PEP national policy conference held in Niger to discuss findings on the impact of rural off-farm self-employment opportunities

August 12, 2016 | Niamey, Niger

A team of local PEP researchers in Niger held a national policy conference in Niamey to present their findings on the impact of rural off-farm self-employment opportunities

August 12, 2016 - a team of local PEP researchers organized a policy conference in Niamey, Niger to share and discuss their findings on the impact of rural off-farm self-employment opportunities as well as to reflect on the structural transformation of rural areas.

Organized in collaboration with the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD Niger) and the Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, the event attracted key policy actors from the national government as well as from national and international organizations. Many academics and several journalists also attended.

In this study – selected for support under the PAGE initiative in 2014 – the researchers analyzed data for 1942 agricultural households from the 2011 ECVMA survey in Niger. The data was used to analyze determining factors in agricultural households’ decisions to take part in off-farm self-employment, and to estimate the effect of that decision on the households (e.g. in terms of food security). The team’s analysis indicates a number of factors that “push” households into off-farm self-employment including: price changes of agricultural inputs and outputs, social relations and infrastructure, as well as land-size and credit constraints. The team also found that off-farm self-employment contributes to increased agricultural spending on inputs but reduces the likelihood of hiring labor. Off-farm self-employment also decreases food insecurity in terms of food accessibility.

Based on these findings, the researchers believe there is scope to develop the non-farm sector in rural Niger. The team recommends encouraging rural entrepreneurship initiatives, implementing training programs to increase skill levels and the use of technology, and working to reduce barriers such as credit constraints. Furthermore, the research team suggests combining complementary self-employment, agricultural and social protection policies as a cost-effective strategy to reduce food insecurity and alleviate agricultural constraints. Find out more about the research methods, findings, and subsequent policy recommendations in the following PEP publications: Working Paper 2016-08 (full paper) and Policy Brief 128.

The main objectives of the conference were to convey these findings and recommendations to key stakeholders and policy actors while providing an opportunity to discuss structural transformation in rural Niger, interventions to increase agricultural production, and how to improve food security. Among the attendees were representatives for the governmental 3N (Nigeriens Nourishing Nigeriens) Initiative High Commission and the National Agency for Employment, the National Statistics Institute, Oxfam Niger, and the Development Research Institute.

Main outcomes

As well as a channel to convey the researcher’s findings and recommendations, the conference provided an opportunity for the team to engage key policy actors and stakeholders in the topic of rural off-farm self-employment and its effects. Policy actors and academics were able to share their respective experience on the topic and new discussions, such as the necessity to further research structural transformation and resilience, were introduced. Furthermore, the necessity for collaboration between researchers and policy actors was cemented.

During the conference two key governmental policy actors, Dr Bourahima Barkiré Gabdakoze of the 3N Initiative, and Mr Noufou Insa, coordinator of CAPED (Cellule d’analyse et de prospective en développement) and senior advisor to the Prime Minister, congratulated the team on the relevance of their research and efforts to draw attention to particular rural development questions. Dr Gabdakoze of the 3N Initiative - which coordinates all policies, strategies and programs contributing to food security and sustainable agricultural development - also said that the conclusions and recommendations would be discussed during the policy making process at the ministerial level and would inform the 3N Initiative Strategic Plan for 2016-2020.

As well as promises of future collaborations in policy making, the team also benefitted from national media coverage with a national television station reporting the event during their daily news program the day of the conference.

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