tons. Meanwhile exports of fresh mangoes have doubled—from 1,500 to 3,000 tons. International buyers have been identified and tapped to open new markets in Morocco, Lebanon and England. The project has also enabled about 500 farmers to adopt new technologies that have increased their yields by 1,000 tons/hectare.
- Onions. Exports have more than doubled from 8,000 to 20,000 tons with the opening of a new market in western Côte d’Ivoire. In addition the project supported introduction of improved facilities that boosted onion storage capacity by 2,000 tons. Technical assistance enabled producers to better manage their activities and market their crops, resulting in a doubling of the minimum price for onions from CFA 6,000 in 2008 to CFA 12,000 in 2009. As a result, the supply chains have become more profitable.
- Cattle/beef. About 500 small-scale farmers who fattened a handful of cattle for sale per year have been transformed into semi-modern businessmen. Improved techniques have allowed them to increase their outputs from 5 to 10 fattened cattle per year to about 60 per year (with 20 fattened every four months).
- Poultry. The project supported more than 225 farmers to develop poultry microprojects and conducted a vaccination campaign that reached 15 percent of all local poultry.
The total project cost is US$84.5, of which US$66 million is covered by an IDA credit. Local farmer organizations are providing US$7.5 million, another US$7.5 million comes from financial intermediaries, and the Government of Burkina Faso is supplying US$3.5 million.
The project is currently on track to achieve its development objectives. Continued success will largely depend on how strong the market link grows between producers and processors since supply chain development is still in the formative stage.
Agricultural Diversification and Market Development Project (2006–13)