Following its launch in Benin in 2013, the Ouémé Valley Rural Infrastructure Support Project successfully improved the incomes of local populations. Rice farmers in the region now earn $361.47 a year, surpassing the target of $221.99.
The project, expected to close in December 2022, received $74.83 million in co-funding from the African Development Bank Group's concessional arm, the African Development Fund. Additional financing came from the Global Environment Facility.
The project objective was to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and yields, while also boosting producers' incomes.
According to the Bank Group's Implementation Progress and Results Report, published on 22 July 2022, women beneficiaries now earn $247.86 per year (about 158,000 FCFA) and are projected to earn up to $594.57 (about 380,000 FCFA) by the end of the project.
This performance has been achieved thanks to an increase in the production volume of agricultural and market-garden food crops. The surplus agricultural food production marketed (rice and maize) increased from 70,100 tonnes in 2013 to 77,992 tonnes in 2021. Surplus market-garden production sold exceeded the target threshold of 32,600 tonnes, hitting 32,742 tonnes.
"Despite the many constraints that have disrupted its implementation, the project is on track to achieve its impacts," according to the Bank report. "The construction of rural roads has already opened up several production areas that were previously difficult to access."
The report goes on to add, "With the construction of facilities to totally control the water of Tangbédji (540 hectares) and the 651 hectares of gravity perimeters and the development of the shallows, the project is expected to have a significant effect on agricultural productivity and production and on incomes in the Ouémé Valley." According to findings, the exploitation of developed areas testifies to the clear will of the beneficiary producers to use them wisely.
Execution of the project led to the sowing of 2020 hectares of land, the distribution of 499.77 tonnes of seeds and the construction of 200 kilometres of agricultural tracks and 10 kilometres of dyke tracks. In addition, 50 storage warehouses have been built and received.
The project also intended to set up 10 collection markets and three secondary markets. Ultimately, these plans were adjusted to fit the realities on the ground. Construction of the 10 collection markets was abandoned in favour of an additional secondary market. As a result a total of four secondary markets have now been completed and received.
Further, one loading dock has been built and six others are currently under construction. The project's implementation rate stands at 67.79%.
The project also created 19,066 jobs, including 1740 for women.
"The project has completed all the land communications, storage and marketing infrastructure. All that remains is the hydro-agricultural developments. The 651 hectares of gravity perimeters have a 70% completion rate, while the 540-hectare Tangbédji perimeter has been completed to 65%," the Bank's report concludes.