Women in the CERNAFA cooperative_DSC3277f
Left alone by their husbands, who abandoned Niger’s arid land in search of a better life in neighboring coastal countries, women in the CERNAFA cooperative, in the Tillaberi region of Niger, joined forces 14 years ago to combat malaria, which was devastating their families, to shrink school dropout rates, and to build up their income by growing market crops. Established in 2002, the group began with 52 members and today counts 257. It has become a case study for women’s advancement in Niger. Each producer farms her own plot (an area of 429 square meters on average), but the women, who practice organic farming, combine their resources to buy equipment. Every year, 10 percent of each woman’s production is remitted to the co-op to finance plans for the future. “It’s thanks to this group that we climbed out of our misery,” they all proclaim. These women still water their plots with watering cans, but this year the co-op will invest CFAF 2 million to construct a low-pressure irrigation system.
The cooperative received CFAF 2.5 million in financing under the auspices of the Agro-Pastoral Export and Market Development Project (Prodex), established by the Niger government in 2009, with support from the World Bank, to help small farmers market their products and expand their activities. There is still a large gender gap in agricultural productivity and profits within Niger. Revenues of male-only producer groups are double those of women-only producer groups and men-only groups are also more productive: on average producing 5 times more onions and 2 times more cowpeas than women-only groups. The Agro-Pastoral Export and Market Development Project is working to boost incomes and stimulate agricultural group. The World Bank Gender Innovation Lab will offer evidence on whether targeted support to female farmer groups had a higher impact on their farm yields and sales revenue. Photo: © Stephan Gladieu / World Bank