The country of Burkina Faso, “Land of Upright People,” is situated in Africa’s Sahel region and prone to shocks, such as droughts. But a new USAID Development Credit Authority (DCA) partner is quickly lending to smallholder farmers and women's groups to tackle these challenges.
Burkina Faso’s agriculture-based economy is characterized by low productivity and subsistence farming. Diversification is low, with cotton representing more than 60 percent of agricultural exports. Many smallholder farmers and their families live at or below the international poverty line (US$1.90/day), with large numbers of these families receiving international humanitarian assistance in times of stress and instabilities.
The agreement between USAID DCA and Faîtière des Caisses Populaires du Burkina (FCPB), a nationwide network of savings cooperatives and microcredit institutions, has already supported $3.1 million in lending throughout rural Burkina Faso, with millions more to come. As an important component of USAID’s Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE)project, the result is increased resilience and greater food security for Burkinabe families.
STREGTHENING RURAL AGRICULTURE
With loans of around $1,000 or less, smallholder farmers are quadrupling their yield of foodstuffs like potatoes, onions, green beans, carrots and other vegetables. Larger loans up to $23,000 have been used by women’s groups to practice water conservation or restore farmland.
Financing is provisioned through one of FCPB’s six regional Caisses, or credit cooperatives, and can be used to purchase small agriculture-related infrastructure, such as water pumps, and also for higher quality inputs, such as seeds and fertilizer. Some farmers have planted cover crops to prevent run-off during the rainy season. Others have bought livestock, fattening them for sale in the market or to consume during Tabaski, the West African name for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.
COLLABORATION YIELDS BETTER RESULTS
Community members in Pensa village, in the northern province of Bam, collectively borrowed to help irrigate more than 80 hectares during the dry months. The sight of corn and onions growing during the offseason was a first in the area - ensuring the village’s food security during the lean season and providing a best practice for others to follow.
In the village of Nogho Peulh, a women’s group used a DCA-backed loan to start a livestock business, with plans to expand into dairy production. In the village of Bissighuin, a women’s group’s living standards increased so much after their gardening and animal husbandry project flourished that others took notice. An additional 160 groups eventually opened accounts at FCPB, with 55 of them already receiving their first loan.
The increased incomes and food security, combined with RISE program activities that promote savings, asset accumulation and other development best practices, are part of USAID's larger effort to make rural Burkinabe more resilient in the face of recurrent stresses and shocks. DCA’s guarantee agreement with FCPB reaches thousands of these rural farmers and their families, increasing resilience, improving food security, supporting livelihoods and driving growth.