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The impact of recurrent access to farm credit on smallholder farmers' production, food security and nutrition in Benin/West Africa

  • Published on February 14, 2019
The activity was a research project to document the impact of farm credit on a bundle of impacts at farm-household level: Indicators measured were production, input use, agricultural and non-agricultural income, uptake and nutritional quality of food, and special impacts on women empowerment. This was to test the narrative of credit as a binding factor for wellbeing of rural households and support the increse of refinancing capital for rural (micro)finance institutions. It should also clarify whether factors such as farmers' education, practical knowledge, migration, support through extension services or embeddedness in formal value chains had an influence on the impacts. This could give guidelines as to whether additional accompanying measures would improve the impacts.
The research has been carried out with the Laboratoire d'Analyse des Dynamiques Sociales et de Développement (LADyD) of the University of d'Abomey-Calavi, Bénin, in a relatively short time frame (6 months) for such an ambitious research project. The FECECAM leadership was convinced of the usefullness of the excercise and provided full support although it stressed their capacities, and a steering comitee as well as national restitution workshop created ownership and helped achieve outreach. The findings are consistent and mostly positive for rural development, food security and nutrition, while at the same time some ways of improvement could be indicated even improve them, for instance through more systematic linkages to extension, to agrcultural value chains, or to women-tailored activities. Also, regional differences as to agro-ecological settings, cropping and market opportunities became clear and indicate the way foreward to more site-specific strateties, including off-farm options for women. FECECAM is using the results, some of the first of that quality on the impact of agricultural credit in the country, to demonstrate its impacts and acquire additional funding. However, more can be still done to spread the results, including to the international community of food system actors, in particular finance and food chain actors and support services.

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