Amalima Loko

Amalima Loko

Posted On: Filed Under:

Overview:

Amalima, the Ndebele word for a group of people coming together to achieve a common goal, and Loko meaning “genuine” or “authentic” in Tonga join to form Amalima Loko – a five-year (2020-2025) USAID-funded Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance program designed to improve food security in Zimbabwe through increased food access and sustainable watershed management.

Implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), Amalima Loko builds on the legacy of its predecessor Amalima, a seven-year Resilience Food Security Activity also implemented by CNFA that worked to sustainably improve food security and nutrition for vulnerable Zimbabwean households.

The $75 million Amalima Loko program seeks to elevate the livelihoods of more than 67,000 vulnerable households across five districts of Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland North: Binga, Hwagne, Lupane, Nkayi, and Tsholotsho. To accomplish this, the program utilizes a unique Community Visioning approach designed to strengthen community and household-level resilience, promotes nutrition-sensitive initiatives including a blanket food distribution program, and improves watershed infrastructure and practices that provide long-term foundations for improved resilience and agriculture-based livelihoods.

Program Approach:

  1. Enhance inclusive local ownership over food security and resilience planning and development through Community Visioning which strengthens the ability of communities to identify their own priorities and define solutions to support social cohesion and resilience. As the foundation of the Amalima Loko approach, Community Visioning engages stakeholders in an inclusive planning process and mobilizes community action groups around development priorities, including gender and youth dynamics, social safety nets and disaster risk reduction.
  2. Advance health and availability of soil, water and plant resources within the watershed by working at the micro-catchment level and using an integrated water resource management (IWRM) approach to improve community ownership, use and governance of watershed resources. This IWRM approach supports the restoration and protection of natural resources while improving access to water infrastructure for household and productive use. Amalima Loko also utilizes “cash for assets” programming to provide a cash infusion to vulnerable households, while building the community asset base through watershed infrastructure and conservation works such as dams, soil conservation and erosion control measures, and rehabilitation of degraded areas.
  3. Improve human health and livelihoods by strengthening individual and household capacities to weather shocks and stresses, and thrive with good health, a sufficient and stable asset base, and adequate and reliable income. The program also enhances nutrition and health for women of reproductive age and children under five by enhancing nutritional adequacy and healthy behaviors, implementing a blanket food distribution program using the “first 1,000 days” approach, and promoting diverse livelihood strategies based on village savings and lending group participation, business skill building, and asset accumulation to help households manage the risk and impact of shocks and stresses.

Partners: 

Post-Harvest Handling Practices Change Fortunes for Carrot Farmers

Posted On: Filed Under:

Situated in the Western Province of Rwanda, Nyabihu district has a very conducive climate for vegetable growing. One of the key vegetable crops grown in Nyabihu is carrots for sale to urban areas across Rwanda. However, farmers continually incur losses due to the perishable nature of carrots –  most of the carrots rot before reaching the market, becoming inedible and leading to significant losses for farmers.

Nyabihu farmer Mukasine Mariza (46) faced this challenge many times. In previous seasons, she would harvest an average crop but then lose a large proportion to spoilage due to poor post-harvest handling practices. Adding to her woes, Mukasine would be forced to sell off her produce at a “give-away-price”, fearing additional losses since carrots are very perishable. Like most farmers, she would be at the mercy of aggregators who would take advantage of the perishability of carrots to pay less, forcing the farmers to accept poor returns on their labor and investment. The lack of proper post-harvest handling skills and equipment made vegetable farming an unprofitable venture for many farmers in Nyabihu district.

Mukasine’s fortunes changed when USAID, through Hinga Weze, offered a 6,243,597 RWF ($6,456) investment to set up a cold room with a cool bot and to construct a Zero Energy Cooling Chamber (ZECC) for her cooperative, KOGIMUIN. The cold room stores up to 300 crates, each carrying 15 kg of carrots, and, to-date, 3,600 MT of carrots have been handled by the facility. The cooperative of 55 members also received 150 crates and one weight scale.

Using the facilities provided, Mukasine and others can weigh their produce, ensuring that it is stored upon harvest to keep fresh, and it is safely transported to the market without overexposure to heat. This support is in line with Hinga Weze’s goals as a USAID-funded Feed the Future program to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of women and children, and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate.

From Hinga Weze’s training on good agricultural practices and post-harvest handling, Mukasine increased her yield from 3 tons per hectare to over 4.5 tons per hectare. Most remarkably, she also managed to increase earnings per yield from 375,000 RWF (about $398) to 562,500 RWF (about $597). Her earnings also improved after Hinga Weze linked the farmers to a cooperative of aggregators where their selling power is stronger, and they can negotiate better prices.

“I almost gave up farming, but now I no longer make losses. I save enough money for my children,” she happily observed. To Mukasine and her cooperative members, carrot farming is no longer a burden as they continue to utilize the skills and facilities to reduce losses and earn more from farming.

Participatory Cooking Demonstrations and Nutrition Education Empower and Improve Farmer Communities and their Knowledge

Posted On: Filed Under:

The Hinga Weze Care Group (CG) model is a conduit for improved nutrition for farmer communities. Comprised of household members, the CG brings together community members for the purpose of nutrition education and cooking demonstrations so participants can learn how to prepare nutritious foods for themselves and their families. CGs are typically comprised of 50-75 households or approximately 100-150 people. CGs are facilitated by trained community-based volunteers (CBVs) to disseminate basic nutrition concepts, good nutrition practices, and food safety best practices to fight against all forms of malnutrition for women of reproductive age and children under 2. Additionally, the CBVs promote other healthy and essential practices such as water, sanitation, and hygiene best practices, gender education and empowerment, methods for improving savings culture, promotion of family-centered conflict resolution, and enhancement of community-centered development.

Feed the Future Hinga Weze Activity (Hinga Weze) introduced this model in the Gatsibo District, one of its 10 target districts in Rwanda. The Tuzamurane Twita ku Mirire Myiza (“Develop ourselves with a focus on better nutrition”) CG was one of the first beneficiaries of Hinga Weze, comprised of 73 households. This CG had difficulties raising money to purchase nutritious foods for its members, coupled with a general lack of knowledge on hygiene and food safety practices.

The leader of the CG, Mukazuza, noted that through support from Hinga Weze, the CG members, both men, and women, successfully acquired and applied knowledge on the components of a well-balanced diet and how to prepare nutritious meals from locally available foods or items grown in home gardens. CG members also received training on how to establish and maintain home gardens, which serve as a source of additional fruits and vegetables. Demonstrations on home gardening and nutritious cooking were held for the CG to participate in. Mukazuza credits the community nutrition transformation and improved gender equity to Hinga Weze’s presence in the district. She noted that, on a personal level, her own health and that of her grandchild has improved considerably due to improved knowledge acquired through her CG.

Since its inception in mid-2017, Hinga Weze aims to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ incomes through increased productivity, improved nutritional status of Rwandan women and children, and increased resilience toward the changing climate. Hinga Weze has supported 66,562 households with 14,009 cooking demonstrations taking place in communities across its 10 target districts in Rwanda, transforming nutritional practices, stabilizing gender norms, and empowering farmer communities.

Supporting Women-Led Agribusiness Development in Gilgit-Baltistan

Posted On: Filed Under:

Immense potential for agricultural productivity lies in mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), where 90 percent of households are agricultural landowners. However, horticulture and livestock-based smallholders experience post-harvest losses because of limited access to agricultural technologies and quality inputs. In addition, innovative agribusinesses that manufacture new tools and products in other provinces lack the ability to make new technologies available to farmers and dealers in GB due to constraints such as logistics, limited knowledge of business expansion, and the lack of marketing and sales skills.

In partnership with key agribusinesses, PATTA is addressing these constraints by providing business opportunities to women and extending support for their use of agricultural technologies. Fareeda Begum, a 47 years-old woman farmer from the village of Oshikhandass, was able to sell 70 bags of cattle feed and promote the products to other women farmers through PATTA-supported awareness-raising sessions. “PATTA is developing our linkages with different agricultural technology companies which is not only benefiting me as an entrepreneur but [is] also advantageous for other women farmers of my village,” explained Fareeda Begum.

Solve Agri Pak limited, a Punjab-based agribusiness company offering products and services in the dairy and livestock sector was unable to enter new geographical territories due to lack of access to local dealers and limited business expansion opportunities. Seeing the investment potential for agricultural technologies in GB, Solve Agri Pak realized the importance of finding a gateway to launch special products and commercialize best agricultural management practices in the GB region. In 2018, Solve Agri Pak partnered with the four-year USAID-funded Pakistan Agricultural Technology Transfer Activity (PATTA) to increase Solve Agri Pak’s capacity to expand, leverage new investments, and match farmers’ needs in GB. Since then, PATTA has provided several investment opportunities to 37 agribusinesses including Solve Agri Pak, and helped them promote their products in demonstrations, field days, expos, and linkage building initiatives with local dealers and other key actors across Pakistan.

In June 2019, PATTA’s support helped Solve Agri Pak establish a new business in GB, opening its very first franchise called ‘Darwaish and Sons’, and achieve agricultural technologies sales of $9,803. Between June and September 2019, Solve Agri Pak introduced livestock products such as semen, feed and minerals, and invested approximately $3,070.

Ghulam Raza, the franchise owner of ‘Darwaish and Sons’, earned a profit of $515 within three months of opening the business franchise, buying cattle feed from Solve Agri Pak, and selling it in local markets. “We are new in the agriculture technology business. PATTA has not only helped us to develop our linkages with Solve Agri Pak but also assisted us in reaching local farmers in GB. We have also collaborated with women farmers and entrepreneurs,” said Ghulam Raza. Fareeda Begum is one of the farmers who established a sub-dealership with Darwaish and Sons through PATTA and Solve Agri Pak, benefitting and empowering her and other women farmers.

USAID PATTA will continue to create lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities for women through the development of linkages with agricultural technology businesses so that agriculture is more vibrant and inclusive in GB. The project centers women as change agents and is creating opportunities for their equal access to resources and facilitating business development linkages, so they are not left behind by the benefits of agricultural business expansion. PATTA’s targeted assistance and customized technical support to agricultural technologies enterprises and women-led businesses, will not only improve their competitiveness but also support technology promotion and farmers’ adoption of innovative management practices.

Global Agro Inc’s machine rental brings relief to Liberian smallholder farmers

Posted On: Filed Under:

In Liberia, over 90% of smallholder farmers experienced low productivity because of reliance on human labor to practice traditional ‘slash and burn’ farming. To these farmers, the use of farm machinery in their fields seems a distant dream due to the unavailability and high cost of equipment. Farm mechanization enhances the timeliness of agricultural operations; and reduces manual labor, particularly for women, children, and the elderly.

To ensure smallholders’ access to affordable farm machinery services, USAID Feed the Future Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) awarded Global Agro Inc., an agro-mechanization equipment rental company, an in-kind grant of $144,135 USD to expand the provision of farm mechanization services to smallholder farmers across LADA’s program locations in Montserrado, Bong, Nimba, and Lofa counties. The grant amount was used to procure farm mechanization equipment such as power tillers, trans-planters, mini farm tractors, combine harvesters, thrashers, and winnowers for the provision of farm mechanization services to smallholder farmers at affordable rental fees. Additionally, LADA linked Global Agro Inc. to smallholder farmer groups in major rice and cassava production, supporting the development of the country’s two main staple crops.

Global Agro Inc. uses a fee-for-service model in providing mechanization services to smallholder farmers. Fees for services rendered are settled in kind or cash based on the convenience of the participating parties. Farmers benefit from land clearing, field preparation, harvesting, threshing, and winnowing services and pay at harvest with the flexibility of the fee-for-service model.

Ma-Yanma

 

Ma-Yanma, a farmer benefiting from the service, expressed delight for the agro-machine rental services. “I was going to take over a month and spend more than $300 if I were to use human labor. Now, the machine was able to plow my field in just two days and I spent $155. I am also healthy.”.

In February 2020, Global Agro Inc. deployed 10 power tillers (5 in Lofa and 5 in Nimba County). With LADA’s support, the enterprise conducted trial farm mechanization demonstrations to approximately 75 smallholders plowing about 60 hectares of farmlands in Foya and Voinjama Districts. The farmers have shown interest to use the equipment rental services during the planting season (April – July 2020).

Over the next few months, Global Agro Inc. plans to engage more than 5,000 smallholder farmers in Lofa, Nimba, and Bong counties to benefit from mechanization services. The enterprise also plans to increase its pool of machinery to effectively render services to farmers in real-time.

The Liberia Agricultural Development Activity (LADA) is a USAID/Feed the Future activity with the overarching goal to increase incomes of 23,500 smallholder farmers in the targeted value chains of rice, cassava, vegetable, aquaculture, and cocoa through private sector investment in the agricultural sector. LADA is in its fifth year of implementation in Montserrado, Bong, Lofa, and Nimba counties.

USAID Yalwa

Posted On: Filed Under:

Enhancing Markets and Nutrition in Niger

Overview:

The five-year USAID Yalwa activity strengthens the capacities of farmers, producer organizations, agribusinesses and rural households in the Maradi, Tillabéri and Zinder regions of Niger to meet the growing demand for affordable, safe and nutritious food.

Yalwa, means “fulfillment” or “blossoming” in the Hausa language. USAID Yalwa supports USAID’s regional Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) program, which works with the Government of Niger to help citizens escape poverty and build resilience to natural, economic, and other shocks. USAID Yalwa includes a ground-breaking component on food market systems and follows five years of progress generated by the USAID-funded Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth (REGIS-AG) program, also implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA).

Program Approach:

USAID Yalwa’s market systems facilitation approach is based on collaboration with catalytic local actors and networks. Yalwa will work primarily through unions to provide services to producer groups (access to agro-inputs, fnance, skills development, etc.), while building their capacity to provide services without project  support. The approach leverages commercial investments to build long-term linkages between buyers and sellers, ensure delivery of inputs and services, and supply nutritious food. It also builds the skills of farmers, traders, and processors so they can earn a profit from their businesses, seek out nutritious foods, and become self-reliant.

Yalwa targets 105,000 farmers in over 195 villages, and 160 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by fulfilling the following purposes:

  1. Enhance performance of market systems in the cowpea, small ruminant and poultry value chains.
  2. Increase the use of high-quality inputs and services such as seeds, fertilizers, and livestock and poultry feed, improving food production and storage, and supporting improved marketing, production, and access to finance and climate information.
  3. Increase local consumption of nutritious, safe and affordable foods by promoting demand and helping market actors to supply the food to targeted populations.
  4. Promote inclusive markets for women and youth by identifying barriers to market participation, and working with communities to encourage youth and women’s entrepreneurship and leadership.

Partners: 

USAID Yidgiri

Posted On: Filed Under:

Enhancing Markets and Nutrition in Burkina Faso

Overview:

The five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Yidgiri activity is designed to strengthen market systems, sustainably increase household incomes, and improve the nutritional status of women and children in Burkina Faso.

Aptly named Yidgiri, or “grow” in the Mòoré language, USAID Yidgiri is part of the second phase of the USAID Regional Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) project, which supports vulnerable communities in Burkina Faso to prepare for and effectively manage recurrent crises, and to pursue sustainable pathways out of poverty. By 2025, USAID Yidgiri aims to improve the resilience of market systems by establishing profitable linkages between producers and buyers in the Centre Nord, Sahel, and Est regions of Burkina Faso, and facilitate access to local and regional markets.

Program Approach:

USAID Yidgiri is strengthening the resilience of market systems by building individual and institutional capacities among agricultural market actors in Burkina Faso. USAID Yidgiri has three focus areas:

  1. Enhance performance of commodity market systems by establishing profitable market linkages between producers and buyers, improving livestock market system structure and governance, and improving the capacity of market system actors, including farmers, producer organizations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to access financial services and products.
  2. Increase use of quality inputs and services by developing business clusters, organizing seasonal commodity fairs, facilitating partnerships between producer organizations and industrial and institutional buyers, and leveraging financial services. USAID Yidgiri works at the systems level to decrease costs, improve quality, and educate farmers on the most efficient and effective use of available inputs and services.
  3. Increase consumption of nutritious, safe and affordable foods by increasing demand for and facilitating the market-driven development of diverse sources of such food, and employing social behavior change (SBC) interventions to ensure that all activities resonate with targeted rural markets, especially women and youth.

Partners: 

Private Sector Activity (PSA)

Posted On: Filed Under:

In 2015, the Government of Azerbaijan (GOAJ) developed strategic sector roadmaps for developing the economy, with a special focus on nonoil sectors such as agriculture. The need for developing non-oil sectors, especially agriculture – which officially employs half the Azerbaijani workforce – became obvious as the world price for oil began declining in 2014. Since then, the GOAJ implemented a reform agenda supporting incentives for non-oil exports by facilitating greater exposure to regional markets, implementing administrative reforms to remove barriers for trade, registering agricultural associations, and establishing new government agencies to support small and medium sized business.

The USAID Private Sector Activity (PSA) is a five-year, $15 million initiative that utilizes a partnership and co-investment approach to support a more resilient Azerbaijan economy and improve the business enabling environment. To accomplish this, the Activity supports the non-oil sector by improving the competitiveness of the private sector (with a special emphasis on agriculture and other rural economic activities), building the capacity of business support services, and reducing the barriers that hinder the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The Private Sector Activity is building on the successes of USAID’s support to agricultural producers and processors in Azerbaijan achieved over the last 20 years. In partnership with the Azerbaijani government and the private sector, the Activity helps address their priorities for modernization and improvement of public and private sector support and service delivery. This supports the diversification of Azerbaijan’s economy by strengthening the capacity of public institutions to carry out new responsibilities and adjust to institutional change to implement the reforms outlined in the strategic roadmap. The Activity achieves this through activities designed to:

  1. Develop a more diversified economy: USAID provides assistance that supports the increased diversification of the non-oil economy in Azerbaijan, specifically but not limited to the agricultural sector. As such, the Activity assists small and medium-sized farmers to become commercially viable, competing in local or export markets. The project also works with processors, traders, and cold storage operators to improve their adherence to international standards. The activity builds capacity in support of developing the agricultural sector and value chains in which the activity works, as well as in support of USAID’s Global Development Alliance (GDA) initiatives.
  2. Improve the business environment for micro, small and medium-sized businesses: Because businesses face administrative barriers that stifle competition, dissuade investment, and constrain trade, the Activity works with associations and MSMEs to identify these barriers, communicate them to the relevant government agencies, and target their elimination. These efforts help to increase the benefits of economic growth and remove obstacles to competition, investment, trade and integration into the global economy. The Activity also contributes to the harmonization of Azerbaijan’s legislation and institutions with  international standards and recognized best practices. As a result, businesses have increased opportunities to produce, trade, export and earn income.
  3. Support Azerbaijan’s economic reforms: The Activity increases Azerbaijan’s economic stability by supporting economic reform initiatives to help boost the non-oil sector. To accomplish this, the project has developed a rapid, flexible response mechanism to provide technical specialists and material support to Azerbaijani officials who require assistance to identify public sector reforms. It will then recommend reform implementation options and monitor the progress of reforms offering assistance as needed. Support will include both short-term and long-term technical assistance to Azerbaijani counterparts, potentially including specialists in: Monetary Policy; Banking Supervision; Financial Intelligence; Public Financial Management; and others as identified by Azerbaijan’s government and private sector, as well as USAID.

Cross-cutting themes:

  1. GOAJ collaboration
  2. Private sector engagement
  3. Women’s economic participation

Partners:

  1. Nathan Associates Inc. (USA)
  2. WCC International (USA)

Training Women in the Agro-Processing Workforce on Nutrition

Posted On: Filed Under:

Despite their matching green uniforms, Alaa, Hajar and Mariam each have their own specific role at El Baiaho Agricultural Community Development Association pack house, located in the outskirts of Minya, Egypt. Alaa labels the dewy green grapes with a branded sticker. Hajar takes the grapes from the packaging line and makes sure they are ready for sale. And Mariam weighs the grapes before packaging.
“We wish to work. This job allows us to get our own money for private [education] lessons and we are also able to help our families,” said Hajar.

Alaa, Hajar, and Mariam are just three of the young women hired by El Baiaho to support their post-harvest operations which involves sorting, packaging and storing a variety of crops, including grapes, pomegranate, tomato, and garlic for export. All three women are still attending school during the day, after which they make the journey to work. During their holiday breaks, these women spend even longer hours to increase their income.

In early June, Alaa, Hajar, and Mariam temporarily hung up their green jackets along with their fellow female employees at El Baiaho to participate in a training focused on nutrition for women in the agro-processing workforce. Across Egypt, undernutrition and stunting rates for children remain high, which results in economic costs that hinder the development of the nation.

To address this issue, USAID’s Feed the Future Egypt, Food Security and Agribusiness Support (FAS) project organized a three-day training aimed at building awareness on nutritional requirements for teenage girls and to promote the importance of investing their income in their own and their future children’s health and nutrition. The training was led by Dr. Amal Hassanein Abouelmajed, Agri-Nutrition team leader on the FAS project who has a postgraduate diploma in hospital dietetics and has extensive experience working in food and nutrition on projects across Egypt and has attended trainings internationally.

The hands-on training instilled participants with knowledge on the types of food that are critical for improving health and child development, such as identifying foods rich in iron, vitamins and proteins. The young women also received training in good hygienic practices, such as the importance of hand washing as well as practical methods to prevent food poisoning. “I learned a lot that I did not know before. I learned about how to organize food in the fridge to keep it fresh,” said Hajar.

“I learned about the food pyramid which helped me to know what types of food and how much to eat to stay healthy,” said Alaa.

The training did not stop at the doors of El Baiaho. All three young women spoke of sharing the knowledge and tools they had acquired through the training with their families back home. “The day I got the training, I went home and practiced what I learned with my family. I opened up the fridge and showed them what we should now do,” said Mariam.

This training was just one piece of what the FAS project aims to achieve to improve the nutritional status particularly of women and children. Over the coming two years, the FAS project plans to provide training to 300 community nutrition mobilizers, who in turn will conduct outreach on nutrition to 3,000 households. In addition to expanding nutrition trainings to women in the agro-processing workforce to additional companies, the FAS team is also in the early stages of sending out SMS text messages that focus on key nutrition topics through the digital extension service platform (DESP). Using this method, more women will be exposed to the essential knowledge on the link between nutrition and leading healthy, productive lives.

“This type of training is so good for us because when we grow up and have our own children, we will know better how to keep our family healthy,” said Hajar.