Rice-fish farming in Guinée Forestière – outcome of a rural development project
02 Feb 2009
1Economist, Project Manager, Fisheries and fish farming projects, Agence française de développement, Paris, France
2Economist, Agence française de développement, Paris, France
Abstract. The rice-fish farming project in Guinée Forestière launched in 2000 was, at the outset, a pilot project for the purpose of testing the introduction of a new production technique in an impoverished and landlocked region. It aimed to improve food security for people living in the region and to promote the creation of income through a diversification of activity and better land use. The intervention strategy followed the template used in Côte d'Ivoire for a similar project. It consisted in supporting groups of voluntary producers who were ready to accept the risk of financing lowland developments to produce fish and rice. The project was supported by a small group, mainly composed of volunteers (expatriates) and local facilitators recruited as the project activities progressed. A €1.8 million grant was donated by the Agence Française de Développement, raised between 2000 and 2008, to cover technical assistance and training expenditures.
The project gave precedence to the concept of actor autonomy for the development of lowlands and ponds.
Investments were financed and implemented by the producers themselves depending on their available resources in funds and labour. Animal husbandry methods, based on extensive mixed cropping, used no other inputs than those available on the farm itself. The fish farmers themselves supplied alevins.
To ensure the sustainability of rice-fish farming activities after the project ended, special emphasis was given to providing a structure for the profession in the future by encouraging the members of the groups to sponsor and train new candidates.
Although results exceeded the initial targets since, by the end of the project, 350 farmers and 500 ponds were active, lowland rice and fish production is still limited. It does provide, however, regular supplies of fish to approximately 6000 people, calculated according to the low level of local consumption (10 kg/per year/per person).
The impact of the project is considerable. In economic terms, lowland development is an excellent profit opportunity since it multiplies farmers' incomes by six, two thirds of which are from fish farming and the remaining third by rice. The lowland development technique reduces the time required to cultivate rice by 30%. As a result, these benefits are attracting a large number of new potential entrants.
The impact on the environment is also positive, in particular due to the improvement of soil fertility and the beneficial effects of ponds on the natural environment.
Finally, these good results have led to plans for new projects to prolong and consolidate existing benefits and to repeat the system in other countries.