Center for Mechanized Services with the farmers' cooperative SOCOUMA
In 2015, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) started the pilot project of a CEMA (Center for Mechanized Services) with the farmers’ cooperative SOCOUMA in the administrative region of Ségou, Kouroumari. The main organizations involved in the project are SFSA, the cooperative of users of agricultural equipment (SOCOUMA) and the government agency Office of Niger (ON). CEMA is an independent GIE (Groupement d’intérêt économique/ economic interest groups) that manages and provides services with the machines and equipment that belong to the farmers’ cooperative SOCOUMA.
The small family farms of this area are characterized by their low level of mechanization, detrimental techniques of extensive production and poor links to markets. Further to these challenges can be added the following: agricultural land tenure, a poorly qualified and scarce workforce in rural areas, limited access to credit for producers, issues of effective management of producers’ organizations, low valuation of agricultural products, minimal training for producers, fluctuation in prices and instability of farm income.
The SFSA is committed to assist Mali to meet the challenge of food security and improve the quality of life of the population. The area of the Kouroumari is the second largest irrigated area of the Office of Niger with 34,304 hectares (ha) used by 11,078 farms; these are mainly smallholder farmers with little access to inputs.
The objective of the project is to increase the income of producers in the area, through the establishment of an independent enterprise CEMA that belongs to SOCOUMA. The farmers’ cooperative SOCOUMA is providing mechanization services and training for more than 1200 rice producers through the CEMA in order to increase production and productivity, as well as the quality of rice. This acts as a business center for individuals and associations involved in the rice value chain in the area, fostering the emergence of a focal point for development at the local level.
The SFSA and its partners have helped to constitute the farmers’ cooperative SOCOUMA and establish their agricultural equipment operating centers (CEMA) so they can have access through a guaranteed fund to inputs, credit, agricultural equipment and secure markets. To strengthen technical and management capacities, members of the CEMA have taken part in a number of relevant training sessions.
To achieve the objectives of the project, the SFSA works closely with the cooperative SOCOUMA, ON, IER (agricultural research institute in Mali), AfricaRice, National Bank for Agricultural Development (financial institution) and the cooperative of the blacksmiths of the Office of Niger (SOCAFON). In 2018, the project intends to expand the area of intervention and to work with the Office of Rice-Ségou and the CPEA (cell for the promotion of agricultural entrepreneurship).
- As of February 2018, the cooperative has two cultivators, seven rice reapers, and a mini combine harvester (with a trailer for its transportation). By March 2018, there will be a mini-rice mill to process paddy into rice.
- Access to fertilizer at the right time, combined with good agronomic practices, has allowed the members of the cooperative to move from 4.6 tons of paddy in 2014 (baseline study) to 6 tons in 2016. In 2016, an average of 2970 tons of paddy was produced on 495 ha.
- In the periods 2015-16 and 2016-17, the cooperative sold more than 325 tons of rice to traders and the government agency OPAM (Office de produits agricoles du Mali). For 2017-18 a contract has been signed with OPAM for 300 tons of rice.
- Between 2015 and 2017, the project supported more than 2000 people (members of the cooperative and their families) on 450–490 ha and more than 1300 non-members on 130 ha. Improvements which are impacting their lives and livelihoods include:
- access to prompt and appropriate inputs
- implementation of agricultural activities at the optimum date thanks to availability of equipment
- rice sales to traders at a good price resulting in increased revenue for producers