Harnessing Innovative Technologies and Business Linkages to Increase Food Security in Niger
Agriculture technologies, farmer-to-farmer connections and access to markets are important determinants in ensuring that families and communities have access to a reliable source of quality food that is affordable. Business-to-business events strengthen linkages between market systems actors across locations, including input and technology suppliers, microfinance institutions, and farmers’ producer organizations. With the aim of increasing these important linkages, from June 6-8, 2023, USAID Yalwa facilitated the Technology and Innovation Market in Maradi, Niger to scale emerging innovative technologies to new potential users and to create business opportunities for market system actors, particularly youth, women entrepreneurs and people living with disabilities.
The Market showcased 26 producer organizations, 22 private enterprises, three NGOs (Catholic Relief Services, CARE International and ONG Niger Développement (N-DEV)) and the University of Maradi from the Dosso, Niamey, Maradi, and Zinder regions. Exhibitors promoted technologies related to food processing, animal production (e.g., small ruminants, poultry, livestock feed, poultry feed, technical inputs) and agricultural inputs (fertilizers such as locally produced natural rock phosphate). With over 207 exhibitors, USAID Yalwa’s collaboration with the Government of Niger and other USAID implementing partners (Sahel Collaboration and Communication, Livestock System Innovation Lab, and Youth Connect) contributed to the Market’s success. For example, N-DEV strengthened business relationships with individual buyers through the marketing of poultry incubators, dryers and mills and solar-powered irrigation pumps. Further, forty-six young entrepreneurs who were selected through Yalwa’s Marketplace Entrepreneurship and Youth Entrepreneurship for Rural Innovation in-kind grant funds established business relationships with exhibitors and increased their knowledge about innovative technologies.
Ali Sayabou, an entrepreneurial farmer from Yalwa’s grant program in the Maradi Region, was interested in the Market to see different incubator technologies for his chicken coop expansion.
“I was really impressed with Technology/Innovation fair this year. Exhibitors showcased an incredible array of advanced agricultural technologies. I particularly enjoyed the demonstration of the solar-powered irrigation pumps and the large incubators. The company representatives were very knowledgeable and ready to answer all my questions,” he said. “I would have liked to see more affordable specialized machines for small farms, but overall, it was a rewarding experience and I came away with lots of ideas to modernize my operation.”
To address the needs of farmer like Sayabou, USAID Yalwa has two funding programs for youth and women entrepreneurs, namely the Market Entrepreneurship Program and the Youth and Rural Innovation Entrepreneurship Program. These programs aim to provide farmers with equipment, agricultural processing products and training in several areas such as equipment maintenance, management, etc.
The Market exhibitors sold products and materials worth $6,743.90 (4,135,000 FCFA) over the course of the three-day event. Balami sheep and natural rock phosphate fertilizer were the most frequently purchased items by producer organizations, pointing to the strength of Yalwa’s partnerships with the University of Maradi and SOFIA S.A. As next steps, USAID Yalwa will monitor after-sale services and develop a joint plan with other implementing partners and stakeholders to scale the accessibility of technologies across partner projects’ intervention areas. The Technology and Innovation Market was such a success that many participants requested it be an annual event to continue the momentum of creating linkages across markets, businesses, and technologies.