In the last decade, the Government of Benin has set up a number of strategic frameworks that place agriculture at the centre of the country’s development and contribute to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) objectives.
The overall objective of these is to improve Benin’s agricultural performance to a level that ensures food sovereignty, contributes to the socioeconomic development of the country, and achieves sustainable poverty reduction.
A fundamental guiding principle is the establishment of public-private partnerships for agricultural development.
The focus is on the development of 13 agricultural sectors: maize, rice, cassava, yams, cotton, pineapple, cashew, palm oil, vegetables, meat, milk, eggs, and fish and shrimp.
Convening of the Pineapple Working Group to facilitate connections between the private sector, government and donors;
Launch of the Agribusiness Group – a cross sector agri-business platform.
A total of 26 companies have signed letters of intent (LOI) in Benin totalling US$378 million. All are committed to improving food security and nutrition. These LOI companies primarily represent the following sectors: cashew nuts, pineapples, vegetables, and aquaculture.
LOI companies have so far invested $64 million, creating almost 7,000 jobs and reaching nearly 850,000 smallholders, predominantly through input products and services, financial or data services and through training. Of the 26 LOIs, seven are international and 19 domestic.
International LOI companies include Swiss Re in the finance sector, and the African Cashew Initiative, while domestic LOIs include Entreprises Territoires et Development (ETD), focusing on rice soya and honey, and Sotracom, focusing on milk and yoghurt production.
Grow Africa has convened a pineapple working group to support private investments aimed at developing the value chain.This group is working towards a value chain gap analysis through which to assess opportunities and identify resources to open up bottlenecks.
Value chains with special economic importance are cashew nut, aquaculture and rice. Cashew nuts, in particular, are vital for exports and demand for this product, as well as interest in investing in the sector, has risen markedly in the last few years.
The government has prioritised increasing fish production as domestic consumption is more than double the local production.
Rice is another value chain of critical importance as this crop is a staple food in Benin and also plays a key trading role regionally. Shea butter is another important industry for Grow Africa’s attention, particularly as this crop is an especially large employer of women across the value chain.
Further priorities in Benin include:
Evaluating and initiating a multi-stakeholder platform for the rice value chain with strategic partners ECOWAS, AfricaRice and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Formalising the multi-stakeholder pineapple working group platform, with a focus on smallholders.