Bobo-Dioulasso, BURKINA FASO—The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) is awarding $1 million to seed company Neema Agricole du Faso (NAFASO), based in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. The grant and private sector partnership with NAFASO that it facilitates will boost rice production in Burkina Faso, an effort key to improving food security in the country.
The consistent availability of white rice is tied to the food security of Burkinabe and other West African populations, who rely significantly on this staple crop. Yet while white rice consumption has increased by 15 percent annually among new and regular rice consumers in West Africa, the local production of white rice does not cover the needs of the region’s population. Contributing factors to unmet demand for white rice include the absence of mechanized rice production and the poor quality of agricultural inputs such as seeds. These challenges result in low rice yields and significant income loss for farmers while increasing countries’ dependence on imported white rice imports, which can easily halt in times of socio-political conflicts and other crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the partnership, NAFASO will use its own resources to implement a number of activities. For example, it will add 3,600 paddy rice farmers and 60 seed producers to its existing network of experienced smallholders in areas targeted for increased rice production in Burkina Faso. In line with the Trade Hub’s goal of ensuring equitable access to opportunities in agriculture, the majority of the new smallholders will be women and youth. NAFASO will provide them with agricultural inputs (such as fertilizers), land, and training on modern techniques for cultivation, storage, and conservation.
NAFASO will also enter into contracts with these 3,660 farmers to ensure that it has a steady supply of rice products. This will allow farmers to have a guaranteed buyer and a steady income.
A portion of the U.S. investment will be used to build a rice processing and packaging facility in Bobo-Dioulasso. Once operational, it will provide employment and livelihood opportunities to more than a thousand people in the rice value chain, including distributors in the region.
“Part of the Trade Hub’s objectives is to help ensure food security in the region. Increasing the amount of rice produced and processed locally is key to meeting this objective,” said Michael Clements, Trade Hub’s Chief of Party.
As a result of this project, NAFASO expects to ultimately create more than 15,600 new jobs within the rice value chain. NAFASO also expects at least $21 million in sales to be generated over the duration of the project, including $1,861,206 in sales linked to regional rice exports in West Africa, contributing towards food security in the region.
“The partnership with the Trade Hub aims to strengthen our economic position in Burkina Faso and other countries in the region,” says Abdoulaye Sawadogo, Chief Executive Officer at NAFASO. “It builds on existing resources, infrastructure, and capacity to reinforce the quality and availability of rice produced, processed, and marketed locally. The project will also generate employment opportunities throughout the rice value chain.”
About West Africa Trade & Investment Hub: The West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) is a USAID-funded initiative that catalyzes economic growth through co-investing with the private sector to generate new investment, create new jobs, and increase the value of regional and international exports in West Africa.
About USAID: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S.
Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
About NAFASO: NAFASO is a private seed company based in Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso. It specializes in the production and distribution of improved quality seeds at affordable costs for smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso, as well as in other West African countries.