Benin is a low-income country that experienced serious challenges in developing its agricultural sector, which employs almost half of the labor force. Growth was particularly modest in agriculture. The rural economy has been dominated by low-productivity agriculture where steady output growth has been accompanied by a deforestation rate of over twice that of the average Sub-Saharan region.
While it offers the country the potential for sustainable growth and employment, agriculture in Benin is still highly dependent on rainfall and an important commodity-cotton-whose productivity has remained modest over time. Past agricultural performance has not been enough to induce significant poverty reduction. Agricultural production systems were based on increasing cultivated areas and family labor, with limited use of improved inputs, production methods and agricultural equipment.
The World Bank deployed a range of instruments to assist Benin’s government in achieving its goal of transforming agriculture, including investment operations, knowledge products and development policy financing. The purpose was to move from low productivity and largely subsistence-based activities to more productive and high value production that contributes to increased farm income and job opportunities for a rapidly growing labor force. Through capacity building and matching grants, the projects have improved the availability and access to productivity-enhancing technology.
These instruments have also been used to promote agricultural processing, through improved skills and access to better processing equipment. To promote export diversification, the projects put an emphasis on the adoption of improved production methods, better knowledge of export markets, compliance to quality standards, and adequate packaging. In these interventions, gender and women empowerment have received particular attention.
This approach is reflected in the Country Partnership Framework (CPF 2018-2023). The ongoing CPF takes as its point of departure the Systematic Country Diagnostic for Benin (SCD) that prioritizes development of Benin’s vast agricultural potential as the primary path to better employment of its natural resources while simultaneously creating higher productivity jobs.
The World Bank's support has produced significant progress in agricultural diversification, productivity improvement, agricultural products processing, and increased non-cotton production.
- As of July 15, 2019, PADA has reached 243,664 direct beneficiaries, 39% of whom were women, who have been supported compared to a target of 250,000 by February 2021.
- As of July 15, 2019, WAAPP has reached 753,387 direct beneficiaries, 40% of whom were women, who have been supported compared to a target of 900,000 by December 2019.
- As of July 15, 2019, 225,467 tons of products were processed, compared to a target of 240,000 tons by 2021.
- Between March 2012 and July 2019, PADA led to increase in the quantity of products exported, namely: from 25,000 to 218,830 tons for cashew nuts, and from 20,000 to 151,195 tons for pineapple.
- Between March 2012 and July 2019, PADA led to increase in yields of targeted commodities, namely: from 1.2 to 2.2 tons/ha for maize; from 4 to 4.53 tons/ha for rice; from 50 to 60 tons/ha for pineapple; from 0.45 to 0.62 tons/ha for cashew nuts.
- Between March 2012 and July 2019, about 200 storage facilities/warehouses and 60 drying areas that have been constructed through under PADA and this has contributed to significant reduction of postharvest losses, especially for food crops and cashews.
- As of July 2019, several research infrastructures were constructed and/ or renovated (construction of a soil science, water and environment laboratory, renovation of facilities of the National Center of Specialization on Maize); additional equipment were acquired to upgrade the standards of agricultural research and teaching labs and reduce the vulnerability of research and seed multiplication fields to erratic rainfall through small scale irrigation devices. WAAPP is also facilitating the accreditation process of the beneficiary research institutes.
- As of July 2019, WAAPP provided scholarships for higher education to 117 students (46 of whom are women), including 91 Masters (50 of whom have graduated) and 26 PhDs (all of whom have completed their studies) to strengthen the capacity of research and extension services.
- Between March 2012 and July 2019, PADA increased access to improve animal breeds and promoted better animal husbandry practices among 59,000 livestock producers, including 23,600 women (40% of total beneficiaries), leading to increased productivity and better income.
- Between March 2012 and July 2019, PADA supported animal husbandry through vaccination campaigns (216,762 small ruminants and 1,772,701 poultry leading to reduced livestock mortalities).
- As of July 2019, 230 micro, small and medium enterprises, covering production, processing and marketing of agri-food products, were supported through the matching grant scheme under PADA, and are still in operation.
Bank Group Contribution
Benin’s current IDA portfolio comprises 20 (14 national and 6 regional) operations totaling net commitment of approximately $1,272 million ($905.93 million & $366.87 million in national and regional commitments, respectively). The portfolio is supplemented by one recipient-executed trust fund of $300,000 for the National Statistics Institute. The biggest investments are in infrastructure sectors mainly agriculture, energy, water, and urban development, followed by the social sectors, including social protection and CDD (Community Driven Development)-oriented operations. Other sectors supported include: education; tourism; private sector development; and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s strategy in Benin is to (i) develop projects essentially in agribusiness value chains; (ii) forge partnerships with local banks to foster joint ventures aimed at developing micro and small and medium enterprise (SME) finance products to support microfinance and SME sectors; and (iii) support investment climate improvement through technical assistance to the government for implementation of reforms aimed at facilitating private investment. Currently, IFC supports Benin's financial sector with a total amount of $29 million. Its advisory portfolio also provides support in the areas of energy, cross-border trade and improving the investment climate for a total amount of $3 million.
The World Bank holds discussions with several partners that support the implementation of Benin’s Agricultural Sector Development Plan. These include the African Development Bank, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Netherlands Development Cooperation, the European Union, the French Development Agency (AFD), Belgium’s technical cooperation Agency (Enabel), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United States Agency of International Development (USAID).
The World Bank Group’s strategy for Benin is governed by the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) which covers the period Fiscal Year 2019-Fiscal Year 2023. his CPF was endorsed by the Board on July 5th, 2018. The indicated IDA 18 allocation for Benin is about $485 million which is already committed for FY18 & FY19 lending. The entire IDA 19 allocation will be devoted to the second half of CPF implementation. Benin has also thus far benefitted from Scale-Up Facility (SUF) S$330million, and trust funds totaling $31.23 million.
The CPF seeks to help Benin overcome impediments to achieving the twin goals. The proposed operations are structured around the following focus areas: (i) structural transformation for competitiveness and productivity; (ii) investing in human capital; and (iii) increasing resilience and reducing climate-related vulnerability.
The program will be focused on achieving high impact outcomes while leveraging scarce resources; the IDA allocation will be selectively targeted and leveraged by drawing upon cross-group synergies, by making best use of the full array of IDA18, IDA19 and Africa Region special initiatives, maximizing finance for development (MFD), and partnering with other international development agencies in ways that best employ the comparative advantages of each.
Cyprienne Dossou, chairwoman of Agouagon Women’s Cooperative of parboiled rice: "Rice parboiling has allowed us to substantially improve our incomes"
Eugénie Faïzoun, fish farmer in Zinvié: "This support boosted my farm's sales "