Inventory credit to enhance food security in Africa

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12 February 2019

In many African countries, rural households typically sell their output immediately after harvest and then have to face the lean season in often dramatic conditions. This paper explores whether alleviating both credit and storage constraints through an inventory credit (or warrantage) program in Burkina Faso is associated with improvements in household food insecurity and dietary diversity. We partnered with a rural bank and a nation-wide organization of farmers to evaluate a warrantage system with seventeen villages in the western region of Burkina Faso. In randomly chosen treatment villages, the households were offered a loan in exchange for storing a portion of their harvest as a physical guarantee in one of the newly-built warehouses of the project. We show that, after three seasons, the warrantage program has extended users’ self-subsistence period by an average of seventeen days, increased the average size of the farmby one and a half hectares (one additional hectare of cotton and one additional half hectare of maize) and increased dietary diversity significantly, with more fish, fruit and oil consumed weekly.