Focus on the agricultural value chain and food security of Indénié-Djuablin in Côte d’Ivoire
Friday, September 18, 2015 will be remembered as a landmark date in Côte d’Ivoire for the state visit paid by the Ivorian President and a truly special Council of Ministers held in Abengourou (in Indénié-Djuablin region, in the centre-east of the country). What’s more, the meeting approved a progress report on implementation of the project to support agricultural infrastructure in the Indénié-Djuablin region (PAIA-ID).
The events of September 18 mark the importance for the country and for life in this area, with its population of 561,000, of a 6,900 km2 project led by the African Development Bank since June 2012 with the goal of supporting the development of lowlands, rural roads, markets and storage facilities, among other objectives. The project provides support to improve the living conditions of the population of the region.
The project has a duration of five years at an overall cost of 21.6 million units of account (14.5 billion CFA francs). Its goal is to improve food security and reduce poverty levels. Although endowed with enormous agricultural potential – coffee, cocoa, rubber, vegetables and foodstuffs – Indénié-Djuablin, whose slogan is Gbôklè, the most beautiful region in Côte d’Ivoire, faces a sharp deterioration of its production and marketing infrastructure. This area, which once specialised in rubber cropping, has to deal with recurring food security problems.
Fortunately, rainfed food crop production has come to the rescue, because its development has undergone a recovery in the region, particularly in the southern area (Bétié), arousing the enthusiasm of women and youth. It must be said that this part of Côte d’Ivoire has come a long way. The reason for this was a “gold rush” in the region which favoured rubber production. The lucrative rubber crop had started to hurt food production in areas such as Agnibilékrou, which quickly became the rubber capital. In addition, rubber tree cultivation repeated over nearly 50 years and the reuse of soil impoverished by such intensive cultivation (500 to 600 rubber trees per hectare) over hundreds of hectares eventually made food production problematic in certain areas.
Through the AfDB project, some 1,712 direct jobs have been created. With respect to water, the construction of 40 equipped boreholes, eight improved village water systems and the refurbishment of 100 boreholes are also underway.
With the changes brought about by the project, market gardening and rainfed crops were favoured, adding value over the whole value chain. To achieve this, PAIA-ID is based on three components: the development of agricultural infrastructure, capacity building and project management.
The main goals targeted are the development of 923 hectares of lowlands for irrigated rice cultivation and market garden products, and the refurbishment of 620 km of rural roads to improve transport and remove the isolation of production areas.
The refurbishment of rural roads will revitalise the rural economy of the region by facilitating the flow of agricultural production to the capitals of the departments (Abengourou and Agnibélékrou) and to Abidjan, the economic capital and its port.
65% of commitments delivered
At the half-way point, the project, which will be completed in February 2018, has delivered 65% of its commitments and the disbursement rate is 45%. Seventy per cent (518 km) of the rural roads refurbishments have been completed. Some 292 hectares of lowlands have been developed and are now productive, to the delight of farmers.
Twenty per cent of the markets have been built and 10 markets and 11 stores are under construction. The coffee and cocoa sectors have benefited from the provision of quality improvement kits to 20 cooperatives, who have also been provided with cocoa drying infrastructure. This has led to one immediate benefit: that products are no longer being returned from the port for being of insufficient quality, after undergoing strict compliance checks. This has no mean impact on the incomes of farmers, who are consequently seeing their earnings increase. Foodstuffs have generated 609.8 million CFA francs for producers.
With regard to rainfed crops, 95 of producers’ groups, including 35 women’s groups, are benefiting from extending the use of fertilizer. Specifically, the project has overseen the distribution of 1,740 kg of maize seed, (63.75 ha sown), 500,000 cassava of cuttings (50 ha) and 35,000 of plantain (21 ha).
An extra 3,982 tonnes of foodstuffs produced
Production of foodstuffs has increased by 3,982 tonnes. The project has also been a job opportunity for young people of the region and from other regions of Côte d'Ivoire. As a result, some 1,712 direct jobs have been created. With respect to water, the construction of 40 equipped boreholes, eight improved village water systems and the refurbishment of 100 boreholes is under way.
Furthermore, within the broader framework of the strengthening of agri-business in West Africa, the project will benefit from additional funding from the Nigeria Trust Fund amounting to 4 million UA (approximately 3.4 billion CFA francs) to consolidate its impact on development. The Indénié-Djuablin project has, in fact, been selected as part of an action plan for projects currently ongoing in the sub-region to strengthen transformation and transportation.
Strengthened capacity of government bodies: guaranteed impact
The project, by design, can only benefit from a strong impact if the capacities of these involved are strengthened. And this is exactly what is happening. Effective support is provided to the technical partners involved in project implementation, including AGEROUTE, the highways management agency, for the rural roads component. Other bodies are also supported by the project to support agricultural infrastructure in the Indénié-Djuablin region. These are the National Office for Development of Rice Cultivation; the National Agency for Rural Development, Land Management and Human Water Uses; the Office to Support the Marketing of Food Products; and the Regional Directorate of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Technical services are also being provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, which offers material resources and specialised training.
Ultimately, all the measures put into place should have a significant and lasting impact in the short- and medium-terms on all these institutional structures of the state.