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The important role of rice in the fight against hunger and poverty

The Malian government quickly realised that growing rice was very effective in fighting hunger and poverty in Mali. Thus, it has developed the sector in recent years by increasing the production area and by training and informing professional agricultural organisations about opportunities in the rice sector.

As a result, the area has doubled and production has tripled over the last decade. However, the rice sector still faces problems, such as the unfair distribution of profits from the sector, which are mainly retained by traders and not by farmers.

The COPON federation was set up to determine within farmers’ organisations the economic added value obtained from rice processing and marketing over time. The creation of FECOPON also aimed to facilitate its members’ access to agricultural credit.

The FECOPON network of cooperatives

Since 2009, with the support of SOS Faim, the SEXAGON union set up a network of rice producers’ cooperatives called the COPON Federation. This federation currently brings together 16 cooperatives and has 1907 members.

This network was able to negotiate more advantageous credit conditions with the microfinance institution Kafo Jiginew, another partner of SOS Faim. These credits have made it possible to supply the network members with fertilisers and to increase production equipment (motorised cultivators).

FECOPON & SOS Faim

SOS Faim supports FECOPON as a whole:
- Cofinancing of its team's salaries
- Technical and financial support for implementing an efficient management system

Ultimately, this support should cover 2,000 rice farms in the Office du Niger zone.

Encouraging results

In 2017, 25 villages in the Office du Niger zone, totalling 205 cooperatives, benefited from agricultural credit via FECOPON.

During the first half of 2018, the Federation’s mini-rizeries processed about 240 tonnes of rice.

Finally, 10 women’s groups each benefited from a 20-ton storage room for market garden production.

However obstacles remain

The commercialisation of processed rice production still faces obstacles. It struggles to compete with cheap Asian rice imports or the free distribution of rice by food aid programmes during crises. In addition to these external causes, internal organisational and institutional causes make commercialisation difficult.

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