The producer associations and organisations that are affiliated with the project have employed various agricultural techniques and implemented a range of measures in order to create a more favourable economic and social environment for women. For example, fens secured by barbed-wire fences and equipped with solar pump systems have been created and drip irrigation systems have been installed to make this difficult task easier for the women who have to do it. In addition, training has been given in the use of environmentally friendly production methods, organic fertilisers and biopesticides for crop spraying.
The PASDER (Programme d’Appui au Secteur du Développement Rural) project – which is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) – has set itself the goal of helping to bring about a sustainable improvement in the living conditions of the rural population in 27 communities in northern Benin by reducing poverty and food insecurity. Direct beneficiaries include women’s vegetable production cooperatives, which have enjoyed proven success in the market since the start of the project and are making an important contribution to women’s empowerment and independence.
The locations, which are farmed by 101 women in multiple communities in northern Benin, have an area of between one and three hectares – roughly the size of three football pitches. Today, they are reference points for how to deliver fresh paddy rice or maize during the rainy season and then fresh, high-quality vegetables (aubergine, chilli, tomato, okra, lettuce, etc.) in the off season.
“Thanks to PASDER, our production has increased and our annual income has risen from 45,000 CFA francs (CHF 75) to 240,000 CFA francs (CHF 400). I can now ensure that my children get better access to healthcare and they are able to go to school.”
Baguiri Gnanki, Women's Association in Kalalé
As well as helping to increase production, the expansion of vegetable cultivation capacities has also contributed to an improvement in product quality. The women supply the large, important markets as well as hotels and restaurants with some 610 tonnes of vegetables per year, thereby helping to reduce the national and, above all, the local supply shortage. Together, they generate annual revenues of around 320,000 Swiss francs, which makes them economically emancipated female entrepreneurs.
The project (PASDeR) is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by the Swisscontact-LARES consortium.