Science, Technology and Innovation

In 2021, under the leadership of the Chief Scientist Office, FAO piloted the Pro-Sahel project, which aims to scale up investments in irrigation technologies for small-scale farmers in the Niger and Burkina Faso. The Pro-Sahel project invested USD 500 000 to deliver two national roadmaps for investing in and scale up of small-scale irrigation technologies.
The project was conducted in close partnership with Akademiya2063, an African institution specialized in economic analysis and policy advice for African development, together with national stakeholders from the agriculture and irrigation sectors in Burkina Faso and the Niger, and FAO Country Offices, the FAO Regional Office for Africa, the Hand-in-Hand initiative, and expertise from the Investment Centre in Rome.


The roadmaps indicate how the use of irrigation technologies can be scaled up for expanding irrigated agriculture in Burkina Faso and the Niger. This will boost agricultural production and post-production activities and significantly reduce poverty and food insecurity.

The Pro-Sahel analysis indicates the irrigation technologies for small-scale farmers to select the most suitable locations to develop the investment, the priority crop value chains to consider for prioritization, estimated costs for investments and lays out the appropriate policy reforms for making the technologies adapted to the context in detail for each country. Furthermore, this project suggests that the impact of all other technology types is relevant to making the agrifood system more effective in the Sahel. This includes renewable energy technologies, including solar panels that make energy and irrigation accessible in remote rural areas, and mechanization and food processing to reduce food loss.

The roadmap proposed for small-scale irrigation development is in line with existing frameworks at continental and regional levels. It includes five broadly defined priority action areas to be created or strengthened for effective and sustainable expansion of small-scale irrigation in Burkina Faso and in the Niger.

Five pillars for investment in irrigation technologies for small-scale producers in Niger and Burkina Faso 
Pillar 1

1. Strengthening the technological support system to adapt, standardize, multiply and maintain small technologies and their accessories
Pillar 2

2. Strengthening the advisory and extension system to provide services adapted to the context of small-scale farmers
Pillar 3
3. Directing market access options towards collective marketing and linking farmers with agro-processors and Agri-parks

Pillar 4

4. Scaling up marketing approaches and intervention support to programmes to be more comprehensive and inclusive and to encourage farmers and the private sector to invest
Pillar 5

5. Establishing an institutional framework to mobilize funds and coordinate stakeholders involved in small-scale irrigation
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