Bobo Dioulasso is a farming city in Burkina Faso. After cotton, cereals are the second largest agricultural product in terms of area grown. Many women are involved in farming, but also in business in this area of the country, generating income as retailers or wholesalers.
Information about prices is important so that both farmers and sellers can make the best profit. Many farmers are still not receiving the best price information despite the existence of SIMA, an information system that collects and distributes daily prices for agro-pastoral products. This interactive platform connects producers and vendors in order to regulate and promote buying and selling by sharing daily cereal prices both on the platform and in local media. But many farmers don’t know how to access it.
Aminata Tapsoba has been growing cowpea for the past six years on one hectare of land offered by her husband. Her harvest allows her to supplement her husband’s income when necessary to feed the family. Otherwise, she sells it to support her own needs.
She says, “Other than an emergency, I often wait until there is a good market price to sell my beans. To learn the prices, I go myself to the market or I send someone to learn for me.”
Awa Ouédraogo has been farming on three hectares since 2002. She grows rice and cowpea, among other crops. Like Mrs. Tapsoba, she learns about prices directly from the market. However, she says, “The price of cereals does not affect the area of land I cultivate in any way. I invest according to my ability to afford it.”
The SIMA platform should give all farmers access to price information, but these two farmers don’t use it. Mrs. Ouédraogo says she knows about the platform, but doesn’t use it because she doesn’t know how. There was a training opportunity, but she missed it because her child was sick.
The SIMA platform collects, processes, and disseminates information on agricultural product markets. It was launched in 2015 by the director general of rural economic promotion to support cereal marketing. The platform is also available to traders.
Emmanuel Ouattara is responsible for SIMA in the Hauts Bassins region of western Burkina Faso. He says that the platform helps protect producers from being abused by corrupt traders. He explains: “Generally it is traders who set prices. By providing information on the buying price at several strategic markets, producers have a base with which to negotiate with buyers. We play, in effect, the role of mediator and interface between producer and buyer. The goal is to allow farmers to profit greatly from the fruits of their labour.”
Ajda Terra is a cereal exporter who has been selling in Niger for the past 20 years. She is a member of the SIMA platform. She says, “Thanks to this platform, I often come into contact with producers from whom I can get a large quantity of cereals. To resell outside the country, specifically in Niger, I work with regular suppliers.”
Mr. Ouattara says that production contracts are another advantage for producers. He says: “It is a process in which the buyer, who can be an individual or a project, enters into a contract with the producer. The buyer agrees with the producer on a given quantity at an agreed price. So the grower knows what he will get paid at the harvest.”
Mitema Soulama is the president of Wekayin farmer group and has benefited from contract farming. The group consists of 93 women and 45 men who grow rice on 32 hectares of developed lowland in Tiempagora, 30 kilometres from Banfora in the Cascades region. The group is connected to a rice mill and is contracted to provide 40 tonnes of rice at 140,000 FCFA ($235 US) per tonne.
This type of contract can be coordinated through the SIMA system. But Mr. Ouattara says the platform is not well-known amongst farmers and traders. He explains that they have focused their training and education on large cereal producer organizations. Sometimes people come to their offices to learn about the platform. But there isn’t a large budget for field trips to train more farmers on how to use it.
Nevertheless, Mr. Ouatarra is confident that these shortcomings will be addressed through a new project being put in place to address resilience and agricultural competitiveness.
This resource is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.