TWO of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO projects have earned awards in an EXPO 2015 competition aimed at spotlighting best practices in sustainability in international food security work.
The organisation said in a statement that two initiatives in Niger and Senegal won awards for best practices in sustainable development at the Expo under the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.
It said the “Best Sustainable Development Practices” competition was organized by the Feeding Knowledge platform, an Expo 2015 initiative that is promoting greater cooperation in research and innovation related to food security, with a focus on policies, technologies, know-how and services and products.
First prize in the category “Quantitative and Qualitative Enhancement of Crop Products” was awarded in a ceremony at Expo to the project “Intensification of agriculture by strengthening cooperative agro-input shops”, IARBIC, collaboration between FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture of Niger, a dozen Producers Federations of Niger and a host of other development partners.
According to the statement, the project seeks to raise agricultural production in Niger by improving access to quality fertilizers.
“The capacities of a huge network of producers, cooperatives and farmers’ organisations are enhanced by training them in how to organize joint fertilizer orders, to manage the agro-input shops, including book-keeping and business management, as well as in new agricultural techniques required to increase productivity, such as the rational and appropriate use of quality fertilizers.
“Over the last five years, around 260 agro-inputs shops have been established and 100 warehouses for storing harvest produce have been built, serving the needs of over 100,000 smallholder farmers. In addition to fertilizers, the input shops also sell seeds and offer phytosanitary and other services, as well as targeting women with sales of smaller quantities of fertilizer”, it stressed.
FAO stated that the project has also supported innovative financing schemes, like the inventory credit system known as ‘warrantage’.
It disclosed that a 653,000 Euro guarantee fund was established for eight farmer federations who were thereby able to access credit for agro-business activities and for the creation of the Union of Producer Federations of Niger, GATANCI, supported by IARBIC.
It also said the second prize in the category “Sustainable development of small rural communities in marginal areas” went to another FAO project, “Eradication of the tsetse fly Glossina palpalis gambiensis from the Niayes in Senegal”.
The project, according to the statement aims to create a tsetse fly-free zone in western Senegal, thereby reducing incidence of trypanosomosis, a livestock disease, and support development of more efficient livestock production systems.
It said FAO is engaged in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, the Directorate of Veterinary Services, and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and the Senegal Institute for Agricultural Research.

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