Niger, a new phase for the Irhazer project

July 08, 2014

The second session of the Steering Committee for the AREVA-funded Irhazer project, under the chairmanship of Mr Illa Djimrao, Secretary General of the Ministry of Agricul-ture, was held from June 12 to 14 in Agadez. This agropastoral project based in North Niger aims to strengthen the security of the country's food supply by developing irriga-tion systems in the desert areas.

The event was attended by representatives of the national, regional and local authori-ties, by farmers and civil society members as well as by an AREVA delegation led by Mr Ibrahim Courmo, AREVA’s Corporate Social Responsibility Director.

A progress report was presented on the actions already taken and still to be taken in the context of the pilot project set up following the financing agreement signed in January 2013 between AREVA and the State of Niger.

The two-year pilot project involves the Agharous and Tiguirwit sites located in the Irhazer valley where an agropastoral farm and an agricultural farm will be built. The aim is to train the local producers in agricultural techniques and assist them in a test on 100 hectares of irrigated cropland at the two pilot sites.

An awareness campaign involving all the stakeholders made it possible to set up the project’s basic structures. Development and rehabilitation work were initiated through establishing an irrigation network, installing new pumps on the Agharous and Tiguirwit wells, constructing shelters and perimeter fences and installing generators.

The Committee members were positive about the actions taken so far. Several rec-ommendations were also made, such as the need to speed up the evaluation of the pilot phase results in order to move more rapidly to the project’s development phase. Finally, a better visibility of the actions and greater involvement of the stakeholders were also discussed.

The entire pilot project is only the preliminary phase of a major development pro-gramme on 5000 hectares of the Irhazer valley and Tamesna plain that will benefit more than 2000 households organized into a producer association. AREVA has agreed to provide a financial support of 17 million euros.

According to Mr Illa Djimrao, Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture, the project is in perfect harmony with the objectives of the "3N" initiative of "Niger nourish-ing Niger" and will contribute to a restructuring of the region’s economy. Mr Djimrao also welcomed AREVA’s support.