FAO to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on agricultural, food and nutrition security in Benin

Faced with the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) designed and implemented a project with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries under the Technical Cooperation Program (TCP).

This project serves as support for the strategy to lessen the effects of COVID-19 on the agricultural industry, as well as on food and nutrition security. Update on the results and effects of this TCP since it first began to be implemented.

Clementine Dovonou, 30, works with members of the Wabadou 2 cooperative in her rice field, a portion of a fifteen (15) hectare agricultural area in Covè, southern Benin. At the start of the afternoon, in the glaring sun, the farmers are diligently weeding their field. FAO rice seeds have produced very good results compared to our old seeds, Clementine stated in an interview she gave to the follow-up mission commissioned by FAO Benin and the MAEP. Celestine Hounzinmin from the Nouwagnon group, another FAO recipient, praises the quality of the maize from Glazoué in the Center-South of Benin, exactly 100 kilometres away. Thanks to the FAO’s intervention, we no longer have as many problems getting seed.

“The Covid-19 pandemic had paved the way for poverty…”

In fact, rural women and young people in Benin have received support for access to agricultural inputs thanks to Project TCP/BEN/3802, which is titled Support for the Plan to Mitigate the Impacts of Covid-19 on the Agricultural Sector and Food and Nutrition Security. The Beninese government’s restrictions on travel in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19 created a situation where the Project was both conceived of and put into action where access to agricultural seeds was problematic. Covid-19 did in fact affect Benin, as it did the majority of other nations in the world; the first case was noted in March 2020. The government of Benin has responded to this situation by taking a number of actions to stop the pandemic. A sanitary cordon has been established around the following municipalities: Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi, Allada, Ouidah, Tori-Bossito, Zè, Sèmè-Podji, Porto-Novo, Sô-Ava, Aguégués, Akpro-Missérété, Adjarra, Toffo, Kpomassè, and Avrankou. Other measures include the temporary closure of schools, The Covid-19 pandemic had paved the way for poverty here, recalls FAO beneficiary farmer Rose Aredina, Chief of the Omou village in Kétou in south-eastern Benin and a maize producer. Producers were unable to move. Since the attics were deserted, eating was challenging.

In order to aid the Beninese government’s initiatives to “improve the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises” related to the pandemic, the FAO Project TCP/BEN/3802 was timely.

Project achievements

According to Mr. Eugène Djossou, MAEP executive and project coordinator for Project TCP/BEN/3802 at the FAO, “groups of women, young people, and individual producers have so far received 77 tonnes of NPK fertiliser, 16 tonnes of urea, 34 tonnes of maize seeds, 25 tonnes of rice seeds, and 720 boxes of 100-gram tomatoes.” The project additionally assisted the Technical Support Unit for Food and Nutritional Security (CT / SAGSA) in conducting an analysis of food insecurity in the context of COVID-19 using the methodology of the Harmonized Framework (CH) tool. In addition, the realisation and publication of the evaluation report of Benin’s agricultural campaign for 2021–2022, not to mention the analysis of the economy of households in Covid–19, were made. Four thousand people are thought to have been impacted by the project so far (4000).

In order to increase their capacity for manufacturing fish feed using the right tools and processes, fish feed manufacturing facilities were examined as part of the project’s work on aquaculture. In order to achieve this, equipment has been ordered, and it will soon be distributed to the designated beneficiaries.

The marketing of the goods gathered during the first agricultural campaign, in the opinion of the beneficiaries, positively affected households’ daily lives. This is the story of two rural women who produce rice, Clementine Dovonou and Marcelline Ahonou. They realised that Project TCP/BEN/3802 not only made it easier for their families to access food, but also provided funds for their children’s education through the sale of the harvested goods. “The grains are beautiful and large, and my customers have appreciated it very much,” says the manufacturer of products made from FAO seeds. This is a statement from maize seller and cooperative member Dame Ogoumandjo Ramantou in Pobè, in the southeast of Benin. This declaration provides details regarding the calibre of the crop produced using seeds provided by Project TCP/BEN/3802.

North to south of Benin, more than 120 localities are affected. The project’s overall budget was $486,000. It began in December 2020. The goal is to improve the quality of life and increase resilience to the negative effects of Covid-19 in the most vulnerable Beninese populations by 2023.

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