Intensification of agriculture by strengthening a network of cooperative input shops
Niger’s Ministry of Agriculture and FAO have been supporting the intensification of agriculture by strengthening a network of cooperative input shops with € 6 million in support from Belgium, the European Union (EU), Luxemburg and Spain under a programme known as IARBIC.
Between 2008 and 2013, 264 input shops have been built, including 75 with earlier EU-funding. When combined with shops built in previous years and by partners that have followed the IARBIC example, the total number now reaches 783.
Through this vast network, well-priced and good quality agricultural inputs, ordered by the farmers organizations, are reaching over half of the agricultural villages in Niger, where average yield increases of 100 percent for sorghum and 81 percent for millet have been registered.
In addition, IARBIC has provided a wide range of skills to farmers, ranging from the full agricultural cycle to management and accounting for a farmer organization or a business, such as an input shop.
The programme has also promoted innovative micro-financing schemes, such as an inventory credit system known as ‘warrantage’, under which farmers stock part of their harvest and use it as collateral to obtain credit from a bank. The credit enables them to buy inputs for the next planting, or to engage in other income-generating activities.
IARBIC has set up a € 653 000 fund as a guarantee for loans requested by eligible farmer organizations. It lowers the risk of losses in the event of default, encouraging lenders to make money available.