A $121-million project in the Bélier region of the Côte d’Ivoire will help to achieve food self-sufficiency in a region that has experienced 30 years of economic decline despite having great potential.
This is the view of African Development Bank vice president for agriculture, human and social development, Beth Dunford. In September this year, she led a mission to Yamoussoukro, the capital city of Côte d’Ivoire, to assess progress made on an agro-industrial cluster in Bélier.
Joining Dunford were a host of dignitaries, including Marie-Laure Akin Olugbade, director general for West Africa, and bank directors for agriculture and agroindustry as well as for agricultural finance and rural development, Martin Fregene and Atsuko Toda, respectively. They were received by Adjoumani Kobenan, minister for agriculture and rural development in the Côte d’Ivoire.
The African Development Bank has provided $121 million in financing to the Bélier agro-industrial cluster. This represents 80% of the project cost, the first agropole in Côte d’Ivoire. The project aims to also revive the agricultural sector.
Project officials said Bélier has achieved 44% of its work plan and is projected to be complete by December 2022. Work is complete on 542 kilometres of a planned 700-kilometer track and officials to the mission that land preparation for rice cultivation and market gardening is also nearly complete.
The project has already repaired 100 manual pumps and constructed 50 boreholes and 30 latrines. This hydraulic infrastructure will serve more than 180 villages with nearly 628 000 people, including an estimated 310 000 women.
“The agriculture business is developing well. We are working to revitalize the promising sectors of rice, corn, cassava and vegetable cultivation, piggery, and fish farming,” said project coordinator Valerie Acka.
According to Acka 120 small and medium-sized businesses will be established in the zone.
A model for other projects
After the government ministers and bank delegation were briefed on Bélier, Dunford said that the project’s successes could be replicated in other regions of Côte d’Ivoire and beyond. “The presentation on the project gave us a very good idea of what’s been happening and importantly, what still needs to get done.”
Bank governor and minister Nialé said the completed project will improve the income and living conditions of the target population. She noted that “it is important that we can learn from the difficulties encountered in this project so that we do not have to encounter them later in other such projects. This project must serve as a real model for others.”
“The industrial zone is taking shape, with the installation of food and non-food industries that process livestock feed, cashew nuts and rice.”Project coordinator Valerie Acka
He called for diligence in dealing with the difficulties that have emerged to work more efficiently.
The delegation also visited the Subiakro agricultural development and the project’s industrial zone, including the premises of Southland Global agriculture. The company specialises in processing cashew nuts for domestic and international markets, and employs 1 300 people, more than half of them women. Southland Global has an annual processing capacity of 24 000 tonnes and aims to increase production to 45 000 tonnes.