Burkina Faso’s Rice Industry Transforms Farmers’ Lives
Ouattara Kalifa, a Burkinabe farmer, today owns three motorcycles and several mobile phones, items he could only dream of six years ago. His ability to purchase these prestigious items is linked to his participation in a seed rice cultivation project by the Neema Agricole Du Faso (NAFASO), a local seed company and a key partner of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The network of NAFASO farmers, including Kalifa, now produce more than 3,116 tons of seed rice annually from 1,371 hectares, from which the farmers make an average of $1,800 per hectare.
“There has been a real improvement in my livelihood,” Kalifa said.
NAFASO’s association with AGRA has helped transform the company into a competitive business earning over $2 million per year.
“My partnership with AGRA has made me the businessperson I am today. I have benefited a lot from the training and technical support AGRA has provided, and it has enabled me to more efficiently operate this large and growing seed company,” said NAFASO founder, Abdoulaye Sawadogo.
Meanwhile, farmers using the improved seeds from NAFASO are reporting increased rice yields, from an initial 3.5 ton/hectare to the current 5.5 ton/hectare.
Yet, investments in inputs are just one of the ways that have supported the transformation of Burkina Faso’s rice industry. In a country with an annual rice consumption of 520,000 tons, AGRA and other partners have helped increase domestic production by supporting policy development plans by the Government of Burkina Faso (GoBF).
"H.E. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore’s government is making great progress in its plans to reach a production level of 1 million metric tons of paddy rice per year, and to ensure all school age children get at least one balanced meal per day. Together with other partners, AGRA will continue to support these two flagship projects, as they now feature in the main development agenda of the country's agricultural sector," H.E. Dessalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and AGRA Board Chair said on a recent trip to Burkina Faso.
The GoBF’s “One Million” rice initiative, for instance, has led to the installation of regulatory structures to increase rice production fourfold to 1 million tons by the year 2025. The project will develop hydro-agriculture infrastructure, intensive agriculture, in-country processing and enhanced market access.
In the project, AGRA supported the GoBF to gather evidence and ensure accountability and quality-focused execution by investing $250,000 in building an evidence base to support the consultative process that brought in perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders.
This flagship program has now grown to be an investment promotion tool for enticing private sector interest in the rice subsector. The GoBF has already used the initiative to leverage more than $500 million in rice production and marketing through key development partners, such as the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank.
In recent years, the GoBF struggled to attract the necessary investments to boost domestic rice production. This is because earlier rice ecosystem strategic priorities and development targets were ambiguous and consisted of numerous, highly fragmented, donor-led projects being implemented in silos.
Following the support, and with the strengthening of the One Million rice initiative, it is projected that Burkina Faso’s rice imports will reduce by 75% after the production of 800,000 metric tons of milled rice per annum, leading to increased incomes and food security for 119,000 households.
So far, at least 88,500 farmers have been reached through nine private sector players to develop 15,500 hectares (more than 33% of the total target) of land to support the implementation of the program.