The field programme includes the provision of technical assistance in projects aimed at improving research and extension institutions, processes, and methodologies.
The types of projects include:
- review and assessment of research and extension systems,
- assistance in piloting and establishing demand driven, market oriented, pluralistic, and participatory research and extension systems and incorporating these elements into comprehensive agriculture and rural development programmes,
- enhancing the use of advanced information & communication technologies to facilitate agricultural technology generation and dissemination
- policy development and institutional capacity building on biotechnology and biosafety for national research systems
Projects include those funded by FAO as well as other international funding sources. Research and Extension also provides regional and sub-regional workshops on enhancing national research and extension systems, studies, and reports which provide technical information and normative frameworks that facilitate the implementation of new policies and programs.
IARBIC: Intensifying Agriculture in Niger
Between 2008 and 2013, FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture of Niger have led a €6 million programme known as IARBIC to intensify agriculture in the west African country. The programme, which aims at strengthening Niger's cooperative input shops, was funded by Belgium (€664,000), the European Union (€3.7 million), Luxemburg (€1.2 million) and Spain (€150,000). The government of Niger has provided an additional €127,000.
The strategy of IARBIC focuses on farmer organizations and their federations by developing their capacities to manage the network of input shops and to organize joint input orders, farmer field schools, income generating and other activities. Facilitating access for men and women to the right qualities and quantities of agricultural inputs, acquiring knowledge on how to apply them and strengthening the organizational and financial capacities of the farmer organizations are crucial aspects to achieve sustainable results.
IARBIC achieved the following additional results:
Established 264 inputs shops and trained the farmer organizations on how to manage them. The total of 783 shops built by IARBIC, previous project phases and partner organizations cover over half of Niger's agricultural villages.
Organized 375 farmer field schools and 750 demonstrations reaching almost 7 500 farmers, half of them women, achieving yield increases of up to 100 percent.
Built 100 warehouses for warrantage (inventory credit scheme), now available to some 100 000 farmers
Establishment of €653 000 guarantee fund for 8 farmers federations, representing 164 000 farmers, in order to enhance their economic activities.
According to FAO's most recent hunger statistics, Niger has brought down undernourishment threefold over the last two decades, now affecting one out of every eight persons, as compared to almost one in three in 1990-1992.
But vulnerability persists. The UN has warned that 800 000 people may need food aid this year, a consequence of the recurrent crises the Sahel region has experienced due to drought, high food prices and political upheaval.
The links below provide more information about IARBIC
1. FAO-Government project to intensify agriculture pays off for female farmers in Niger (article)
2. Putting the right inputs in the hands of Niger's farmers (article)
3. Financing the Future (video)
4. Growing together: Intensifying agriculture in Niger (video)