In Burkina Faso, rice is a major strategic challenge. It’s a staple food for nearly 80% of the population. Although it ranks 4th in the list of crops cultivated in the country, the quantities produced don’t meet the domestic market demand. Rice producers supply 300,000 tonnes of paddy to processors compared to the 650,000 tonnes average consumption of white rice per year. In the Centre-East region, rice processing units operate at about one third of their production capacity due to, among other things, steady supply shortages of quality paddy, lack of proper equipment, scarcity of workers and a certain mistrust of financial institutions.
During the first years, I was afraid to take a loan from the bank and have trouble repaying
Lamine, like many of his peers, encountered difficulties since he started running his own rice processing unit. He knew little about how to set up a formal business and did not trust financial institutions. "During the first years, I was afraid to take a loan from the bank and have trouble repaying", admits Lamine. The young owner had to wait patiently to save up enough to construct his first piece of infrastructure, a rustic storage warehouse, and to acquire basic rice husking equipment. On several occasions he risked going bankrupt and feared the worst.
To minimise these challenges, AGRA promotes capacity-building activities for the actors involved in the rice value chain. Qualiriz stands within this framework of activities. The project is financed by BMZ and AGRA and implemented by a consortium of NGOs. Rikolto, which leads the project, partnered with Trias, as well as the consultancy firm, SICAREX, the umbrella organisation of rice producers' cooperative societies in Burkina (UNPRB) and the Institute of Environment and Agricultural Research (INERA). This project aims to strengthen and support a competitive and inclusive rice value chain that will increase the income of 50,000 small-scale producers in the Centre-East administrative region of Burkina Faso.
After nearly two years of implementation, quite good results have been observed:
The work of the processing units is better organised. Sellers became real promoters of their business. They learned to what extent their actions have influence, and adopted good sales practices. When agricultural enterprises are operating at full capacity and get results, they attract young people’s interest, bringing them back to agriculture
For Hermann Ouedrago, Head of Monitoring and Evaluation for Qualiriz and Rikolto in West Africa, investing and supporting processing companies contributes to reducing youth unemployment in the area of the project. Qualiriz has been supporting 10 young entrepreneurs in the development of their processing units, and we expect that, at the end of the project, they will contribute to the creation of 100 new jobs.
Thanks to Qualiriz's supporting initiatives, Lamine made considerable progress in the development of his business. He used to conclude verbal contracts directly and individually with the producers, finding himself having to cope alone with potential damaging consequences.
Today, I’m part of a cooperative and I’m more rigorous. In a cooperative, the risk for the loans obtained to buy inputs is shared. My business works better; our transactions are fully recorded in banks. Financial institutions trust us more and want to work with us.
"Today, I’m part of a cooperative and I’m more rigorous. In a cooperative, the risk for the loans obtained to buy inputs is shared” he says. Now that he is better informed about the facilities offered by the industrial sector in term of the administrative and financial aspects, he’s no longer sceptical of financial institutions. "My business works better; our transactions are fully recorded in banks. Financial institutions trust us more and want to work with us."
Qualiriz has succeeded in bringing together different actors working in the rice sector of the Centre-East region and in facilitating the dialogue between them throughout the value chain. Lamine is just one of the entrepreneurs who have benefitted from this joint initiative