In Niger, the year 2022 was marked by a serious food crisis due to catastrophic harvests. The rural populations, already weakened by poverty, food insecurity, climate change and the rise in food prices due to the crisis in Ukraine, saw their harvests reduced to nothing. SWISSAID reacted quickly by supporting the inhabitants of the departments of Boboye, Dogondoutchi and Kollo, to ensure the availability and distribution of quality local seeds and food parcels.

Rakia Magaji and Zeinabou Danboye have both benefited from the emergency project. We heard their stories at the beginning of the year, when the granaries were empty and anxiety was growing. In December, Djenab Touré, SWISSAID Niger’s communications manager, returned to the commune of Kiéché, where Rakia and Zeinabou live, to evaluate the results of the 2022 winter agricultural campaign. And the news is rather good.

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Millet and cowpeas in profusion

In June, Rakia Magaji reported the distress she felt after the rains stopped suddenly, far too early in the season. Her fields had dried up and she feared the worst for her and her 6 children. However, six months later, Rakia poses in her backyard, smiling, in front of mountains of cowpeas and millet: “The winter campaign has done well this year. I have never harvested so much cowpea! The seeds I received from SWISSAID are of good quality. I was able to harvest 500 kg of millet and 100 kg of cowpeas on a small area. I was able to build up a stock that we can use for at least five months”. For the farmer, fear has given way to optimism, and she can now reuse the resistant millet and cowpea seeds for the next sowings.

The winter campaign was very successful this year. I have never harvested so much cowpea!

Rakia Magaji benefited from emergency assistance in 2022. She received quality seeds to plant her fields for the winter harvest. A harvest that seems to have been fruitful!

Better living conditions

Like Rakia Magaji, the bad memories of last year seem far away from Zeinabou Danboye. “The winter campaign was much better than last year’s! Thanks to the food parcels distributed by SWISSSAID, we were able to cope with the lean season and plough our fields during this period”, explains the farmer. Although her harvest was smaller than Rakia’s, due to the fact that her fields are located in an area that suffered from delayed rains, Zeinabou confirms that “the seeds distributed are of good quality. There have been no germination problems.” While just a few months ago she testified that she and her children were in survival mode due to lack of food, the farmer now gratefully declares: “Our living conditions have improved significantly.”

The drought led my household to starvation,

Zeinabou Danboye testified in 2022 after a terrible drought destroyed all her crops. Today, she is smiling again. The nightmare is far behind.

The help doesn't stop

It is now hoped that the next harvest will be good so that the granaries will be filled and the rural populations of this region of eastern Niger will be safe during the lean season. SWISSAID Niger is ready to deploy emergency aid if this is not the case, so that people do not go hungry next winter.