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Making agricultural advice work for smallholder farmers

Large irrigation dams in West Africa are not delivering on their promise to significantly reduce the US$1 billion per year of rice imports to the region. Many smallholder farmers cultivating the land irrigated by large dams are struggling to make ends meet. Agricultural advisory services are meant to support these farmers, not just by providing technical advice, but also by connecting them with other service providers along the value chain. But there are large gaps between what is provided and smallholder farmers’ actual service needs.

This policy briefing was produced as part of the work by the Global Water Initiative (GWI) in West Africa, which is an initiative funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and implemented by IIED with IUCN.

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Agriculture in large-scale rice irrigation schemes needs to be made to work for both the state, in terms of economic returns and national food security, and for the smallholders whose livelihoods depend on it. When it comes to the development of new dams and large-scale irrigation, more information is needed about their economic viability and how the water, land, and economic benefits can be shared equitably to support local development.

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Global Water Initiative — West Africa