Rome. - Two FAO projects in Niger and Senegal have earned awards in an EXPO 2015 competition aimed at spotlighting best practices in sustainability in international food security work. The EXPO's theme this year is "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life". The "Best Sustainable Development Practices" competition was organized by the Feeding Knowledge platform, an EXPO 2015 initiative that is promoting greater cooperation in research and innovation related to food security, with a focus on policies, technologies, know-how and services and products.
First prize in the category "Quantitative and Qualitative Enhancement of Crop Products" was awarded today in a ceremony at Expo to the project "Intensification of agriculture by strengthening cooperative agro-input shops" (IARBIC), a collaboration between FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture of Niger, a dozen Producers Federations of Niger and a host of other development partners.
The project seeks to raise agricultural production in Niger by improving access to quality fertilizers. The capacities of a huge network of producers, cooperatives and farmers' organizations are enhanced by training them in how to organize joint fertilizer orders, to manage the agro-input shops, including book-keeping and business management, as well as in new agricultural techniques required to increase productivity, such as the rational and appropriate use of quality fertilizers.
Over the last five years, around 260 agro-inputs shops have been established and 100 warehouses for storing harvest produce have been built, serving the needs of over 100,000 smallholder farmers. In addition to fertilizers, the input shops also sell seeds and offer phytosanitary and other services, as well as targeting women with sales of smaller quantities of fertilizer.
The project has also supported innovative financing schemes, such as the inventory credit system known as ‘warrantage'. Furthermore, a 653,000 Euro guarantee fund was established for eight farmer federations who were thereby able to access credit for agro-business activities and for the creation of the Union of Producer Federations of Niger (GATANCI), supported by IARBIC.
SECOND PRIZE FOR WORK IN SMALL RURAL COMMUNITIES
Second prize in the category "Sustainable development of small rural communities in marginal areas" went to another FAO project, "Eradication of the tsetse fly Glossina palpalis gambiensis from the Niayes in Senegal".
The project aims to create a tsetse fly-free zone in western Senegal, thereby reducing incidence of trypanosomosis, a livestock disease, and support development of more efficient livestock production systems. FAO is engaged in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Directorate of Veterinary Services, and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and the Senegal Institute for Agricultural Research.
The EXPO selection Committee emphasized the high levels of collaboration embodied in the prize-winning projects. All told, eighteen award winning projects were selected out of 786 entries by an international committee that included prominent figures such as Prince Albert II of Monaco, Sebastião Salgado, Vandana Shiva, Jeffrey Sachs and others.
Submissions were organized around five thematic priorities: sustainable management of natural resources; improvements in the quantity and quality of agricultural production; socio-economic dynamics and global markets; sustainable development of small rural communities in marginal areas; and food consumption habits: diet, environment, society, economy and health.
The projects highlighted via the Best Practices competition are being exhibited through videos and photographic installations in the Pavilion Zero at EXPO 2015 in Milan.