Harvesting for Longer Term Collaboration with the Beninese Horticulture Sector

Netherlands Food Partnership in close collaboration with the Benin based AgriBiz Booster Association, recently organised three online webinars for key public and private partners from the Beninese horticulture sector. Initiated by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN), around 35 Beninese and Dutch partners attended the online workshops.

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Objective

The overall objective of this webinar series was to kick-start longer term collaboration between key partners in the Beninese horticulture sector. With this in mind, the emphasis was on knowledge and information exchange, with a particular focus on the sector's role within the Beninese food system, as well as its function in the national, regional and international producer and consumer markets.

Challenges and Opportunities

During the first webinar, the key findings from an ACED Benin horticulture sector study, which was funded through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO, were shared with participants. ACED’s Director of Operations Donald Houessou presented the main challenges that emerged from the study which the sector is currently experiencing. This includes access to quality inputs, limited access to financial resources, climate change and the availability of vegetables throughout the year.

Conversely, the emerging opportunities for the sector were subsequently highlighted, which included amongst others, the increased productivity and storage of onions and tomatoes in Benin, innovations related to climate change, specialised selling points and professionalised transformation to provide business opportunities for women.

Food Systems Masterclass

To further enhance the participants' knowledge, Bart de Steenhuijsen Piters from Wageningen University and Research (WUR), delivered a masterclass on food systems. Beginning with an introduction using concrete examples, there was ample time for reflection and discussions for partners to develop a stronger understanding of the food system in Benin and the role of the horticulture sector. As a result, the participants are now far more likely to be strongly positioned to make informed choices and strategically prioritise the opportunities that address the most urgent challenges, as well as identify the required collective actions.

Context and Choices

Whilst looking at the horticulture sector in Benin and its role in food systems in a wider context, Bart de Steenhuijsen Piters also presented the key results from a WUR global scoping study on fruit and vegetable production, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Three key issues were identified and sub-groups were subsequently formed to jointly formulate the next steps:

  • Transformation and export of piment
  • Horticulture and climate
  • Availability of specialised retail outlets

Moving forward

Partners in Benin, the EKN and NFP are presently in further discussions to identify how to shape, follow up and strengthen collaboration between key partners in the Beninese horticulture sector, in 2022 and beyond. The three parties are also looking into and reviewing the urgent issues that need to be addressed for the sector to make a contribution to food system transformation. NFP, AgriBiz Booster and the EKN in Cotonou are also organising a fourth webinar in early 2022. This will finalise the work done in 2021, as well as looking forward to further shaping and strengthening collaboration between key partners in the Beninese horticulture sector.

The webinar report is now available, and is available (in French) to download here.

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