Faced with the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) designed and implemented a project under the Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. This is the Support Project for the Plan to Mitigate the Impacts of Covid-19 on the Agricultural Sector and Food and Nutrition Security. Update on the achievements and impact of this TCP from the start of its implementation to date.
In her rice field, a portion of an agricultural area of fifteen (15) hectares in Covè in southern Benin, Clementine Dovonou, 30 years old, works with members of the Wabadou 2 cooperative. The farmers are diligent weeding their field at the start of the afternoon, under a blazing sun. During an interview she gave to the follow-up mission commissioned by FAO Benin and the MAEP, Clementine said: ”FAO rice seeds have produced very good results compared to our old seeds.’ ‘A hundred kilometers away, precisely in Glazoué in the Center-South of Benin, another beneficiary of the FAO named Celestine Hounzinmin from the Nouwagnon group, appreciates: ”It’s a good quality of maize! Our difficulties in accessing seed have reduced considerably, thanks to this intervention by the FAO”.
“The Covid-19 pandemic had paved the way for poverty…”
Indeed, thanks to Project TCP/BEN/3802 entitled Support for the Plan to Mitigate the Impacts of Covid-19 on the Agricultural Sector and Food and Nutrition Security, rural women and young people in Benin have been supported for access to agricultural inputs. The Project was initiated and implemented in a context of difficulties related to access to agricultural seeds due to Beninese government measures to limit travel in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Indeed, like most countries in the world, Benin was struck by Covid-19, the first case of which was reported in March 2020. In response to this situation, several measures have been taken by the Government of Benin to curb the pandemic. Measures such as the temporary closure of schools, colleges and universities, mosques and churches, the establishment of a sanitary cordon around the most exposed municipalities: Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi, Allada, Ouidah, Tori-Bossito, Zè, Sèmè-Podji, Porto-Novo, Sô-Ava, Aguégués, Akpro-Missérété, Adjarra, Toffo, Kpomassè and Avrankou. FAO beneficiary farmer Rose Aredina, Chief of the Omou village in Kétou in south-eastern Benin and maize producer remembers : “The Covid-19 pandemic had paved the way for poverty here. Producers couldn’t go anywhere. The attics were empty, it was difficult to eat”.
The FAO Project TCP/BEN/3802 came at the right time in support of the Beninese government’s efforts to “improve the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises” linked to the pandemic.
“Groups of women, young people and individual producers have so far received 77 tons of NPK fertilizer, 16 tons of urea, 34 tons of maize seeds, 25 tons of rice seeds and 720 boxes of 100 grams tomatoes,” said Mr. Eugène Djossou, MAEP executive and coordinator of Project TCP/BEN/3802 at the FAO. The project also supported the Technical Support Unit for Food and Nutritional Security (CT / SAGSA), to carry out the analysis of food insecurity according to the methodology of the Harmonized Framework (CH) tool in the context of covid -19. Also, the realization and edition of the evaluation report of the agricultural campaign of Benin 2021-2022 were made, without forgetting the analysis of the Economy of the Households in situation of Covid-19. The number of people affected by the project to date is estimated at around four thousand (4000).
In terms of aquaculture, the project carried out the diagnosis of fish feed manufacturing units in order to build their capacity in equipment and techniques for manufacturing fish feed. To this end, equipment has been ordered and will soon be given to the beneficiaries identified for this purpose.
According to the opinions of the beneficiaries, the marketing of the products harvested during the first agricultural campaign had a positive impact on the daily lives of households. This is the case of rural women Clementine Dovonou and Marcelline Ahonou, two rice producers who recognized that Project TCP/BEN/3802 not only facilitated access to food in their families but also the schooling of their children with resources from the sale of harvested products. ”The marketing of products obtained from FAO seeds is easy, because the grains are beautiful and large, my customers have appreciated it a lot!” This is a statement from Dame Ogoumandjo Ramantou, maize seller. and cooperative member in Pobè in the south-east of Benin. This declaration provides information on the quality of the harvest generated by the seeds donated by Project TCP/BEN/3802.
More than 120 localities are impacted from north to south of Benin. With an overall budget of US$486,000, the project started in December 2020. The objective is that, by 2023, the most vulnerable Beninese populations will be more resilient to the harmful effects of Covid-19 and that they have a better quality of life.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.