The SIFA (integrated agricultural training sites): an excellent agricultural development tool

Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion
Located in the Sahelo-Saharan band, Niger is a landlocked country whose economy is essentially based on agro-sylvo-pastoralism, which combines livestock husbandry on pastures and agriculture on partially wooded land. Agriculture accounts for 40% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and remains the primary sector for employment. However, due to the climatic and environmental hazards in Niger, this sector is faced with the difficulty of meeting the global supply and demand of employment. This is why, for several years, the development of the agricultural sector has been a central concern for public decision-makers and development partners such as Swisscontact in Niger. 

Indeed, since 2006, Swisscontact has accompanied the State of Niger in its efforts to revitalise the agricultural sector and to fight against unemployment and poverty reduction, especially in rural areas. It is in this perspective that the training mechanism SIFA or “Site Intégré de Formation Agricole” has been developed within the framework of the programme “Support to Rural Vocational Training” (FOPROR) financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC. Implemented by Swisscontact, the SIFA aims to make agriculture a “real profession” that allows young people to earn a living throughout the year. This practice is organised according to local demand, rainfed food and cash crops, off-season crops, livestock activities, and processing activities.

Accompanying young people on the labour market

Between 2017 and 2021, 8 666 young people, including 5 423 girls and 3 246 boys, have been trained through the SIFA in Maradi and Dosso, the regions in which those sites are located. As such, many jobs have been created in rural areas through the accompaniment of these young people on the labour market and the strengthening and/or creation of workshops and mini-farms. Moreover, SIFA has been an alternative for reducing the rural exodus in Niger. According to chief of the village of Awna Dakanka, located in the Maradi region “since our young people have been trained at the SIFA in Gabi Tajaé, they have stayed in the village. They stay and cultivate the land, which allows them to earn a good living. Today, many young people from here want to go and train at SIFA, like Abdoulaye Idi, who has had exemplary success in our village”.

Today, in Niger, the SIFA has become an excellent agricultural development tool that the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training tends to popularise nationwide. Already in this process of popularisation, this Ministry has since April 26, 2022, decided to institutionalise the SIFA. This first stage of institutionalisation, which follows the transfer of 24 SIFAs by the Swiss Cooperation in Niger back to the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training, integrates the SIFA system to the national vocational training offer.

Enhance agricultural training in rural areas

According to Laouali Abdoul Baki, Director General of Vocational Training, Apprenticeship and Professional Integration at the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training, the institutionalisation aims not only to give legal status to the SIFAs but also to link them to the Trade Training Centers, which are Public Establishments for basic vocational training under community management. He also explains that thanks to the institutionalisation, Niger can aspire to an endogenous development because it will have the possibility to enhance agricultural training in rural areas, to modernise its agriculture, to develop large industries and value chains in the field of agri-food processing.

Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion
Rural Skills Development support program in Niger
Swisscontact contributes to the improvement of the living conditions of rural youth in the regions of Dosso and Maradi, by the establishment of a training-system and the integration of trained youths into the labor market.