SAA/SAFE Board Chairperson, Prof. Ruth Oniang’o visited Benin

 

SAA/SAFE Board Chair, Prof. Ruth Oniang’o, accompanied by Dr. Deola Naibakelao (Managing Director, SAFE), Dr. Mercy Akeredolu (East/Southern Africa Coordinator, SAFE), and Engr. Leonides Halos-Kim (Thematic Director, Sasakawa Africa Association)  visited Benin from March 18-23, 2017 on the invitation of H.E. Mr. Nicéphore D. Soglo, former President of the Republic of Benin and Member of SAA/SAFE Board.

The objectives of the trip were to:
1) Review the status of SAFE interventions in the Republic of Benin
2) Look at SG2000’s legacy in the country
3) Learn about the Government’s agricultural programs

The SAA/SAFE team arrived at Cotonou on March 18, 2017 and was personally welcomed at the airport by former President, Nicéphore D. Soglo accompanied by government officials.

After a formal introduction and briefing of the visiting team at the Azalai Hotel Place, the team paid a courtesy call on President Soglo at his residence.

On March 20, 2017, the team met with Dr. Delphin Koudande, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. The Minister highlighted the government’s agricultural program which focuses on increasing productivity, improving soil fertility, value addition to products and the deployment and training of 5,000 youth in the Ouémé Valley Agricultural Project.

In her response, Prof. Ruth Oniang’o indicated that SAA is happy to learn that it had contributed to improving the productivity of major food crops and it did not actually leave without impact – as shown by the scaling up of good practices by the government. She also indicated that the SAFE program is active in Benin. For example, the University of Abomey-Calavi has developed and implemented the distance learning program for extension workers who cannot leave their jobs for long periods of time. The distance learning program is also addressing the specific training needs of women. Prof. Ruth Oniang’o appealed to the government to:

1. support the program by releasing its personnel for training,
2. give special focus on women and
3. support agriculture both for family and national incomes, as well as for family food and nutrition.

The team also met with the Management Staff of MAEP (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries). In attendance were Heads and representatives of various units. The MAEP Secretary General, Dr. Françoise Assogba- Komlan, informed informed that SG 2000 Benin was active from 1989 to 2001 and had contributed to the agricultural development of the country through the introduction of good farming practices. These interventions resulted in improved yields to combat food insecurity and training programs that improved the indigenous capacities of farmers to sustain their yields. She also highlighted the challenges faced by the Ministry in scaling-up good practices and in providing more advisory services. She stressed that the partnership must continue. The action plan for the agricultural development program was also presented.

Dr. Glehouenou highlighted SG2000’s interventions and its impact in Benin.The country   is scaling up on what SG2000 had done. The scaling up of the CREP by the relevant ministries is a good example of impact.

Prof. Ruth Oniang’o commended the government for its efforts at streamlining its agricultural development program. She however drew attention to the issue of climate change, cautioning that they should include measures to mitigate climate change. It was noted from the plan that a good government support is in place. The importance of mechanization, the role of women in value addition and the existence of well-trained extension staff were also emphasized.

The team visited the Institut National de la Recherche Agricole du Benin (INRAB). A presentation on the activities of INRAB was made and followed by a visit to the technology display room, and the vegetable research farm. Prof. Ruth Oniang’o congratulated the staff for their assistance to farmers and asked them to keep engaging farmers in the research development process and make sure that research products reach the intended users.

On March 21, 2017, the team visited University of Abomey-Calavi and met with the Rector, Prof. Sinsin Brice. He informed the team that the University was established in 1970 under the name “University of Dahomey” .It was renamed in 1975 as “National University of Benin” (UNB) and again renamed in 2001 as “University of Abomey-Calavi” (UAC). The Rector, Vice-Rector, Deans and Directors are democratically elected. He put current the students’ population at 85,000 distributed over 5 campuses. UAC started running a 12-month Volunteer Service Program since 2013 to empower graduates with needed skills to become transformationleaders in their communities. UAC receives support from the Governments of Benin and the Netherlands.

Prof. Ruth Oniang’o particularly appreciated the interest and commitment of the government for SAFE. She emphasized that Sasakawa is not a donor but a partner. The leading and mentoring role that SAFE Benin is playing for other Francophone SAFE programs was stressed by the team.

The discussions with the Dean, Prof. Joseph Honhouigan focused on:

1. The need to revisit the MoU between SAFE and the University in light of the new action of the government on agriculture;
2. The need to step up the support to train more extension workers; and
3. The award of scholarships to women in order to boost their participation in the program.

SAFE Coordinator, Dr. Simplice Vodouhe gave an update of the SAFE program at UAC which started in 2003. The training lasts 3 years and leads to the award of B.Sc. Degree in Agricultural Extension. The Distance Learning version of the program has been established and targets extension workers, especially women, who cannot afford to be away from their jobs for 3 consecutive years. Seventy-three (73) mid-career staff (21 females and 52 males) are benefiting from this program. There is a pool of more than 1,000 candidates who can enroll in the SAFE program.

The team also met with SAFE alumni association. The “Benin Association of Professional Agricultural Extension /Advisory” (ABPVCA) was established in 2009 with support from SAFE. It is now contributing to all levels of the decision-making bodies related to agricultural extension.


A visit to Food Science laboratory of the School of Nutrition Science and Food Technologies was organized for the team after which along with  President Soglo visited IITA (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture), Cotonou Station, to learn about its activities.

On March 21, 2017, the  team led by former President Soglo and Prof. Ruth met with the current President of Benin,  H. E. President Patrice Guillaume Talon. The meeting also had in attendance the Minister of Agriculture and the Technical Permanent Secretary (MAEP). The team briefed the President on the activities and achievements of SG2000 and SAFE in the country. The adoption of the technologies introduced by SG2000 by farmers,as well as  the training of extension personnel were emphasized.

In response, the President acknowledged the good legacy of SAA and its current value chain approach. In conclusion he requested the Minister to come up with a concrete plan for the partnership to happen.

On March 22, 2017, the last day of the visit, the team visited Songhai Center. Its Director General, Fr. Godfrey explained the mission and vision of the Center and then took the team on a tour of the various facilities.

The visit to Benin ended with a wrap-up meeting and dinner organized with MAEP staff. The Secretary General of MAEP, Dr. Françoise Assogba-Komlan was very impressed by the visit and expressed appreciation of the work of SAA/SAFE in Benin and the impact so far.

Prof. Ruth Oniang’o also thanked the MAEP team for their hospitality and well-coordinated program of the visit. She also noted the existence of good governance and leadership in Benin. She advised MAEP to collaborate closely with UAC in the training of their extension staff and encouraged the participation of more women in training programs.





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Vision 2020

Effective extension delivery systems in Sub-Saharan Africa that are based on farmer needs and demands along the entire agricultural value chain, with a special focus on smallholder farmers, most of whom are women.

SAFE Mission

Strengthening agricultural education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to provide demand driven, value chain oriented, training for mid-career agricultural advisory workers.

 

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Publications

  • Feeding The Future: Special SAFE Anniversary Edition - 2013Download
  • Progrees Report of the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education: 2011-2012 Download
  • Proceedings of the 2006 SAFE Regional Networking Workshop - Tanzania Download
  • Proccedings of the 2008 SAFE Regional Technical Networking Workshop - Nigeria Download
  • Proccedings of the 2009 SAFE Regional Technical Networking Workshop - Ethiopia Download
  • Proccedings of the 2010 SAFE Regional Technical Networking Workshop - Ghana Download
  • Proccedings of the 2011 SAFE Regional Technical Networking Workshop - Malawi Download
  • Proccedings of the 2012 SAFE Regional Technical Networking Workshop - Benin
    [French] Download
  • Proccedings of the 2012 SAFE Regional Technical Networking Workshop - Benin
    [English] Download
  • Proccedings of the 2013 SAFE Regional Technical Networking Workshop - Tanzania Download
  • Proccedings of the 2014 SAFE Regional Technical Networking Workshop - Mali Download
  • Proccedings of the 2015 SAFE Regional Technical Networking Workshop - Uganda Download
  • A Case Study on Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education Programs in Ghana - 2007Download
  • Impact Assessment of the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education Program in Ghana - 2007 Download
  • A Case Study on Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education Programs in Ghana - 2008 Download
  • Impact Assessment of the B.Sc. Program for Mid Career Extension Professionals at Haramaya University, Ethiopia- 2010Download
  • Assessment of the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education's Training Program at Alemaya University, Ethiopia - 2005Download
  • Assessment of the SAFE Program in Mali with Special Focus on SEPs - PhD Dissertation - 2010Download
  • Évaluation du programme de Maîtrise en Vulgarisation Agricole - IPR/IFRA [Mali] - 2010 Download