Vol. 10(2), pp. 55-63, February 2018
Article Number: 4D5D5CD55565
Author(s) retain the copyright of this article
Journal of Development and Agricultural
Full Length Research Paper
Use of a warrantage system to face rural poverty and
hunger in the semi-arid area of Burkina Faso
Badiori Ouattara1*, Sibiri Jean Baptiste Taonda1, Arahama Traoré1, Idriss Sermé1,
François Lompo1, Derek Peak2, Michel P. Sédogo1 and André Bationo3
1Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Burkina Faso.
2Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan (UofS), Canada.
3Department of Soil Science, International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC), 70,
Rue ESBTAO Hountigomé - BP 4483 Lomé - Togo Lomé, Togo.
Received 9 April, 2017; Accepted 1 August, 2017
It is widely believed that limited access of small scale farmers to agricultural credit is one of the key
causes of rural poverty and a major constraint to adoption of innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since
the early 1960s, many strategies to access agricultural credits have been implemented with success.
This study assessed the effects of warrantage, a community-based micro credit system, on poor small
resource farmers’ income and livelihoods of the semi-arid area of Burkina Faso. Two broad socio
economic surveys were conducted among 1040 farmers and 440 household heads. Data were collected
from 58 inventory credit warehouses and 36 input shops established in the study areas. The results
showed that the warrantage system is dominated by women farmers (who produce 60% of the stored
harvests) and appears as the main source of agricultural credit. The profit (up to 140%) provided allows
farmers to purchase external inputs such as inorganic fertilizers. This resulted in higher crop
productivity and a substantial increase of farmers’ income which in turn improve farmers’ livelihood.
Key words: Inventory credit system, mineral fertilizer, staple crop production, small farmers.
Agriculture is the engine of economic growth in the Semi-
Arid Sudano-Sahelian zone of West Africa. According to
FAO (2012), it is practiced by 80% of the population and
provides 35% of the countries’ gross domestic product
(GDP). Despite the efforts of the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger,
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is still facing a very large food
deficit contributing to hunger, poverty and malnutrition
(FAOSTAT, 2010; Schaffert, 2007). Food production is
becoming insufficient because of the growing population.
According to Adesina (2009) and Bationo and Wasma
(2011), the decrease in agricultural productivity is linked
to poor natural resources, unadaptable socio-economic
and policy environment and to inappropriate climatic
Agricultural soils in the Sahelian zone are characterized
by predominantly sandy texture and low organic matter
which results in very low fertility, particularly with respect
*Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com.
Author(s) agree that this article remain permanently open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License 4.0 International License
56 J. Dev. Agric. Econ.
to soil phosphorus and nitrogen (Buerkert et al., 2001;
Van Straaten, 2011). This systemic deficiency drastically
limits crop growth and yield. Furthermore, these poor-
structured soils are prone to runoff and erosion, resulting
in the further depletion of their productive capacity
(Bationo and Waswa, 2011; Sermé et al., 2016).
To address land hunger in the West African Sahel lies
in the intensification of agriculture and in the use of
external inputs (specifically inorganic fertilizers) which
could increase soil productivity (Van Keulen and Breman,
1990; Bationo et al., 2014). Although, integrated soil
fertility management (ISFM) techniques have been
developed by both national agricultural research systems
(NARS) and international research organizations, these
technologies have not been widely adopted by poor
farmers. The reasons lie on the high costs of these
technologies. Moreover, inputs availability is low and
application rates of recommended fertilizers are not
affordable to small farmers (Poulton et al., 2006; Adesina,
Three critical issues have to be addressed for fertilizers
to successfully increase staple food crop productivity in
Africa: fertilizer accessibility must be improved,
affordability must be increased and the use of incentives
must be effective (Poulton et al., 2006; Adesina, 2009;
Sanginga and Woomer, 2009). In this perspective,
important studies have been carried out by international
research institutions and some NARS in West Africa to
develop an effective technique known as fertilizer
microdosing (ICRISAT, 2001; Aune et al., 2007; AGRA,
2014; INERA et al., 2014).
This technique not only makes inorganic fertilizers to be
more affordable to poor small scale farmers but also
increases the efficiency of their use (Buerkert et al., 2001;
Bagayogo et al., 2011). The microdosing technique
consists in applying small doses of fertilizers in the
sowing hills during planting or 10 to 15 days after
planting. Combined to rain water harvesting techniques, it
gives a quick start to young plants and can contribute to
increase crop yield by more than 150%, even in rain
deficit situations (Palé et al., 2009; INERA et al., 2014).
In spite of this significant technological advance,
resource-poor small scale farmers are often unable to
increase their production because of the lack of access to
appropriate credit facilities. In the case of high
production, there is a marketing problem of the extra
production (Poulton et al., 2006). At harvest or
immediately after post-harvest time, the market prices are
low and farmers could not increase their income by
selling their products to satisfy their needs and to
purchase appropriate farm inputs for the coming cropping
Many approaches were developed in African countries
to improve the access of farmers to agricultural credit
(Ouédraogo and Fournier, 1996; Zoundi and Hitimana,
2011; Anang et al., 2015). This was the case of Savings
and Agricultural Credit Unions that appeared before
independences era, first in English speaking African
countries (Ghana, Tanzania) and then in West African
French-speaking countries. The operator mode of these
community-based structures was broadly in line with
Western models (Ouédraogo and Fournier, 1996). They
were particularly characterized by their independence vis-
a-vis the National Administrations and, the access to
credit was reserved only to their members (Mondiale,
2007). Later, these structures were replaced by the
National Agricultural Credit Offices and/or National Banks
for Agricultural Development making more accessible
credit to farmers. However, since 1980, these credit
structures failed and the Popular Offices for agricultural
credit took place in various African countries (Zoundi and
Hitimana, 2011 Anang et al., 2015). These popular
structures offer great support to farmers and to the
informal sector activities (Buckley, 1997).
To address the complex issue of facilitating credit to
poor households, the international research institutions in
collaboration with some West Africa NARS and the Food
and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
developed a community-based micro credit approach
known as Warrantage or inventory credit system
(ICRISAT, 2001; Tabo et al., 2011; Adamu and Chianu,
2011; Sogodogo et al., 2014). The organizations of
farmer in partnership with a lending agency (micro
financial institution, NGO, etc.) store their products at
harvest in the appropriate warehouses and are issued
with cash loans based on the value of their deposit. The
loans enable them to address some urgent household
financial needs and participate in collective fertilizer
purchases. With this credit, farmers are able to carry out
some income-generating activities (fattening of small
ruminants, vegetable gardening and trading) during the
off-season. Then, in agreement with the lending
institution, farmers sell the stored grains at higher prices,
4-5 months after harvest, when the market supply begins
to decline. Through this arrangement, they are able to
earn substantial benefit that allow them to pay back their
loans with interest (Adamu and Chianu, 2011; Tabo et al.,
The warrantage system was implemented in some
West Africa countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger
about ten years ago. It has been recently introduced in
Benin (INERA et al., 2014). The accessibility to
agricultural inputs, and the adoption of technological
innovations could increase rain-fed crop production and
household livelihoods; this rain-fed crop production could
be also reinforced by the warrantage system (Adamu and
Chianu, 2011; Tabo et al., 2011).
This study aims to assess the implementation level of
the warrantage system in Burkina Faso and to identify
how this community-based micro credit system could
influence (i) the attendance of input shops and inorganic
fertilizer purchase, (ii) the adoption of fertilizer micro
dosing technique, (iii) the rain-fed crop production and
(iv) the household livelihood and food security.
Ouattara et al. 57
Figure 1. Location of the experimental sites.
The study was conducted in two sites (Provinces), respectively
located at the northern limits (Province of Zondoma) and Eastern
Central (Province of Kourittenga) in the North-Sudanian zone of
Burkina Faso (Figure 1). These areas are characterized by a clear
woody Savannah, plagued by a continual environmental
degradation caused by climate change and increasing land
pressures. Soils are mainly sandy, poor-structured and strongly
deficient in phosphorus and nitrogen, resulting in a low productive
Agricultural production is mainly rain-fed and dominated by small-
scale farmers in these sites. This production is subjected to the
perverse induced-effects of climate change and climate variability.
Then, this agricultural production is characterized by a lack of
government support in both input supplies and credit systems.
The study was particularly focused on data recorded from 58
warrantage infrastructures and 36 input shops which were
established six years ago to support the dissemination of inorganic
fertilizer microdosing technique. To assess the effects of the
inventory credit system on farmers’ production capacity and
livelihoods, two broad socioeconomic surveys were carried out 3
and 6 years after establishing the warrantage system. 1040 farmers
and 440 household heads were sampled and constituted in a
simple and randomized way in 12 villages in the study areas. An
individual questionnaire was used to collect information on the links
58 J. Dev. Agric. Econ.
Table 1. Sources of credit at farmer level, in Burkina Faso, in 2012.
Validated percentage of involved farmers (%)
Average amount of credit (FCFA)
Savings/ micro credit
Table 2. Beneficiaries of the warrantage credit according to
between this warrantage system and fertilizer purchase, micro-
dosing technique uptake, farmers’ income and livelihoods.
Method of analysis
Descriptive statistics were performed to calculate the mean values
and the frequencies of the various variables. Therefore, Chi-square
test was used to appreciate the relation between warrantage
system and some variables like input shops visitation and the
adoption of mineral fertilizer microdosing technique. Student's t test
was performed to evaluate the induced-effect of the inventory credit
system implementation on crop yield.
Descriptive statistics on the inventory credit system
In the northern and central eastern part of Burkina Faso,
the survey showed that even if the amount of warrantage
credit is not high, this micro-credit system provides 27%
of farmers with financial resources. The average amount
of inventory credit is 28,179 FCFA per producer and per
year (Table 1). Certainly, the national financial institutions
granted high total credit values, but the number of
beneficiaries was very limited.
A breakdown of the farmer’s population by gender
showed the highest participation of women in this
inventory credit system (57%) as compared to men
(Table 2). Table 3 shows that the speculations involved in
the inventory credit system were commonly rain-fed
crops. The stored quantities vary according to both region
and crop. Groundnuts, cowpea and rice were the most
stored crops. 60% of the stocks were cowpea and
groundnuts mainly from Zondoma.
Cost benefit analysis of the warrantage system
The economic analysis of adopting the warrantage
system in 2012 showed that this system was a very
profitable business. It allowed farmers to generate profits
ranging from 90 to 183% (Table 4). A comparative
analysis of the warrantage system on farmer’s income
revealed that the storage of sorghum and millet is more
profitable than other crops.
Effects of the warrantage system on rain-fed crop
production and community-based livelihood
Relationship between the warrantage system and
input shop attendance and/or input purchase
From the socio economic survey carried out on 1040
households, the results revealed that very few farmers
visited an input shop and/or purchased inorganic fertilizer
(Table 5); only 33% are aware of community based
infrastructure; then 49% are involved in the warrantage
system. The statistical analysis through the determination
of Chi-square showed a significant link between these
two variables. The adoption of the warrantage systems
therefore, positively influences the attendance to inputs
shops and the fertilizer purchase.
Relationship between the warrantage system and the
micro dosing adoption
During the socio economic survey carried out in the 12
villages, it was shown that 32.5% of the villages applied
the inorganic fertilizer microdosing technique. This
proportion of the microdose adoption was increased by
94% when the villages practiced the warrantage system
(Table 6). The Chi square calculation showed a strong
relation between these two variables, indicating that the
warrantage system is a determining factor in micro
Ouattara et al. 59
Table 3. Amount of crop (kg) stored in the warrantage warehouses in two provinces in Burkina Faso in 2012.
Total stocks (%)
Table 4. Case study of the benefit obtained from the Inventory Credit System in 2012.
8 715 000
6 972 000
16 268 000
8 459 360
5 486 000
4 388 800
12 238 000
7 322 544
1 881 000
1 165 992
3 334 100
2 667 280
5 334 560
2 400 552
2 096 220
1 676 976
4 101 300
2 256 627
Table 5. Relationship between the warrantage practice and the visitation of an input shop (number and percentage of
Visit to an input shop
Practice of the
Table 6. Relationship between micro dosing and the warrantage practices at the village level (number and percentage of
Practice of Micro dosing technique
Practice of the
dosing technique adoption.
Effects of the warrantage system and the microdosing
adoption by households
The socio economic survey showed that 55% of the
households in the Eastern Central part (Kourittenga) did
not practice the inorganic fertilizer microdosing technique.
Table 7 indicated that only 36% of those who were not
granted with the warrantage credit practiced the micro-
dosing technique. When they were granted credit via the
warrantage system, the proportion of households adopting
this practice significantly increased by about 80%. This
demonstrated the strong contribution of the inventory
credit system to the microdosing technology adoption.
In the same area, the inventory credit system was
practiced by 33% of women cowpea producers. These
women were more likely to adopt the microdose
technology (36.7%) as compared to those who were not
granted with warrantage credit (10%). The influence of
the warrantage system on the decision to adopt
microdose technique is highly significant and positive
60 J. Dev. Agric. Econ.
Table 7. Influence of the warrantage practice on microdosing technique adoption by households (number and
percentage of adopters).
Table 8. Influence of the warrantage practice on microdosing technique adoption among female farmers (number
and percentage of adopters).
Table 9. Relationship between the warrantage and cowpea yields (kg ha-1) among women farmers.
Average crop yield
Relation between the warrantage system and rain fed
The comparison of crop yield averages indicates that
women cowpea producers who were practicing the
warrantage system obtained significantly higher yields as
compared to those who were not granted credit. Table 9
indicates that this system increased cowpea yields by
Relationship between the warrantage practice and
farmer perception of livelihood
With the interview, summarized in Table 10, 43% of
households noted some progress in their livelihood. It is
the same for 49% of farmers who were granted credit by
the warrantage system. But this increase is not significant
because 41% of those who did not practice any
warrantage system also noted an increase in their
livelihood. Only 10% found their livelihood status is
deteriorating whether or not they practice the warrantage
In the study sites, six years data analysis from 2009 show
that the inventory credit system remains the main source
of funds for the agricultural activities. The warrantage
system appears therefore as a community-based micro
credit scheme which is affordable to poor small scale
households (Adamu and Chianu, 2011; Tabo et al., 2011,
Sogodogo et al., 2014). Among other sources of funds, it
is the most considered by famers (Poulton et al., 2006;
Adesina, 2009; Zoundi and Hitimana, 2011), and more
suited to the socio-economic conditions of poor farmers.
Moreover, it is realized that at all level, (adoption and
stored products) women are the ones practicing this
activity most. Commonly, the stored products are
represented by annual rain-fed crops (cereals, cowpea,
sesame and groundnut). Cowpea and peanut mainly
produced by women represent over 60% of the stocks.
However, the market value of a given product lies on its
social and economic importance at the selling period.
Therefore, sorghum and millet, the main staple foods of
the region, provide higher benefits and ensure food
security at food shortage period (beginning of the wet
season). On average, the benefits due to the crops
storage are close to 140% of the granted credit. These
results express the determining role of this inventory
credit system in the improvement of the socio-economic
conditions of farmers as confirmed by a study of FAO
(2012) in the southwestern part of Burkina Faso and in
Mali (Sogodogo et al., 2014).
Ouattara et al. 61
Table 10. Relationship between the warrantage system and farmers’ perception of livelihood (number and percentage
of farmers involved).
Evolution of livelihood status
The study also show that 57% of women actively
participated to this warrantage system. This situation
could be explained by the fact that rural women are
commonly in charge of the household’s management. An
inventory credit system that allows them to support
income-generating activities (fattening of small ruminants,
small trading and vegetable production) is welcomed and
easily accepted. Furthermore, the high participation of
women in that microcredit could be explained by the
value of the deposit (cereal) as a guarantee, which is
more affordable to poor small scale farmers. The
conventional credit systems require more guarantees
(Roesch, 2004; Poulton et al., 2006; Adesina, 2009) that
women are not able to provide due to their precarious
Generally, the warrantage system allows farmers to get
considerable benefits through the increase of the price of
stored products when the market supply begins to
decline. Once the credit is repaid, the producer becomes
owner of the products that he can sell at a better price
according to the market demands. Another source of
benefits got by farmers is the realization of income-
generating activities that are not documented in this
With the goal to support small poor farmers, mainly in
facilitating the access to production inputs, the
warrantage credit system is successful in empowering
farmers to purchase inorganic fertilizer for microdosing
technique. This result is consistent with the theory of
agricultural credit. Daoudi and Wampfler (2010), Beaman
et al. (2014), Banerjee et al. (2015) and Crépon et al.
(2015) showed that the agricultural credit promoted the
adoption of innovations. This micro-credit strongly
influences the attendance to inputs shops and therefore
enables farmers to acquire fertilizer and other agricultural
inputs (Buerkert et al., 2001; Tabo et al., 2011, Sogodogo
et al., 2014).
The study clearly showed that most of the farmers who
carried out the warrantage system also adopted the
inorganic fertilizer microdosing technique. With the
objective to support poor small farmers, the warrantage
system is a potential framework to inform and train cost-
effective agricultural innovations. This positive effect of
the warrantage system on the accessibility to fertilizers
and to efficient fertilizer management technologies,
consequently improves crop yields (Buerkert et al., 2001;
Bagayogo et al., 2011; Tabo et al., 2011). In fact, farmers
involvement in the warrantage system increased
significantly, their income because of the benefits linked
to crop storage and the income-generating activities
(FAO, 2012; Sogodogo et al., 2014). In addition, food
availability at the beginning of wet season (weeding
period) contributes to improve manpower productivity,
and consequently increase future rain-fed crop yields.
The problem of access of small poor farmers to
agricultural credit resulted in a urgent need to find
appropriate solutions to support agricultural production.
From this perspective, this study clearly shows that the
inventory credit system is an appropriate approach to
address farmers’ poverty and food security. It is a
community-based and annual-running tool that is simple
to operate and only requires suitable partnership with
micro financial institutions. Accordingly, it appeared as
the main source of credit in the study area. In addition,
the warrantage system is affordable to poor farmers,
even to disadvantaged groups such as women. Thus this
study showed that inventory credit system is more for
female in Burkina Faso, because of their adhesion to the
warrantage system. This activity enables them to earn
money to conduct income-generating activities and
address their household needs.
The profit obtained from the warrantage system allows
farmers to purchase external inputs such as inorganic
fertilizers. This assertion was confirmed by the strong
relation between this practice and the adoption of
microdosing technique, resulting in higher yields and
substantial increases in farmer income. Most of the
households interviewed realized that their livelihood
increased over a six-year period.
In spite of these advantages, the dissemination of the
inventory credit system also has constraints which need
to be addressed thus: (i) the real problems associated
with access of farmers to agricultural credit cannot be
tackled solely by capital injections but require fundamental
structural changes of socioeconomic conditions that
characterize this activity sector. Specifically, farmers
need to be empowered so that they can establish
themselves in win-win partnerships such as the warrantage
62 J. Dev. Agric. Econ.
system with larger financial institutions; (ii) existence of
adequate warehouses at farmers’ organization level is a
prerequisite to practice the warrantage system. The
quality of products at selling times (and thus profitability)
is strongly correlated with storage conditions; (iii) farmers’
organizations need real assistance from policy makers
who must facilitate warehouse implementation and
encourage win-win partnerships between farmers’
organizations and financial institutions; (iv) future
research activities focused on the monitoring and
evaluation of an inventory credit system must be
intensified to seek more profitable and sustainable
scenarios. After tackling these constraints, the
warrantage system will appear to be a good pathway to
combat both rural poverty and low agricultural
CONFLICT OF INTERESTS
The authors have not declared any conflict of interests.
The authors acknowledge the financial support of the
Canadian International Development
Agency/International Development Research Centre
(CIDA/IDRC) and the Alliance Green Revolution in Africa
foundation (AGRA), through the collaboration of
researchers from the University of Parakou (Benin);
Institut de l’Economie Rurale (Mali); Institut National de
Recherche Agronomique (Niger); the University of
Saskatchewan (Canada) and the International Center for
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