In March 2018, stakeholders identified along the fonio and Bambara groundnut value chains were invited to crop-specific meetings to share back results of the value chain studies and discuss ways forward to overcome challenges for production, marketing and consumption of these crops.

Weak value chain development is partly a result of the narrow focus of agricultural research and development, which has neglected many local crops important in traditional food systems. Overcoming weaknesses in marketing these crops requires attention to enhance their processing, trading, marketing and retailing, which can in turn help leverage their benefits for strengthening food security, alleviating poverty, and increasing the resilience and sustainability of farming systems in face of climate change.

Dr Yara Koreissi, Food and Nutrition Technologist at IER
(wearing a yellow headdress) describes dishes developed
with Bambara groundnut, Koutiala, Mali.
Credit: Bioversity International/G.Lochetti
Bioversity International and the Institute of Rural Economy (IER) have been working to promote value chain development of fonio and Bambara groundnut in Mali through ‘Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk’, a project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the European Commission  and theand the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), and the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). that is currently in its fourth and final year of implementation. Detailed value chain assessments were carried out in 2017 by Charlie Mbosso, Market and Gender Specialist, Bioversity International.
Fonio (above) and Bambara groundnut harvested in Mali.
Credit: Bioversity International/G.Meldrum
More than a hundred stakeholders – such as farmers, traders, restaurateurs, journalists and representatives from NGOs, government bodies, farmer’s groups and cooperatives – took part in these meetings. They engaged in stimulating, and at times passionate, discussions on how to increase consumers’ demand and improve cultivation of fonio and Bambara groundnut in Mali. The groups were challenged to develop innovative solutions to the identified bottlenecks.

Each crop presents peculiar challenges and opportunities: a message that clearly emerged during the meetings. In the case of fonio, harvesting and especially processing are time-consuming and problematic. Cleaning and sand removal are complicated by the small dimensions of fonio grains, which need to undergo long processing. The cleaned and polished fonio – while more attractive to consumers – is however poorer in micronutrients and dietary fibre due to the removal of the outer part of the cereal. Small producers also face difficulties in linking to a disorganized market. The price farmers receive is too low to motivate them to produce and sell fonio, while the final price is too high for most consumers to access processed fonio.

This post was originally published at PAEPARD by François Stepman. It has been republished here with permission.

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