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Sasakawa Global 2000 Niet@Kene (Village Development Center) in Mali

by Amadou Diané and Abou Berthé (SAA Mali), Justine Wangila and Juliana Rwelamira

Introduction

The need for responsive extension approaches to train many farmers on improved farming practices in sub-Sahara Africa has been the preoccupation of many development partners.  The Sasakawa Global 2000 (SG 2000) who has worked for the past years in Africa has since 1996, collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture in Mali in Koulikoro, Mopti, Segou and Sikasso regions of Mali to provide extension services.

This extension initiative which is mainly through demonstration of technologies and training of farmers has involved hundreds of frontline extension workers, several thousands of farmers, service providers and other partners. The SG programs have focused on crop productivity enhancement, soil health, team building, financial intermediation, post-harvest handling and agro-processing (PHAP) and provision of market access.

The SG2000 extension efforts in Mali that focused on the adoption of improved technologies has borne many fruits and created surplus from production of food crops. Farmers faced new challenges such as market access and lack of or insufficient and appropriate storage facilities to preserve food products. The poor postharvest handling practices led to low quality of marketable produce. In addition, training meetings were mostly held either in open yards, under trees or houses of farmers. These meeting conditions were not always favorable or conducive to learning, especially during the rainy seasons and dry season with extreme temperatures. Collective rather than individual marketing was seen as one of the solutions for enhancing market access for smallholder farmers.

To address these challenges, SG 2000 Mali initiated the Village Development Centers in November 2006. These centers are locally known as NietaKene ("development centers") is a physical facility established on at least one hectare of land. 

The basic model of a NietaKene includes a building infrastructure for cereals and seed banks, a marketing store, meeting room, processing room, chicken pen, phone booth and toilet. Others are a tree nursery, drying yard, fishpond and water source.

The main objectives for the establishment of the NietaKenes were to:

·      provide communities with suitable facilities for training, meetings and accommodation, 

·      foster collective acquisition of inputs through bulking and collective marketing of surplus produce,

·      improve the quality of farmers’ produce to meet the emerging agro processing and urban consumer market demands,

·      facilitate the building of human capacity in business management, entrepreneurship and leadership  and

·      promote the development of income generation activities among the members of the NietaKene.

In every village where SG 2000 worked, there is an informal farmer association or a registered producer cooperative.  The village cooperatives and SG 2000 joint established all the ten NietaKenes in the Segou and Sikasso Regions of Mali since 2007 benefit all members in these villages. 

The following requirements are necessary for the establishment of NietaKene:

·         A formally registered village cooperative,

·         Availability of at least one hectare piece of officially  registered land,

·         The willingness of farmers to contribute materials and labor towards the construction of the NietaKene facility and  share PHAP equipment costs,

·         The commitment of members to undertake income generating activities,

·         Demonstration of transparency in management, and

·         Cooperation with other development partners interested in the activities of the cooperatives.

SG 2000 also contributes by way of sensitization, monitoring of technical aspects, donation of roofing, flooring, doors, windows and general furnishing of the facility, strengthening of management skills of cooperative leaders, training of farmers, offering of input loans, provision of machine operators and maintenance personnel. In addition, SG2000 subsidies the cost of PHAP equipment acquired by the cooperatives.


Challenges Associated with the Establishment of NietaKenes and How They Were Solved

SG 2000 has had to address the following challenges in the establishment and the operation of NietaKenes (5 in Segou and 5 in Sikasso Regions):

Weak motivation of cooperative members to build such infrastructure

The meager returns on investment on farming discouraged producers to spend time and energy to establish a NietaKene. The bumper harvest in 2005 resulted in low prices offered for staple food crops in the early 2006. This discouraged many farmers to invest in farming ventures. Few farmers believed that NietaKene was the solution to the issue of low returns on investment on farming.

Inter Réseaux AFD & CTA (2009) have suggested that, “in order to be effective, farmers and their organizations need to be actors in the initiatives and projects that concern them as they work closely with development actors. Moreover, adequate methods, tools and time are required to communicate and sharing experiences between these different families of actors. Finally, there is a call for preparation and follow-up to maintain the process of development”.  SG 2000 thus found it necessary to undertake a series of sensitization and demonstrations in target villages to achieve its goals. Further training and demonstrations followed to support the process.

Weak postharvest handling skills

Prior to the establishment of NietaKenes, farm products were stored wherever possible without any consideration to the effect of moisture and pests on quality of grains. Therefore, most of the products marketed were not of good quality. Moreover, all farmers sold products mainly to retailers only at weekly markets.  The demonstrations received by farmers on the use of millet threshers, maize Shellers, rice decorticators and grain cleaners at NietaKenes improved the postharvest practices and allowed producers to send good quality grains to market. National cereal stock exchanges were also used to link producer cooperatives to potential buyers such as cereal dealers, agro-processors, WFP Purchase for progress project and seed dealers.   

Capacity building and sustainability

Formerly, the collaboration between SG 2000 and the cooperatives focused mainly on the demonstration of technologies and group work. The establishment of NietaKenes has led to the cooperatives becoming more and more business oriented. After completion of the initial infrastructure (cereal banks and marketing stores), cooperative management committees receive training on grain conditioning and business enterprise development. The lessons from the training are applied during national seed and cereal stock exchanges. The cooperatives also use the existing infrastructure and equipment to provide services to other farmers at a cost. The infrastructure and equipment provided could therefore be said to have generated income and profit for NietaKenes.

The sale of products occasionally and individually by partners formally created a situation that did not favor smooth running and operations of infrastructure and equipment. Consequently, the sustainability of the operations of NietaKenes became an issue. To ensure the sustainability of NietaKenes, management committees were sensitized on service delivery and income generation with existing assets throughout the year. Managers were expected to be engaged by NietaKenes to run each facility as real agro industry enterprises. 


Factors Contributing to the Success of NietaKenes

Storage capacity

The stores installed in the NietaKenes have improved the capacity of members to sell their produce in bulk and together. The bulk storage has created market for products and opportunity for members to negotiate for prices.  At least 50 per metric ton of grain are sold each year together through the National Cereal and Seed Stock Exchanges, the ‘warrantage’ system, the P4P project, and direct contract with cereal dealers since the establishment of the ten NietaKenes in 2007. Table 1 shows the quantity of grains sold through the National Cereal and Seed Stock Exchange from 2007 to 2009.    

Access to financial resources

The African Development Bank (BAD - 2005) stated that “access to credit and to other financial services is a determinant factor in improving the livelihood of subsistent farmer population in the agricultural sector”. The storage capacity and marketing opportunities provided to members of Nietakenes enabled them to attract an and easily access credit from financial institutions like the Malian Bank of Solidarity (BMS), the National Agricultural Development Bank (BNDA), Kafo Jiginew and Kondo Jigima. Managing committees are thus able to pre-finance members and wait for the appropriate time to market farm products.

Market access

The use of equipment at NietaKene has improved the quality of grains and subsequently attracted more and more potential buyers. Members received premium prices from sales of grains as compared to other producers in the surrounding villages. DANAYA, a well-known agro processor in Bamako, and the P4P project respectively paid CFA francs 10,000 and 20,250 as premiums per MT to members. This is mainly due to the quality products delivered on time to these companies.


Table 1: Quantity of Grains sold yearly by NietaKenes through the National Cereals Stock Exchanges

 Main commodities

Quantities (MT)

2007

2008

2009

Millet

172

4

378.3

Sorghum

68

2

145

Maize

375

183.5

152.9

Rice

22

153

614

 Total

637.0

189.5

676.2    

Source: SG 2000 Mali field data


Improved marketing skills and income

Improved product marketing is a key factor to increased farmer revenue” (Inter Réseaux AFD & CTA, 2009), hence the need to devote high priority to marketing activities. The training received at NietaKenes has improved the negotiating skills of the cooperatives. The potential to safely store quality grains for a long period of time couple with access to credit have put producers at NietaKene in positions to bargain and obtain better prices for products. The result is that producers with above competencies and skills are able to get better prices through collective marketing. Better prices mean better income leading to better livelihood of members. For example, during the first National Cereal Stock Exchange, held in Bamako in 2006, the price of maize moved from US$ 180 to US $220 per metric ton. Rain fed crop prices thus experienced a significant rise (Table 2).


Table 2: Annual incomes generated in NietaKenes through sales at national Cereals Stock Exchanges

Main  commodities

Amounts (CFA francs)

2007

2008

2009

Millet

21,500,000

600,000

51,070,500

Sorghum

7,820,000

250,000

18,125,000

Maize

46,875,000

23,855,000

19,878,625

Rice

6,600,000

45,900,000

184,200,000

 Total

82,795,000

70,605,000

273,274,125

Source: SG 2000 Mali Field data

NB: Reduction in 2008 value is the result of the poor harvest due to rain shortage during 2007 rainy season


Lessons Learned That Could be Applied Somewhere Else

The experiences of NietaKenes have clearly demonstrated that, the provision of basic infrastructure and postharvest equipment that is managed by well trained and committed leaders at the village level could be the real engine for economic development and growth. Therefore, to achieve any real development in Malian agriculture, producers may need to acquire basic post-harvest equipment and knowledge. Such kind of information and requirements could be easily acquired in the NietaKenes and replicated at the village level for the overall economic growth of Mali.


References

  • Inter Réseaux AFD & CTA (2009). Market Access and Agricultural Product Marketing: Promoting Farmer Initiatives Insights from the Working Group on “Market access and agricultural product marketing” (page 9), collective work edited by A. Lothoré and P. Delmas (Eds), (NDwww.inter-reseaux.org), © Inter-réseaux Développement rural, CTA, 2009
  • Banque Africaine de Développement (2005), Note sur l’expérience de la banque africaine de développement sur le crédit agricole et la micro-finance (Page 2), Document élaboré à partir du rapport de Groupe de travail sur le Crédit Agricole et de la Micro-finance de la BAD.
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