A business model developed by women for women

A story from the heart of Burkina Faso’s rice supply chain transformation

A woman voicing her opinion in a cooperative meeting

Burkina Faso’s quest for rice self-sufficiency

Over the past two decades, rice consumption has nearly tripled in Burkina Faso1, making rice a staple food for its people. However, with only 36%2 of the demand met by domestic production, Burkina Faso is heavily reliant on rice imports. The result? Rice stands as the nation’s most imported cereal (OEC, 2020), casting a shadow on Burkina Faso’s aspirations for self-sufficiency and food security. In addition, huge foreign exchange is needed to import rice, contributing to depreciation of the local currency. These figures show that the rice sector represents a major strategic and economic challenge for the country.

Amidst this complex situation, opportunities emerge from vast underexploited lowlands3, covering 500,000 hectares, but there are political and structural barriers that need to be navigated. Burkina Faso’s latest Rice Development Strategy NRDS II (2021/2030) set an ambitious goal: a steady crescendo of production culminating in 3 million tonnes of rice production by 20304. This commitment was underscored in 2017 with a pledge to prioritise local products for public provision5.

The fertile fields of Burkina Faso present both challenges and opportunities for the rice sector. They offer the possibility of a future where rice is not merely a crop but a symbol of resilience and self-reliance.

1. Burkina Faso’s average per capita rice consumption is estimated at 36 kg in 2021 (USDA, GAIN 2021)

2. Donnée Direction de la statistique et de la prospective agricole, 2019.

3. Only 200,000 ha are cultivated for rainfed and irrigated rice. EPA, 2018.

4. As well as 400,000 ha of irrigation systems, 32,000 MT of improved seeds, 64,000 MT of urea and 95,000 MT of NPK made available to producers. (USDA, GAIN 2021)

5. 2017 on the procurement of local food products by state structures.


Parboiling: an expression of resilience and women’s empowerment

In the heart of Burkina Faso, our story unfolds on the rice plains where an extraordinary transformation is taking place, led by women. Nearly half6 of the country’s rice production undergoes the age-old practice of parboiling. This meticulous process elevates ordinary rice to a treasure trove of nutrients.

The journey begins with a careful selection of paddy grains, which are then soaked in water so that they swell and absorb moisture. Subsequently, women steam the paddy, gently heating and parboiling it. This process imparts the rice with a pale golden colour and firmness, while preserving essential vitamins and minerals typically lost during traditional milling. Known for its distinctive aroma, non-clumping nature and flavour-absorbing capabilities, this rice is also rich in fibre and boasts a lower glycaemic index, making it suitable for people with diabetes.

In the past, prior to the structural adjustment plans implemented by most African countries in the 1990s, rice commercialisation and distribution were managed by government entities. However, the liberalisation of the rice trade flooded the market with cheap imported rice, leaving farmers without buyers and placing the local rice sector in jeopardy. In a remarkable response to this crisis, the women within these communities stepped in to purchase paddy and use it to make parboiled rice, saving the local rice chain from collapse. They then organised themselves into women’s parboiling cooperatives, with nine of these cooperatives coming together in 2010 to form the National Union of Parboiling Women (UNERIZ). Their collective mission has been to promote locally sourced, fresh and nutritious Burkinabe parboiled rice, effectively revitalising and safeguarding the local rice industry.

Seizing opportunities amidst challenges

Just as a coin always has two sides, every challenge is always accompanied by an opportunity. Once considered a luxury, rice is now firmly established as a household staple. As the population continues to grow, so does rice consumption. This shift, combined with policies favouring local rice, has opened new horizons for parboilers.

Once primarily destined for rural markets, parboiled rice is now targeting urban spaces, including urban vendor and markets, restaurants and institutional markets like schools and public catering. UNERIZ, offering rice less than three months old, gains a competitive edge in terms of value over long-stored, imported rice stocks. Their rice is not only fresher but also boasts a superior nutrient profile compared to white rice, making it a healthier choice.

With the growing demand, UNERIZ faces challenges in keeping up. The production capacity of its members is estimated to be three times greater than the output of the cooperatives’ collective parboiling centres. What are the obstacles hampering this potential?

• Ensuring consistent, high-quality supply of paddy.

• Dealing with limited financial resources that hinder profitable and developmental investments.

• Overcoming the lack of proper equipment to scale production. The parboiling centres of each cooperative, where women gather to access better parboiling equipment and finish the product, are too small to serve all the women who want to use them (350 on average). Therefore, many women parboil from home without adequate infrastructure and tools, affecting product quality and therefore pricing.

Moreover, layers of inequality add to the complexity of these challenges. Gender disparities hinder access to essential services such as technical training and market information. In addition, weak and non-inclusive trading relationships between actors in the supply chain exacerbate the barriers UNERIZ faces. How can these structural issues be addressed? How has UNERIZ faced these challenges?

6. National Institute of Statistics and Demography (INSD), 2022


A new and inspiring business model unveiled

In 2017, the partnership between Rikolto and UNERIZ marked the inception of a pioneering franchise business model. This model was co-created and conceived to elevate the quality of home-produced parboiled rice, expand production capacities to ensure consistent high-quality rice supply and boost the income of UNERIZ’s women members. The journey began with 40 parboilers from the communes of Bama, Banzon, Douna and Karfiguela to pilot the project.

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Franchise structure

  • The franchisor (UNERIZ): As the franchisor, UNERIZ extends arange of vital services to women parboilers organised into Micro ParboilingEnterprises (MPEs). These services have evolved beyond the collective purchasing of paddy, marketing and agricultural support to encompass access to materials for home parboiling, credit options, training in parboiling techniques and the development of entrepreneurial skills.
  • The franchisee (Micro Parboiling Enterprise – MPE): The MPEs represent units where paddy is processed into parboiled rice, typically consisting of one woman parboiler or a small group of women parboilers.
  • GIE-PROMETRIS: The “Groupement d’Intérêt Économique de Promotion de l’Étuvage du Riz de Qualité Supérieure” is the economic branch of UNERIZ, a dedicated team that oversees the business side of UNERIZ and manages the franchise business model.
  • Finishing and Distribution Centre (FDC)*: A centre that collects the parboiled rice from MPE, processesit with standardised final product processing (professional milling, gradingand sorting, quality control, packaging) and ensures that high-quality rice reaches consumers through collective marketing.
  • The parboiling centres*: This is the physical place where the parboilers who are members of a parboiling cooperative carry out the parboiling process when they do not have the equipment at their home workshops. The limited capacity of the centre prevents members from working more than a day or two per year, there by limiting the income generating potential.

* The FDC and GIE-PROMETRIS will be fully operational once they receive the final investment foreseen for 2024.

Chapter 1 – A woman’s journey

When a woman parboiler enters a franchisee contract with UNERIZ, she embarks on a transformative journey of personal and professional growth. This journey involves training, developing a business plan and making a financial investment in her parboiling enterprise. She grows into a businesswoman, taking full responsibility of her own business.

The franchisee commits to investing her own funds in the purchase of new equipment for parboiling quality rice at home. Private companies, TechnicPropuls and GrainPro, played vital roles in supplying two technological innovations to women: solar dryers and a stainless-steel oven kit, designed in collaboration with UNERIZ members. The oven allows women parboilers to steam 100 kg of rice at once, more than doubling their steaming capacity (with increases of up to 250%). The solar dryers significantly reduce the drying time from 24 hours to 6–8 hours and protect the rice from contamination.

The parboiling centre, once merely a place for parboiling, transforms into a hub for learning and improvement. Here, a woman parboiler enhances her sorting, shelling and drying processes while experimenting with business management. In fact, although UNERIZ facilitates collective purchases, the woman parboiler still handles negotiations individually when the offer of quality paddy on the market is limited. She engages with rice producers to negotiate prices and discusses contract terms with service providers and transporters, safeguarding her interests. In a word she develops an entrepreneurial spirit.

Women used to do a lot of social work without knowing if it was profitable. Now, thanks to the development of their entrepreneurial spirit, they are able to draw up business accounts and negotiate with financial institutions and producers to obtain a remunerative price on the market.

Alimatou Ouedraogo

The permanent secretary of UNERIZ in Bobo

As her skills improve, so does her self-esteem, making her an example for younger women to look up to. She takes on increasing responsibilities within her community, welcomes internally displaced people, coaches newcomers on the parboiling process, organises fairs and public events and raises awareness about the consumption of healthy and sustainable rice.

Chapter 2 – Healthy meals powered by a healthy business model

The parboiling franchise does not only mean good business for the women parboilers, it also has a positive impact on consumers and the environment. Through UNERIZ, franchisees commit to sourcing paddy produced following sustainable practices. Around 40% of the paddy is supplied by farmers who are members of the Union of Rice Producers of Burkina Faso (UNPRB). This farmers’ union, with the support of Rikolto, promotes the adoption of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standard. The UNPRB rewards farmers as they progress in complying with the environmental, economic and social sustainability criteria of the SRP standard by facilitating access to high-value markets such as the parboiling franchise. Moreover, UNERIZ provides rice producers with additional benefits such as access to credit to make the necessary investments in sustainable rice production practices.

The women parboilers also play their part by adopting sustainable practices that minimise their impact on the environment. They replace traditional wood fires with rice-hull briquettes, practice efficient water management, recycle ash to produce organic fertiliser for paddy cultivation and even plant trees in their localities.

Sourcing sustainable rice and producing sustainably is not just about preserving the environment but also about ensuring the safety of the food that ultimately reaches consumers’ tables. As the age-old saying goes, “we are what we eat”: there is an important connection between the quality of our food and our well-being. Sustainable rice cultivation practices, such as organic farming and integrated pest management, significantly reduce reliance on harmful pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Creating a business model that fosters sustainable rice production and parboils healthy paddy to the liking of consumers is therefore a key step in ensuring that affordable, nutritious and healthy rice can be served in Burkinabe households.

Chapter 3 – Inclusive business relations drive win-win solutions

In a landscape where commercial relationships focus on maximising profit at the expense of producers’ needs and requests, such as specific rice varieties or pre-financing options, Rikolto facilitates exchanges between all parties to cover that extra mile. Representatives of UNERIZ collaborate with the UNPRB, the National Association of Rice Traders of Burkina Faso (ANaCoR-BF), transporters, financial institutions and others to shape contracts, protocols and agreements that meet their needs and requirements. The dialogue is built on shared, transparent and reliable market information and genuine consideration for each other’s needs, leading to win-win scenarios.

Women parboilers buy paddy at prices above the market average to obtain high-quality paddy that serves the market taste. This quality premium compensates farmers for their sustainable (SRP) rice production efforts, which are fundamental for obtaining this premium-quality paddy. In return, paddy producers elect parboilers as their preferred commercial partners. Farmers who adhere to the protocols also have access to essential inputs such as fertiliser, certified seeds and credit offered by individual parboilers and/or cooperatives’ parboiling centres.  

Lack of finance is still a major barrier for both farmers and women parboilers. Some traders prefinance the franchisees, facilitating their provision of paddy in exchange for a consistent supply of high-quality parboiled rice for their customers. In line with this dynamic, ANaCoR-BF’s Economic Interest Group, which handles group orders, is considering setting up a pre-financing scheme. During the pilot phase, a revolving loan system was set up with funds from JAFOWA. Women parboilers utilised these loans to buy the parboiling equipment. As the loans are paid back, the fund can be used to finance other franchisees.

Trader’s prefinance and revolving funds cannot meet th'e working capital and investment needs of the parboilers alone, however. To address this, UNERIZ works with local banks, including Coris Bank, Credit Unions and the Agricultural Bank, to provide the parboilers with easier access to credit. As a franchisor, UNERIZ offers women services that reassure financial institutions: women who receive management training, develop a business plan and use accounting tools are viewed as more reliable by banks. In return, financial institutions, eager to build long-term relationships, provide credit management training and tailor credit schemes that meet the needs of franchisees.

The franchise model allows us to support women entrepreneurs who are members of UNERIZ. This is fully in line with the bank’s objective of helping SMEs and PMIs to become a lever for the Burkina Faso economy. And, with the guarantee fund cover, the bank is less at risk.

Issaka Lingani

Head of the Coris Bank Bobo branch

Finally, UNERIZ’s sustainable, high-quality rice is competitively priced in the market. For instance, Orylux rice (the variety commercialised by UNERIZ) is sold between 600 and 650 FCFA/kg, while imported rice of the same variety costs between 700 and 800 FCFA/kg in the local markets and 1,500 to 2,000 FCFA/kg in the supermarkets. Between 2017 and 2022, the price has increased by 22% on average, providing incentives for women parboilers to remain committed and continue rewarding farmers who produce sustainable, high-quality paddy with better prices. Traders and buyers find UNERIZ’s offer appealing, as they can access premium-quality rice while maintaining healthy profit margins. Additionally, they have the option of purchasing directly from the parboiling centres in larger quantities for more budget-friendly but still 100% Burkinabe rice at better prices. Despite the high demand, UNERIZ’s production volume remains small and prevents them from meeting demand year-round.

By taking this holistic approach, the parboiling franchise model fosters a sense of solidarity within the rice value chain. With optimised processes, sustainable and healthy rice finds its way to consumers and its market share is on the rise. Along the way, each actor benefits from the parboiling franchise model, including smallholder farmers, women parboilers and the planet. “Healthy profits” for all open the door to elevating this model to new levels.

The implementation of the projecthas yielded remarkable results, with the net income of the parboiling womenmore than doubling. In addition, UNERIZ itself has experienced significantgrowth, with a remarkable 127% increase in net income from 2021 to 2022. Thesefinancial gains not only underscore the potential of the project but alsohighlight the resounding success of empowering women in the rice value chain*.

Michel Tougma

Programme Managerin Burkina Faso

* UNERIZ net income: 10,868,352 FCFA (16,557 euro) in 2021 of which 5.7% comingfrom sales (619 euro); 24,703,068 FCFA (37,633 euro) in 2022 of which 10.9%coming from sales (4,101 euro) | Franchisee net income: 262,000–425,000 FCFAbefore 2017 (average 343,500 FCFA); 480,000–775,000 FCFA in 2018 (average 627,500FCFA); 575,000–1,225,000 FCFA in 2022 (average 900,000

Inclusive business

When we talk about inclusive business, we mean serious business. It’s all about doing business with a long-term outlook, fulfilling the needs of farmers and buyers alike. At Rikolto, we use the LINK methodology developed by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (now Alliance Biodiversity & CIAT) and other organisations within the Sustainable Food Lab to guide our efforts to foster more inclusive food chains and business models.

Find out more about our inclusive business principles.

Scaling: ensuring lasting impact

This business model has given rise to a sustainable investment financing model. It has provided essential technical capacity-building services in parboiling and entrepreneurship, introduced ecological practices and facilitated the marketing of high-quality parboiled rice, all while demonstrating its profitability. However, the journey is far from over.

The recent COVID pandemic resulted in rice stock shortages due to the disruption of the logistics chain and limited access to cities. Surprisingly, the pandemic reinforced and bolstered the franchising business model. Only franchised women were able to continue their home parboiling business unhindered by quarantine measures and grouping restrictions. It also highlighted the need for a more robust local paddy supply. Indeed, beyond the crisis, the year-round availability of high quality and sustainably produced paddy is not guaranteed, to the extent that women parboilers prefer to supply individually and guarantee the best product for themselves rather than opting for a collective purchase. To ensure the enduring impact of this model, overseeing the process over an extended period is crucial, and expanding the involvement of more parboilers and farmers is imperative.

Tapping into existing markets

While UNERIZ’s parboiled rice production has seen significant growth, unlocking the full potential of Burkina Faso’s market demands requires strategic steps. UNERIZ has already established its product under the label “Mielleux”, which is recognisable and synonymous with quality. Recognition through NBF (National Certification Mark) certification and BIO certification via the Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) is in the pipeline.

However, to maintain its leadership in rice parboiling in Burkina Faso and increase its share of the private market, UNERIZ needs to make its Finishing and Distribution Centre (FDC) operational. This centre holds the key to refining rice quality before it reaches the market, enhancing both consistency and higher quality. The challenge ahead involves mobilising the necessary economic resources, including investments in technologies like optical sorters, which can significantly boost both quality and quantity.

Smallholder farmers and SMEs often lack access to the financing needed to grow their business in the longer term. This is where Kampani comes in: a social impact investment fund with a purpose-driven investment strategy, co-founded by Rikolto. UNERIZ has applied for and is likely to receive an investment from Kampani for its FDC. Read the recent article “Impact Investing for the Missing Middle in Agri-Finance” to find out more…

…Kampani’s investment strategy

Additionally, thanks to a collaborative partnership with the research institute IRSAT, which provided the recipes and manuals, women have ventured into developing and commercialising rice products such as flour and couscous. This diversification strategy opens up new market opportunities.

Another promising avenue is building a strategic partnership with the Consumers’ League to promote parboiled rice consumption in major cities, as well as in rural and urban educational institutions. By supplying school canteens, public institutions and military barracks, UNERIZ can also indirectly influence a wider consumer base within households, facilitating a shift in food habits.

The last piece of the puzzle: an enabling environment

Collective action involving various food system stakeholders creates an enabling environment for shaping the transformation of an entire sector. Rikolto and UNERIZ have shared the insights gleaned from the project’s pilot phase with partner organisations, investors, financial institutions and government representatives in workshops and field visits. They have actively engaged in multi-stakeholder dialogues and earned recognition as valuable contributors to the development of the sector.

As a result, both Rikolto and Burkina Faso’s interprofessional body CIR-B, of which UNERIZ is a member, were invited to participate in discussions of the new CEDEAO rice strategy and the revised national rice strategy (NRDS 2021–2030). These advocacy endeavours, undertaken in tandem with numerous organisations, yielded increased public support.

Notable outcomes include the integration of sustainability as a key element within one of the four strategic pillars of the NRDS, “sustainable intensification of rice production”, and a significant boost in public spending. The government has allocated a budget of FCFA 22 billion ($36 million) to support the agricultural plan for the 2023/2024 season7, with one of its three components earmarked for the rice sector (for the distribution of improved seeds, mechanisation and new irrigation systems). This is an initiative that is likely to increase paddy production and availability. Another achievement in 2022 was the creation of the National Rice Observatory (ONAR-BF), a new public institution aimed at supporting all stakeholders in the rice sector in improving policy coordination, financing and research to ultimately promote the competitiveness of local rice.

These initiatives have not only elevated the rice sector’s prospects but have also underscored the pivotal role of cooperation in agricultural development.

It is clear that the parboiling franchise model is a rising star on the horizon in West Africa and beyond. This collective action and coordination with key value chain actors, along with the unwavering resilience and determination of the rice producers and women parboilers, will be able to overcome the remaining challenges such as mobilising resources, establishing a strong market presence and formulating more effective policies to entrench sustainable rice as the new standard. Ultimately, this will lead to more prosperity and inclusiveness of the rice value chain, resulting in healthy food, healthy incomes and a healthy planet.

7. Burkina Faso approves a $36 mln plan to boost agricultural production in the 2023/2024 season, Public-Ecofin Agency

The protagonists

Women franchisees

Women members of UNERIZ’s parboiling cooperatives face challenges in their parboiling centres, where they must cope with a rotation system that limits their rice processing capacity. With waits of up to two or three months before their next turn, their ability to produce good volumes and generate significant income is limited. In 2017, 40 women decided to turn things around by participating in a pilot project for a franchising business model initiated by UNERIZ with support from Rikolto. Their goal was clear: to produce higher quality rice at home and sell better rice on the market. Today, the number of franchisees has grown to 400, all operating under the UNERIZ umbrella. They have established formal agreements with UNERIZ, their primary buyer, committing to prioritise the sale of their finest quality rice to them.

Progress of the franchising model from 2017 until 2022

  • Improved parboiling techniques and equipment: They honed their parboiling skills and invested in modern, efficient and high-quality parboiling equipment. This dual approach has elevated the quality of their parboiled rice while increasing their efficiency and competitiveness in the market.
  • Better quality: 100% long grain, natural aroma, Orylux 6 variety rice, free from impurities, is sold on the market. The percentage of broken rice has been reduced from 40% to 15% and the quantity of impurities has plummeted from 20% to 7%, meaning fewer black grains, fewer stones, fewer empty husks and less bran.
  • Increased production capacity: Production capacity has increased from an average of 5–10 tonnes to 25–50 tonnes per year (2022).
  • Remunerative prices: With access to better markets, the franchisee can charge higher prices. The average price per kg has increased by 22% from 325 FCFA/kg (2017) to 395 FCFA/kg (2022). The highest quality rice is sold at 650 FCFA/kg to retailers and 450 FCFA/kg to wholesalers.
  • Time and cost efficiency: Streamlined and modern processes have reduced labour (from 3 days to 1.5/2 days) and production costs (no extra wages for sorting rice and reduced energy costs).
  • Significant net income growth: Between 2018 and 2022, incomes increased by between 20% and 155%. On average the net income of parboiling women has more than doubled with the implementation of the model. This increase in income has allowed women to cover personal health expenses, invest in their children’s education and improve the living conditions of their families.
  • Access to financing: Franchisees gained access to suitable financing for operational needs.
  • Expanded market reach: Franchisees broadened their customer base and sales volume, which increased from an average of 5 (2017) to 26 (2022) tonnes/year per franchisee.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit: The franchisees have embraced entrepreneurship, enhancing their leadership skills, business management knowledge and self-esteem. They plan for the long term, envisioning the creation and development of small and medium-sized enterprises. The COVID crisis has also made non-franchised women realise the importance of professionalisation, as only women with a business registration number were able to access the government’s COVID-19 funds.
  • Employment creation: They employ up to 2–3 other women full-time and 3–5 women part-time.
  • Empowerment: Within their communities and families, they have earned new-found respect. Husbands and neighbours hold them in higher regard due to their increased assets and contributions to the family income and to the community. In fact, they actively participate in socio-political entities within their localities, for example by welcoming internally displaced people, training newcomers in the parboiling process, organising fairs and public events and raising awareness of the consumption of healthy rice and its sustainability.
  • Sustainable practices: They have learnt and adopted sustainable practices to minimise their impact on the environment, with positive effects on the health and safety of their product.

UNERIZ, the National Organisation of Parboiling Womenin Burkina Faso

Major shift in quality, Competitive pricing, Increased market presence, Crisis resilience, Extended services, Entreprenurial vision, Credibility among members

Historically, rice production in Burkina Faso was a male-dominated domain, with state-controlled parboiling processes and distribution channels. The liberalisation of the rice trade flooded the market with cheap rice, leaving parboilers without buyers and struggling to compete. In response to this challenge, a group of resilient women joined forces in 2010 to establish the National Union of Parboiling Women in Burkina Faso (UNERIZ). UNERIZ, which initially began with 2,700 members organised into 8 cooperative units at provincial and departmental levels, is now an organisation boasting 4,500 women across 12 cooperatives. Their mission is to transform locally sourced paddy into fresh, nutritious parboiled rice and lead their members to conquer the market. UNERIZ also advocates for the integration of women’s concerns into Burkina Faso’s development policies and programs.

What have they gained?

  • Major shift in quality: UNERIZ achieved better parboiled rice quality, meeting consumer demands for quality rice products.
  • Competitive pricing: Collective purchasing of paddy allowed UNERIZ to buy rice at a competitive price.
  • Increased market presence: Through inclusive business relationships, UNERIZ increased the quantity of rice sold. In 2022 they sold 20% more rice compared with 20219.
  • Crisis resilience: During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, import restrictions led consumers to turn to locally produced food. Thanks to its franchising model, UNERIZ met the surging demand for parboiled rice, safeguarding the livelihoods of women parboilers.
  • Extended services: UNERIZ extended its services beyond collective purchasing, marketing and agricultural support to encompass access to materials for home parboiling, credit options, training in parboiling techniques and entrepreneurial skills development.
  • Entrepreneurial vision: The focus has shifted towards implementing the business model and supporting female entrepreneurship.
  • Credibility among members: As a women-led organisation providing comprehensive capacity-building and coaching services, UNERIZ gained credibility and became a driving force for positive change in the rice value chain.

9. 473 tonnes in 2021 and 530 tonnes in 2022.

Paddy suppliers (individual rice growers and cooperatives)

Secure sales contracts, Secure sales contracts, Improved pricing, Varietal development, Sustainable practices

Individual rice growers are the backbone of paddy rice production. They ensure a steady supply of paddy to the women parboilers, either directly or through cooperatives that unite rice growers within communes or departments. These cooperatives not only advocate for their members’ interests but also provide capacity-building services, facilitate group marketing and grant access to essential inputs.

Climate change has brought unpredictable weather patterns, prolonged droughts and destructive floods, putting their crops and yields at risk. The limited access to credit and inadequate use of certified seeds hampers crop productivity and resilience. Achieving consistent high-quality output proved to be a significant challenge. Moreover, excessive use of pesticides and inefficient water management practices strained their finances, deteriorated the soil and placed pressure on limited local resources.

The partnership between UNERIZ and the Union of Rice Producers of Burkina Faso (UNPRB) has underscored the importance of building long-lasting and inclusive collaborations to address the evolving landscape of rice production in Burkina Faso

What have they gained?

  • Secure sales contracts: Paddy suppliers have secured their sales through contracts with the franchised parboilers, ensuring a guaranteed market for their produce.
  • Integrated support services: Farmers have gained access to a collection of integrated services, including training, the supply of certified seeds, fertilisers and credit support provided by UNERIZ and the franchisees. These services empower paddy suppliers to improve their yields and adopt more sustainable farming practices.
  • Improved pricing: They enjoy a 36%9 higher price for their rice, an incentive to continue investing in sustainable rice.
  • Varietal development: UNERIZ’s demand for specific rice varieties has prompted the development of these varieties within farmers’ unions. The introduction of varieties like TS2 and Orylux has improved the overall rice production landscape. Although they do not stand out as the most high-yield varieties, they are highly appreciated by consumers and are the preferred choice over imported varieties, ultimately favouring the development of the local market.
  • Sustainable practices: The adoption of sustainable rice production (SRP) practices has contributed to more environmentally friendly and efficient farming methods. This not only benefits the environment but also ensures the production of a safe product, preserving both their health and the health of the consumers

9. Paddy price increased from 125,000 FCFA/tonne in 2015 to 170,000FCFA/tonne in 2022.


UNERIZ has become an invaluable ally in catering to the rice demands of both traditional and urban markets and the institutional market. Institutional buyers, who make up 60% of UNERIZ’s annual rice production, have come to rely on the union for its unwavering commitment to quality. One noteworthy institutional buyer, the National Security Stock Management Company(SONAGESS), began sourcing 100% Burkinabe rice through UNERIZ in 2015, and procured approximately 400 tonnes in 2022. This partnership not only aligns with government regulations for local procurement but also plays a vital role in replenishing national rice reserves with freshly parboiled rice. In 2023, the World Food Programme (WFP) recognised UNERIZ as a trusted supplier of choice for humanitarian and relief efforts, placing an initial order of 185 tonnes. UNERIZ also has a long-standing partnership with the National Association of Rice Traders of Burkina Faso (ANaCoR-BF), which supplies rural and urban vendors, shops andmarkets. Members of ANaCoR-BF appreciate being able to procure premium quality and sustainable rice through UNERIZ, but also to purchase directly from the parboiling centres, offering a cost-effective second-best rice that still meets consumers’ needs in term of quality. As UNERIZ seeks to expand its presence in non-public markets, ANaCoR-BF and its members have emerged as preferred partners. These mutually beneficial partnerships focus on fair conditions and pricing in return for fresh, high-quality parboiled rice.

Government and public institutions

The Government of Burkina Faso recognises the key role of the rice sector in achieving self-sufficiency and reducing dependence on rice imports. To this end, it has implemented a comprehensive yet ambitious strategy, the Rice Development Strategy NRDS II 2021–2030. The goals include thedevelopment of 400,000 hectares of irrigation systems and an increase in rice production to 1 million tonnes per year, almost doubling current production, with a further target of 3 million tonnes by 2030. Through a presidential initiative, the government has allocated FCFA 10 billion for the 2023/2024 campaign to intensify ricecultivation on 4,000 hectares. Several policy measures have also been introduced to support the marketing of local rice, including prioritising local products for public procurement and encouraging the consumption of local rice at officialceremonies. In addition, initiatives such as providing at least one meal to allschool-age children have favoured local rice. An agricultural bank established by the government in 2017 offers more favourable interest rates and conditionsto support farmers. The franchise model supports the government’s ambitionsby creating a market for local paddy and contributing to economic growth and tax revenues through the various transactions carried out by franchisees. Inaddition, the financial well-being of paddy suppliers and women parboilersincreases their participation in the formal economy, further boosting government revenues.

Financial institutions

Financial institutions have played a crucial role in supporting the franchise model's implementation and expansion. UNERIZ collaborates with institutions such as Coris Bank, Caisse Populaire, and the Agricultural Bank, the latter established by the government to provide more accessible financial services to farmers.

Coris Bank, in particular, has been instrumental in providing suitable financing options to franchisees. UNERIZ’s guarantee fund at the bank reinforces the partnership with UNERIZ members, reducing their exposure and securing credit, that is often not attainable for individual franchisees. Thanks to the fund, the bank does not require parboiling centres to have an IFU number or to be registered in the commercial register before granting them credit, and it offers loans at 8% interest rates, lower than the rates of other banks (10-11%) or any microcredit institutions (14%).  

A tripartite financing system has also been set up with both Coris Bank and Caisse Populaire to help share the risk between partners. Farmers and franchisees discuss their needs and, agree on the quantity of paddy, seeds, and fertilisers, as well as delivery times and conditions. Based on a shared protocol, the franchisees pre-finance the farmers in the form of loans and inputs, waiting to be repaid in paddy. The franchisees are solely responsible for loan repayment to the banks, simplifying the financial process while avoiding double loans and double interest payment.

The franchisee's professionalism has paid off. Today, they can access individual loans from these banks because they have proven to be trustworthy and fruitful customers.


Rikolto has been a steadfast supporter of women parboilers since 2011, focusing on professionalising their rice parboiling activities. This collaboration evolved in 2014 when Rikolto established a partnership with UNERIZ to develop and implement more efficient processing technologies in the existing traditional parboiling centres. In 2017, they jointly developed the franchise business model, marking a significant milestone in their journey together. Rikolto’s support extends beyond financial and technical assistance. It facilitates the development of inclusive business relationships between UNERIZ and other actors in the rice value chain and fosters dialogues among stakeholders. Currently, Rikolto supports UNERIZ in scaling up the franchise model, further advancing their shared objectives. Specifically, Rikolto has contributed to:

  • Finishing and Distribution Centre: Rikolto played a key role in the establishment of the Finishing and Distribution Centre by conducting feasibility studies, preparing business plans and handling administrative formalities. The centre is due to be up and running by the end of 2024.
  • Mobilisation of financial resources: Rikolto was instrumental in mobilising financial resources and bringing financial institutions to the table to ensure thefinancial sustainability of the project.
  • Infrastructure and equipment: The construction of infrastructure, the purchase of equipment and the recruitment of technical staff to increase the capacity and efficiency of the rice parboiling process.
  • Quality assurance: Rikolto has worked to ensure the implementation of quality processesthat guarantee the production of high-quality parboiled rice.
  • Access to information: Through initiatives such as SIMAGRI (Agricultural Products Market Information System), Rikolto has facilitated access to information.
  • Capacity building: Rikolto has implemented capacity building programmes to enhance the business skills of franchisees and other stakeholders.
  • Organisation and facilitation of consultation: Rikolto has played a pivotal role in organising and facilitating consultations among various actors to define common objectives and strategies so they can meet each other’s needs.
  • Promotion of sustainable production: Rikolto has supported UNPRB and paddy producers in becoming more resilient in the face of climate and economic shocks. This support includes the promotion of more sustainable production practices adhering to the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standard.

The partners

The authors

Irene Salvi
International Communications
Tom Van den Steen
Evidence for Impact
Catur Utami Dewi
Sustainable Rice | Global director
Michel Tougma
Programme Manager Burkina Faso
Josephine Ecklu
Inclusive Business coordinator