© Fatoumata Diabate

Dynamizing Agriculture for the Youth

© Fatoumata Diabate

Due to a lack of job opportunities, many young Malians leave the countryside for cities, the gold mines or abroad. The project Jigitugu, «Fulfilling hopes,» trains young farmers in sustainable and market-oriented agriculture.

  • Project Name
    Jigitugu - "Fulfilling hopes"
  • Project Phase
    2021 to 2024
  • Funding
    This project is funded by the Liechtenstein Development Service (LED)
  • Thematic focus
    Private Sector Development
    Food & Nutrition

Fields for innovative agriculture

Over time, the inhabitants of the semi-arid Sahel region have developed agricultural techniques and production methods that are adapted to their extremely dry climate. They were able to feed their families in normal years. However, circumstances are no longer normal due to climate change. It has become impossible to predict the start and duration of rainy seasons. Rainfall is either insufficient or brings a deluge that causes flooding. This puts a strain on the food security of families, whose reserves are rarely enough to ensure subsistence between harvests.

In addition, small-scale farmers are often unable to generate enough production for sufficient income because they have difficulty obtaining fertilizer and suitable seeds, lack technical skills, and need greater access to information and advisory services.

Young women and men, who make up the majority of the rural population, are particularly affected by this situation and currently have few opportunities to create solid financial independence. Many of them seek a better life by migrating to urban centers or gold mining areas, where they hope to find more employment opportunities.

© Helvetas / Mody Conde
Kalifa Sogoba, a market gardener in Kimparana, says «I decided to engage in agro-ecology because it is an agriculture that respects the environment, my own health and that of my clients.» © Helvetas / Mody Conde
© Helvetas / Mody Conde
In Jigitugu's intervention areas, five artisans manufacture agricultural tools (threshers, hullers, sifters, winnowers and seeders) adapted to the local context. © Helvetas / Mody Conde
© Helvetas
The demand among the youth is high, but only those who are really motivated make it into the training class. © Helvetas
© Helvetas/Mody Conde
Moussa Koné from Kimparana was a gold digger, but has now learned new skills. He says, «I participated in a training on breeding and Jigitugu taught me to fly on my own.» © Helvetas/Mody Conde

Helvetas is contributing to the development of agriculture in rural Mali through a project called Jigitugu, which means «Fulfilling hopes.» Young farmers are being trained in agricultural trades (e.g., agro-ecology, marketing of new vegetable varieties, poultry breeding). Agricultural techniques are being modernized and adapted to climatic hazards, and production is increasingly oriented towards local or regional markets. With this approach, shea butter, a traditional cosmetic skincare product, has a chance to emerge on the regional or even international market. Sesame and fonio, ancient drought-resistant cereals, are also increasingly popular with the urban middle class.

Quality training adapted to community needs

The project offers young people and women the opportunity to receive quality vocational training that is adapted to their needs. The courses, which are practical and short in duration, are organized in communities and taught by local experts. Producers, breeders and craftsmen pass new sustainable agriculture techniques and good breeding practices to the learners, while supporting them in the creation of a business plan to improve the marketing of their products. The local experts also ensure continued access to innovations and technical advice for small-scale farmers.

Young people and women see their income increase as well as their self-confidence, because they realize that they can actively develop future careers in agriculture. They also see that they can use their abilities to advance not only their families, but their entire communities.

Helvetas also works with the public sector to improve the framework conditions for agricultural enterprises, help promote the agroforestry and fisheries sectors, and develop quality vocational training systems.

© Helvetas / Mody Conde
«The land is the only resource that benefits the one who exploits it, regardless of whether you are male or female.»

Ramata Traore, sesame producer in Yanfolila

Private Sector Development

Youth need access to reliable, fairly paid jobs to break the cycle of poverty. Helvetas creates partnerships and promotes policies that build more inclusive economies.

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