September 2012 - In response to the uneven results of development assistance to date, FAO is henceforth to encourage a series of good practices, including the use of "integrated projects", whose implementation is based on the entire value chain and the use of an inter-project framework.
In Mali, FAO is in its second year of supporting a partnership between two projects, namely the Water and Food Security Initiative for Africa (IESA), and the project for the Improvement of Rice Production in West Africa in Response to Soaring Food Prices (APRAO).
These two projects, funded by the Government of Spain, were launched in 2006 and 2010 respectively and both target the same goal: to increase household food security through strengthening of the productive capacity of agricultural systems. Specifically, the IESA project focuses on the development of rural areas through hydro-agricultural schemes for the production of rice and vegetable crops, while the APRAO project is geared towards strengthening the rice sector, with particular attention to the use of quality seeds and the sector-based approach.
In this context, the establishment of a partnership framework and participatory collaboration network proved to be determining factors in the success of the initiatives.
Establishment of the partnership
"The gateway into the APRAO project is the win-win partnership around a specific goal that calls on beneficiaries to help achieve their production objectives but is also of concern to the various partners involved in the value chain, specifying the responsibilities of each. This has been our approach since the beginning," said Mohamed Soumare, APRAO Project Coordinator in Mali.
With this principle in mind, the National Component of the APRAO project, under the responsibility of the FAO Representation in Mali, embarked on the establishment of effective partnerships to ensure the involvement of all stakeholders of the rice value chain. Examples of such active partnerships are the collaborations with the Integrated Production and Pest Management programme (IPPM), or the Luxembourg's Cooperation programme, or the ARPASO-San programme.
A particularly dynamic partnership has developed between the national components of the APRAO and IESA projects. A consultation framework has been established whereby the coordinating bodies of the two projects meet every three months in the presence of representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, to take stock of interventions, assess needs and identify ways in which each can support the planned activities.
At one such meeting, in which the question of the optimal exploitation of the lowlands of the IESA project sites arose, the APRAO project decided to harness its resources not only to strengthen the capacities of actors to produce better, but also to support those producers in terms of inputs, i.e. quality seeds and fertilizers.
During the official ceremony that took place on Wednesday 11 July 2012 in the rural community of Baguineda (Koulikoro), the FAO representative for Mali, Mr Ella Ondo, and the national authorities conducted a symbolic handover of the certified seeds and fertilizer from the APRAO project to the farmers’ organisations from the IESA sites located in the Koulikoro region.
The use of these quality seeds and fertilizer will enable the start-up of seven bottomlands and two small village irrigation schemes serviced by the IESA project during the 2012 winter campaign. An increase in paddy production of around 500 tonnes is expected from an additional 100 of cultivated land.
In addition to contributing high-quality inputs, other interventions by the APRAO project include enhancing the skills of producers and advisors through the IPPM programme and branches of the national Directorates of Agriculture in the country’s different regions. For example, training sessions were held last week at the Selingue and Kolokani sites during which facilitators and producers from the IESA project joined those from the APRAO project in the training sessions attended by 50 beneficiaries including 14 women.
The positive impacts of this partnership are not limited to the aforementioned aspects.
The consultation framework established does enable the effective pooling of skills for solving pertinent problems and are therefore more effective. Their effectiveness has in fact been recognized by the supervisory authority for food safety issues: the Ministry of Agriculture is taking the projects’ actions on board by incorporating them in their annual reports and Action Programmes of the National Directorate of Agriculture. This will ultimately contribute in consolidating the sustainability of all the achievements.