Board Chair Elin Miller, CNFA logo of a green plant and its roots and CNFA CEO & President Sylvain Roy

CNFA entered 2020 just as it had in many years past. We had laid out a strategy, set goals and prepared once again to take to the field to pursue our mission in countries around the world.

And then things changed. A virus that once seemed confined to a single region proliferated and quickly became a global threat. The world was suddenly a different place.

But it was in this new environment—one which tested our organization in every possible way—that CNFA proved its resilience, agility and resolve. Our teams persevered, overcame obstacles and created new ways to achieve our objectives. Early in the crisis, CNFA also made the firm decision to keep our teams intact and avoid furloughs. We succeeded in this goal, aided in part by support from the U.S. Government.

As a result of these efforts by CNFA and its partners, we are proud to say that we were able to continue the implementation of each of our projects and programs.

Our efforts to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 began in earnest in March 2020, when we moved to a full-time teleworking schedule in our Washington, D.C. headquarters. We also instituted mitigation protocols in our work locations worldwide—including safe methods of project implementation.

In Pakistan, for instance, the USAID-funded Pakistan Agricultural Technology Transfer Activity (PATTA), implemented by CNFA, replaced in-person technology promotion with digital alternatives like radio programming and virtual roundtable discussions, and provided technical support to farmers through methods such as SMS/robocall outreach and online campaigns.

In Georgia, the CNFA-implemented USAID Agriculture Program continued to forge partnerships and establish new market opportunities with the private and public sectors, but shifted its focus to promote digital solutions facilitating virtual market engagement.

In Zimbabwe, CNFA’s USAID-funded Amalima program quickly set in motion COVID-19 mitigation procedures, including designing and distributing COVID-19 prevention materials across Bulilima, Mangwe, Gwanda, Tsholotsho and Bulawayo, and promoting an audio drama via WhatsApp on hand washing and safe distancing practices.

In Southern Africa and the Eastern European country of Moldova, our Farmer-to-Farmer Program transformed physical volunteer assignments into virtual ones, allowing our U.S. volunteers to continue delivering high-level technical assistance and support.

And the list goes on.

Over the past year, communication undeniably became the heartbeat of our organization. General staff, departmental and board meetings increasingly relied on the use of teleconferencing technologies. Calls between the D.C. headquarters and field offices increased in volume, as we worked to discuss the evolving pandemic situation, provide fair and transparent updates to our employees and keep our teams motivated.

All in all, CNFA can look back with pride at its accomplishments during a year of unprecedented challenges.

In Zimbabwe, for example, our hard work over the last seven years through the USAID Development Food Aid Program-funded Amalima project improved the living conditions of 118,334 vulnerable households. We are now scaling up to reach even more people through our follow-on project, Amalima Loko.

And in Niger and Burkina Faso, CNFA’s successes over last past five years with the USAID Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel (REGIS-AG) program has earned our organization two follow-on projects: USAID Yidgiri and USAID Yalwa.

In 2020, we also designed our new five-year Strategic Plan to guide the development of our organization through 2025. We now look forward to an ambitious effort to build expertise, innovation, program reach and impact in four target areas—access to finance, carbon reduction, digital solutions and nutrition. And in response to the tragic events that unfolded in the United States over the summer of 2020, CNFA’s Strategic Plan also includes investments aimed at expanding diversity, equity and inclusion within our organization.

As in previous strategic plans, CNFA will continue to commit considerable resources to its first asset—our employees—through the development of staff capacity, prioritization of first-time field assignments and clear professional growth opportunities. And we will continue to do everything we can to create and maintain an inclusive work environment that motivates and engages our team members and enables them to function at their highest level.

Our exceptional staff, as well as our partners around the world, have much work to do in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a massive distortion of the entire global food system. In the countries we serve, women and youth are among the most affected. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, millions of people have lost economic gains from recent years and returned to extreme poverty.

CNFA remains more committed than ever to supporting populations around the world as they work to regain economic stability and food security. We will accomplish this thanks to the support of our traditional donors — USAID and USDA — and by continuing to implement the private-sector-driven initiatives that serve as powerful tools for sustainable wealth creation.

Best regards,

Elin D. Miller and Sylvain Roy