Benin's pineapple sector set to take off

Following the launch of the first inclusive pineapple Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) in Benin by Grow Africa in September 2017, Grow Africa and IDH held a validation workshop on the market opportunities for the commercial production of pineapple in Benin conducted by Dalberg Consulting.  

The meeting brought together officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, research institutes, the Agency for Investments Promotion, various NGOs, technical and financial partners, as well as members of the pineapple Multi-Stakeholder Platform. 

The business case study offers fresh insights into the commercialisation and investment opportunities that exist for the pineapple sector which, if adequately exploited would help the sector to expand its market both regionally and internationally in the medium term, with a target to generate a total of $213 million and create 3500 new jobs by 2025. 

On issues of inclusivity, Benin’s smallholder farmers, can also play a critical role in reaching the crop’s growth potential with a government target of 600,000 tons by 2025. The study therefore notes the inhibiting factors to growth within the smallholder farmers’ space. More importantly, it identifies levers that could raise smallholder farmers’ financially - which include access to homogenous sprouts and specific fertilisers to reach optimum yields as well as providing more capital to invest in good agricultural practices. The establishment of a pineapple sector funding facility is one of the innovative recommendations stemming from the study. 

The overall purpose would be to target investments into the pineapple sector, provide working capital loans to smallholder farmers as well as the provision of technical assistance.  

Ms Bertille Guedegbe Marcos, President of the pineapple MSP in Benin delivered the welcome address wherein she noted that the finalisation of the study marked an important milestone in the advancement of the pineapple sector in Benin.

For Mr Ibrahim Gourouza-Magagi, Grow Africa’s Head of West and Central Africa, “The pineapple sector in Benin is a gold mine that is underexploited.” He also welcomed this milestone which will lead to the establishment of an investment and innovation fund to develop the entire value chain. 

Also present at the workshop was Ms Françoise Assogba Komlan, Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture, who in her address stated that the study will help improve the competitiveness of pineapple from Benin. She also reiterated the commitment of the Government to working together with Grow Africa and IDH in Benin. 

The results and recommendations of the business case study were well received by all the participants who also made additional inputs centred on identifying the key working areas to further strengthen the pineapple sector such as: Access to quality inputs, certification, access to land, sustainability of farms, increasing local processing capacities of fresh pineapples, packaging and improvement of air cargo logistics. The workshop culminated in the validation of the study by all participants. 

Moving forward, the validated report will be utilised to raise funds. The funds will be utilised to firstly set up a three year horticulture development and market led approach project geared to supporting SME’s, farmers, traders and government institutions, particularly to improve technical ability, productivity, quality and food safety. Secondly, they will be used to set up a $20 million fund for grants co-funding, i.e. for inputs, CAPEX, working capital and de-risking loans.