On April 16, 2009, the Government of Benin and IFDC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that provides a legal framework for IFDC’s project activities in the country. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was represented by Mr. Desire Adadja, Minister of Communication and Information Technology. He stated, “The Benin Government considers IFDC a strategic ally in its efforts toward food security and poverty reduction.
“I would like to express the appreciation of President Boni Yayi and the Beninese people for the technical and financial support that IFDC brings to our national agricultural development efforts,” Adadja said.
Signing on behalf of Dr. Amit Roy, IFDC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Marjatta Eilittä, Director of IFDC’s North and West Africa Division, said, “I am convinced that this agreement will contribute to the achievement of the Green Revolution, which President Yayi has set as a top development priority.”
Presenting IFDC’s mission and its interventions in Benin, Eilittä said that current production levels in Benin do not provide an adequate supply of agricultural products for the country’s population and emerging agro-industries. At the same time, without adding nutrients through fertilizers, soils are becoming increasingly exhausted due to continuous cultivation.
Eilittä reminded participants of the pledge of the African Heads of States and Governments during the June 2006 Africa Fertilizer Summit in Abuja to increase fertilizer consumption rates from the actual 8 kg/ha to 50 kg/ha by 2015. She stressed that meeting the numerous and complex challenges relating to production growth and the improvement of the production environment requires not only political will but concrete actions to ensure: strong and effective producers’ organizations; efficient input distribution systems; accessible credits for farmers, traders, and processors; and coordination among all actors along the value chain to adapt production to market demand.
According to IFDC’s representative in Benin, Gregoire Houngnibo, “IFDC is recognized in Benin as an expert in soil fertility management and cotton sector and input market development owing to its achievements and flagship activities.
“A good example is a 2005 IFDC study L’Etat du Marché des Intrants Agricoles au Bénin on input markets in Benin. This publication from MIR, a project that developed a regional input market (2003-2008), is a reference recommended by the World Bank and other key institutions in Benin,” Houngnibo said.
“IFDC gained a great deal of visibility during the 2005 Cotton Conference for West and South Africa held in Cotonou. More than 150 international participants, including input distributors, cotton societies and development professionals, met to discuss the challenges and prospects of the cotton sector,” Houngnibo said.
“Through the West African Cotton Improvement Project (WACIP), selected Beninese artisans were trained in quality-enhancing techniques and innovative designs mainly for cotton table and bedding linens. There were $50,000 worth of orders from the United States and South Africa following the artisans’ participation in the international trade fair organized by Aid to Artisans in New York and the International Artcraft Exhibition of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.”
Representing the National Council of Agricultural Inputs Importers and Distributors of Benin, Nowan Yaya Adamon commended IFDC for its role in upgrading the professionalism of input distribution. “Today all development partners acknowledge the vital role of the agricultural inputs sector to boost agricultural production,” Adamon said. “Partnering with IFDC helps producer groups to know the needs and constraints and adjust distribution to the demand. Most of all, working with IFDC gives us more visibility among actual and potential clients and that is paramount for our business.”
Gaston Dossouhovi, former Minister of Agriculture, who was present at the signing ceremony, said “IFDC is helping to find sustainable responses to the cotton crisis. This Agreement between the Beninese government and IFDC is the achievement of ongoing efforts since 2004. Those who played a role in the process are very pleased to see this day.”
Minister Adadja concluded, “The signing of this agreement marks the beginning of a new partnership between IFDC and the Beninese Government. This partnership should focus on four strategic areas: agricultural reforms; access to agricultural inputs and supply systems; institutional development; and integrated soil fertility management.”