This was another really insightful day meeting with Niger’s Prime Minister HE Brigi Rafini. He had genuine support for women and noted, “I am pleased to be seeing Niger’s women taking an increasing role in transforming agriculture in our country.”
I spoke with him about ICRISAT’s exciting advancements in pearl millet research – such as the drought tolerant varieties and those that are producing 30% more iron and zinc that will particularly benefit women and their families.
We also have a partnership with a women’s seed producers’ association which is producing about 60% of total groundnut seed production in the Dosso Region!
The important role women are playing was obvious when I visited the country’s national agricultural show, the Salon de l ‘agriculture, de l’hydraulique, de l’environnement et de l’élevage (SAHEL-Niger 2015).
Many women on the booths were showing their entrepreneurial talent by selling value-added products such as specially packaged and cleaned pearl millet, ground nuts and sorghum.
I couldn’t help noticing the youth at the show crowding around the three booths for mobile phone technologies for farmers, providing simple things like market price information. It’s a sign that mobile phones are penetrating into rural areas and especially through the youth.
The role of mobile technology in marketing, access to finance and knowledge exchange among smallholder farmers were discussed when I met both with the Minister of Agriculture, HE Maidagi Allembeye, and the new Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Kane Boulama Aichatou today.
The partners really appreciated that ICRISAT stood by them even in troubled times when many others left.