The "two teats" of Niger, livestock and agriculture, are critical to the country's economy. It goes beyond self-sufficiency--with the government's aspiration to create a vibrant value-added export sector
DESPITE NIGER'S SUBSTANTIAL natural resources, the country's economic growth depends largely on the performance of its primary sector, which is itself at the mercy of weather hazards.
Over 80% of the working population make up this mostly informal sector. With 400,000 children still facing malnutrition in 2016, Niger is trying to break free from its food insecurity by adding value and modernising its agriculture.
Faced with the practical non-existence of value chains, as well as a production culture still attached to very low-yield practices, Alhousseini Tambo Djibo, a young entrepreneur and member of the Niger SME Business Incubator (CIPMED), decided to take on the challenge.
Djibo's project, the Sahel Ranch, aims to create a "Red Maradi" goat breeding industry in the country and is actively looking for investors to develop this venture. "The Red Maradi goat has extraordinary characteristics: it gives birth twice a year under the right circumstances. However, despite the qualities and the business opportunities this species of goat promises, no company has attempted a large-scale breeding operation under a formal framework" he explains enthusiastically.
It is a line that echoes the government's desire to industrialise the two "teats of Niger": agriculture and livestock. "We want to transform the sector to create structured chains, moving from production to conservation to processing and, in time, to exporting," as Alma Oumarou, Minister for Trade frequently reiterates.
The 3N initiative (Nigeriens nourishing Nigeriens), launched by Mahamadou Issoufou in 2011, ought to be the vehicle of this transformation. It is tasked with "helping to raise the Nigerien people out of hunger and guaranteeing the conditions for them to participate fully in national production and increase their incomes," as well as "strengthening the nation's food production and supply capacity and resilience to food crises and disasters."
With this in mind a budget of $1.65bn over the 2012-15 period was put aside to grow agro-forestry-pastoral and fish production; create and increase access to rural and urban markets; improve irrigation and thus be less suceptible to changing weather patterns; and improve the nutritional health of Nigerien people. The 3N programme's...