Food Security in Benin
Food security programs such as agricultural training and food banks sustain the nutritional needs of communities through all seasons and any unforeseen environmental challenges.
Sixteen of Benin’s 18 epicenters have food banks with a holding capacity around 20,000 kilograms of food on average. The food bank creates a buffer against famine, and a place for crops to be stored, so they do not need to be sold immediately. Warrantage programs allow the farmers to save their crops until a better time to sell and, at the same time, use them as collateral for small loans. Twelve of the epicenters have such warrantage programs in place. The main crops grown in Benin are black-eyed peas, corn, manioc, oil palm, banana, rice, yam, peanuts, tomato, banana, pineapple, soy and sorghum and the harvest is either July and August, or October to January, depending on the epicenter.
Benin also pioneered a food production competition, which provides impetus for the farmers, and results in increased stocks in the food banks. There are 37 active food security animators among the epicenters, and three of the epicenters have a food-processing unit that includes food-processing equipment, such as a corn mill, oil and manioc presses, and the equipment to produce moringa powder. This food processing equipment allows the partners to sell their crops at a higher price in the market.
Seventeen of the epicenters both distribute and subsidize fertilizer (jointly with the government in some cases). Kissamey and Kpinnou Epicenters use sprinklers to irrigate, and Dékpo uses flexible pipes.
Partners in all of the epicenters participate in animal husbandry for food and agricultural labor purposes. Sheep, goats and chicken are the most popular animals raised by epicenter partners, followed by pigs and grasscutters, and several epicenters keep bees, snails, rabbits and cows for use in various food and income generating programs.