Niebe: A Food of Choice to Combat Hunger

The Niebe, commonly known as black-eyed peas, is a base food enjoyed in Senegal.  The leaves, green pots and dried seeds can all be consumed and marketed. This very nutritive crop, full of protein, folic acid, iron and zinc, makes it a food of choice to combat hunger and malnutrition and ensure food security in many African households.

Niebe: A Food of Choice to Combat Hunger

Constraints in the niebe value chain

Modou Seck, a Senegalese farmer in the region of Louga has been cultivating niebe for most of his life. Married with 7 children, every year he plant the black eyed peas on 3 hectares of his land. If the agricultural season is free of pests and the climate accommodating, he can harvest up to 2,5 tons.

“The niebe is a very good crop, it grows fast, in 45 days to 2 months you can harvest and it can easily be stored for up to one year”, explains Mr Seck. Modou stores some of  his production for his family consumption, taking the surplus on the local markets. “Although the demand is high, the price and its income is still low especially in rural areas. To get a better price, you need better seeds that are not always available and which cost more. You need enough money to invest in the inputs and a good market to make the most of the profit. Both are still challenges”, he says.

Despite its significance and its nutritional capacity for many households, the niebe value chain is not well developed and faces various constraints:

  • The lack of support, particularly in production and supply of quality seeds in sufficient quantity.

  • Minimal access to credit and equipment for producer organizations.

  • Failure to disseminate and access sustainable production techniques.

  • The lack of a promotion fund to facilitate access to quality inputs and suitable equipment.

  • Lack of knowledge on potential markets with no organized marketing system.

STARS supports the development of niebe

The Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS) program is working with producers’ organization in northern Senegal to find solutions to such challenges. The program conducted in-depth analysis of the niebe value chains to identify needs and gaps in the financing of each actor. That was done through gender sensitive value chain analyses using the M4P approach. Then the program used SCOPEinsight to conduct assessments on producers’ organizations’ strengths and weaknesses.

Farmers were supported in the development of capacity building plans and business plans to improve their governance. They were facilitated to build business relations with other actors in the value chain, including input suppliers, financing institutions, institutional buyers and operators.

Farmers were linked to agricultural business development services. STARS worked with RESOPP (an umbrella of cooperatives) and Elephant vert, (a company) to support the development of embedded services for niebe seed multiplying cooperatives.

Four cooperatives were trained, coached and supported to multiply black-eyed pea seed production. Each one has now a seed unit production certified with a stock that they can provide and serve its members. They have doubled their production! Two of the cooperatives have even been agreed by the Senegalese government as “Niebe/black eyed pea seed provider”.

Niebe day at a national Fair

In April, ICCO’s STARS program with niebe value chain actors, organized at the FIARA (Foire Internationale de l’Agriculture et des Ressources Animales) a day to communicate and advocate for the value chain. The Fair called for more government and private support for producers.

Solutions were proposed:

  • Strengthen the organizational capacities and dialogue of actors by setting up a professional structure and provide support for local financial assistance initiatives. A committee composed of cooperatives, RESOPP and ICCO/STARS will work with the national agency in charge of supporting creation of Interprofession (FNDASP) to boost the professional structure.

  • Through farmer field schools STARS will support producers organizations disseminate appropriate technical production and will support cooperatives perform their embedded services on certified seeds.

  • To support niebe farmers’ access to financial services,  STARS is developing the niebe value chain finance with MFIs to support actors in the value chain access credit, so they can buy inputs, production and storage equipment.

  • Support the production, access and use of quality seed as well as improve the storage and conservation of niebe, STARS through farmer fields schools is providing training with the support of RESOPP to use bag PICS or double-bag to improve the storage of niebe.

  • Develop the internal market: potential market knowledge, capacity building and capital capacity building, consumer information on product virtues. STARS is facilitating linkages between producers organizations and processing units, as well as linking farmers to institutional markets such as World Food Programme.

The sustainable development of the niebe value chain, will demand the efforts, commitment and partnership of public and private actors, so that niebe farmers can reach theirs full potential and improve their position in the chain and increase their income.

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