National rice farmers' organisations in Mali and Burkina Faso are supplying schools and public institutions with sustainable, high-quality rice, creating new local synergies that benefit farmers and consumers alike, and lobbying governments to formalise institutional market exchanges.
Mali is the second largest rice producer in West Africa after Nigeria. Rice accounts for 30% of total cereal production in the country and represents 5% of GDP (CPS/SDR, 2021). On the contrary, Burkina Faso's rice production is estimated at 0.31% of GDP, but only 1/5 of the land suitable for production is used (PNSR II 2016). Market opportunities remain to be exploited. Despite the differences, both countries share a common challenge: they can't meet their internal demand for rice.
Rice has become a strategic economic crop, and the governments of both countries have prioritised policies to promote the domestic market. However, public agricultural subsidies don't always translate into higher yields and/or better incomes for farmers because the links between farmers' organisations and the market are too weak. L'Initiative Riz (The Rice Initiative), launched by the Malian government in 2008, did not place enough emphasis on commercialising production.
We have therefore supported the national rice platforms UNPR-B (National Union of Rice Producers of Burkina) and PNPR-M (National Umbrella Organisation of Rice Producers in Mali) to access institutional markets.
In 2016, PNPR-M signed a contract with CSA/OPAM (Food Security Committee / Office of Agricultural Products of Mali) to replenish the national food security reserves for more than €2 million. In 2015, UNPR-B farmers' organisations sold 7,000 tonnes to the Ministry of Education (MENA) for the benefit of school canteens in three regions. As a result, a decree (Arrêté n°2017-002/PM/CAB) was issued by the Prime Minister in favour of local production, stating that "State structures such as school and university canteens, vocational training centres, military barracks, hospitals and prisons, among others, must give priority to the purchase of local products for their food supply".
State structures such as school and university canteens, vocational training centres, military barracks, hospitals and prisons, among others, must give priority to the purchase of local products for their food supply
Arrêté n°2017-002/PM/CAB | Prime Minister - Burkina Faso
Despite these achievements, manychallenges remain to be met:
To strengthen the role of PNPR-M and UNPR-B in their respective markets:
It can be very difficult for farmers' associations to identify and assess farmers' rice stocks because they are scattered over a large production area. We'll create a stock database by equipping and training farmers to collect and transfer data to a free data collection tool. Having accurate statistics on stock availability will facilitate negotiations between farmer organisations and their clients. As the data is analysed beforehand, negotiations are conducted on a more objective and transparent basis. Data collection will also facilitate the establishment of a traceability system, which will facilitate quality control management.
In Mali, we're focusing on building banking relationships so that farmer organisations can access credit in time to build their stocks. Trials have shown that timely access to credit is essential for the success of institutional purchasing by farmer organisations.
In Burkina Faso, we're also organising capacity building to strengthen cooking skills. School cooks often don't know the right techniques for cooking local rice and turn to imported rice.
We support the unions to persuade governments to take more permanent measures to promote local rice. For example, making the Burkinabe decree a permanent measure and ensuring access to institutional markets for school canteens. We will do this by facilitating dialogue and sharing advocacy efforts on multi-stakeholder platforms with other actors in the rice value chain. We'll also capitalise on our experience and raise the visibility of the initiative through public conferences, workshops and technical notes on project results.
One of the key objectives of Rikolto's global rice strategy is to promote sustainable farming practices through the use of the SRP standard. In Burkina Faso, we trained 30 future trainers in SRI and PPU techniques, who in turn shared their knowledge with another 300 farmers. Likewise, in 2020, PNPR-M focused its training on lowland and rainfed systems, which are mostly managed by women and young people.
Overall, the interests of farmers' organisations are better taken into account in contracts, and umbrella organisations have become more reliable partners in the eyes of institutional buyers. Indeed, institutional procurement promotes dialogue between actors and strengthens the legitimacy of the umbrella organisation in the sector as a whole.