|Distri’Solidaire project : Distribution networks for the sale of local agricultural products
Developing production and marketing systems
In Benin, the rural exodus is leading to an increase in the size of large cities (2.7% growth per year), which in turn is driving up demand for food products. Transforming food systems to make them more resilient and sustainable is becoming a major challenge for the years to come. Yet while the agricultural sector accounts for 34% of national GDP and employs 70% of the working population, local production is struggling to meet demand and food security problems persist. As a result of poor control of distribution channels by producers – more than a third of whom live below the poverty line – there are no commercial outlets for surplus production of certain local products. The increase in out-of-home catering, the higher demand for quality and the demand for processed and imported products are also holding back the development of local products. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has had the effect of slowing down production activities and the supply of food products to towns and the countryside, leading to a drop in income and a risk of food and nutritional insecurity. To guarantee fair outlets, the agricultural and commercial sectors need to become more professional, opting for mass distribution approaches that bring local products closer to a larger number of consumers.
To meet these challenges and contribute to the transformation of food systems, it would seem appropriate to support the professionalisation of agricultural sectors in terms of product processing and distribution. To achieve this, Acting for Life and its local partner Hortitechs Développement are focusing on a number of areas: the efficiency of the distribution network, short, innovative and fair marketing channels, and a fair distribution of the added value created; professionalising the processing of agricultural products to ensure longer shelf life, better quality and greater recognition and diversity of products; and raising people’s awareness of the challenges of local and responsible consumption. The aim of the Distri’Solidaire project is to ensure that local produce is accessible and available to a greater number of households and to improve the resilience of Benin‘s food systems through better control of downstream supply chains.
The Distri’Solidaire project aims to
- Strengthen downstream agricultural sectors by supporting the distribution and market access of local produce through the social and solidarity economy;
- Strengthening resilient practices in small food processing units;
- Encouraging stakeholders to work together towards a transition in food systems.
Key indicators and impacts of the Distri’Solidaire project
- Shops specialising in the distribution of local products are being supported through a social and solidarity economy model in close collaboration with processors: support for entrepreneurial management; improved promotion and marketing strategies; support and diversification of distribution networks.
- Sustainable and resilient agri-food processing practices are being disseminated and adopted by small units: bringing processing units up to standard (3 processing units have been fitted out to HACCP standards); providing units with processing and preservation equipment; supporting the quality and certification process.
- Local stakeholders are working to promote local supply chains and the sustainable development of food systems: raising awareness and mobilising key stakeholders around food issues, creating fair and sustainable commercial partnerships, capitalising on and disseminating learning.
- The direct beneficiaries targeted by this project include distributors (3 specialist shops in Allada, Bohicon and Parakou), processors (10 processing units, including 3 Amap units) and consumers of local produce (in 4 departments: Littoral, Atlantique, Zou and Borgou).