Over 50,000 Rice and Maize Farmers to Benefit from Thrive Agric’s Enhanced Access to Finance

Over 50,000 Rice and Maize Farmers to Benefit from Thrive Agric’s Enhanced Access to Finance

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Sustainable growth of the agriculture sector in Nigeria has been identified as a key element of the Government of Nigeria’s plans for eradicating poverty and hunger, while developing a more diverse economy. To achieve this, smallholder farmers in the country require steady and reliable access to affordable finance, among other things, so that they can expand their operations and produce food for communities at home and abroad.

Anchor companies such as Thrive Agric, a youth-led agricultural technology startup, are working to bridge this financing gap by providing farmers with data-driven advice and access to finance and premium markets. However, Thrive Agric themselves face challenges accessing the funding they need to grow, such as struggling to meet restrictive bank requirements.

To help Thrive Agric achieve their financing goals, the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), assisted the company to upgrade their digital agricultural operating system software. The upgraded platform allowed them to integrate with banks, seamlessly disburse cash and inputs, and monitor investments and farm activities through to loan repayment. It also allowed Thrive Agric’s over 2,000 field agents to capture critical farm data and provide farmers with technology-enabled extension and advisory services.

This software opened access to their financiers, strengthening their loan monitoring capability, and helped meet a critical requirement for Thrive Agric to apply for and receive funds from different financiers and secure multiple partnerships with bodies and organizations with aligned goals of supporting farmers and boosting food production in Nigeria and across Africa.

Following this successful collaboration, in March 2021, the Activity’s support enabled Thrive Agric to unlock additional loan financing from its bank partners from the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Program Prime Intervention Fund. The Anchor Borrower Fund supports anchor companies linking with smallholder farmers in key value chains, such as rice or maize, by providing funds that can be distributed as in-kind or in-cash loans to smallholders to boost production and stabilize their supply of inputs. Securing this loan enabled Thrive Agric to fund inputs to over 50,000 registered maize and rice farmers across Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger states.

Moving forward, the Activity will continue its efforts to support Thrive Agric as a prime anchor company to meet lender criteria by strengthening their ability to access funding, improving their creditworthiness and financial reporting, and support farmers working to improve maize and rice production across the country. With increased access to finance, anchor companies like Thrive Agric will strengthen and grow their business, improving and expanding smallholder farmers’ access to credit, inputs, expertise, and markets for increased food security, employment, and income generation.

Sugu Yiriwa

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Overview

The five-year Feed the Future Mali Sugu Yiriwa activity (2021-2026) aims to strengthen market systems, sustainably improve household incomes and improve the nutritional status of women and children in Mali. Sugu Yiriwa, prosperous markets in Bambara, will empower actors across the market system to affect sustainable, systemic change, with a strategic focus on vulnerable and gender- and nutrition-sensitive value chains in 46 communes in the Sikasso sub-zone.

Program Approach

Sugu Yiriwa will engage and strengthen market actors to achieve results across three mutually reinforcing objectives:

  1. Enhanced Market Access and Business Linkages: Sugu Yiriwa will multiply business linkages to facilitate development of markets that are more inclusive, dynamic and functional. Building the capacity of market actors will increase market preparedness and ensure producer organizations can meet quality and quantity buyer requirements.
  2. Improved Access to and Use of Quality and Affordable Inputs and Services: Sugu Yiriwa will work at the input supply system-level to reduce costs, improve quality, increase access and raise awareness among producers on the effective and efficient use of inputs and agricultural services at the farm and firm levels. Sugu Yiriwa will also build the capacity of agrodealers to promote enhanced technologies for improved access to information related to weather and prices. It will also promote improved labor-saving technologies to improve post-harvest management techniques and support the establishment of input retailer networks.
  3. Increased Market Demand for Consumption of Nutritious and Safe Foods: Sugu Yiriwa will conduct a nutrition and market pathways assessment to understand the factors that drive consumer food choices and diets in the Sugu Yiriwa zone of influence (ZOI). With these results, it will identify opportunities at the market and household levels to fill nutrient gaps by improving the availability, affordability, desirability and consumption of safe and nutritious foods, especially among pregnant and lactating women and children under two.

Partners

  • Mali Agricultural Market Trust (MALIMARK): a Malian nongovernmental organization established in 2010 with the support of CNFA under the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)-funded Agrodealer Strengthening Program. A leader in strengthening agricultural input and service systems in Mali, and with a presence in the Sikasso sub-zone, MALIMARK will design strategies and lead implementation under Objective 2: Improved Access to and Use of Quality and Affordable Inputs and Services, facilitating the development of a more dynamic input and service sector by building the capacity of agrodealers, increasing market linkages, and improving marketing of inputs, technologies, and services.
  • Helen Keller International (HKI): leverages its 20 years of experience in Mali building local capacity to prevent malnutrition by promoting resilience of market actors and vulnerable groups through social and behavior change (SBC) interventions. HKI, which also partners with CNFA on USAID Yalwa, implemented in Niger, will lead Objective 3: Increased Market Demand for Consumption of Nutritious and Safe Foods.

Rice Mill Uses USAID Expertise to Improve Production Efficiency and Expand Operations

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Rice is an important regional and global food staple, eaten regularly by millions in Nigeria and around the world due to its affordability and availability. As national demand for rice rises, the Government of Nigeria is keen to increase local rice production, and reduce reliance on imports, by helping farmers access credit on appropriate terms to increase their scale of production and profitability.

AMMI Integrated Mill was established in 2018 in Argungu, Kebbi State, and has partnered with the USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), over the past year to conduct an Organizational Performance Improvement Needs Assessment of their business and identify and remedy gaps hindering their production.

The assessment highlighted inefficiencies in the mill’s output, which was operating at 60% of its full capacity, mainly due to ill-defined staff roles on AMMI’s rice processing and packaging line. Armed with this knowledge, the Activity supported AMMI to clarify job roles, move excess staff to the drying line, and install a performance system to reward workers for the number of rice bags produced. These adaptations improved output efficiency to 90% and overall worker satisfaction by supporting workers to carry out their duties with efficiency, clarity, and confidence.

“I have running costs under control and a clear understanding of the best business process for us. I am excited about the future.” said Rahmatu Gulma, CEO of AMMI Integrated Mill.

The streamlined system also enabled the mill to sustainably expand its commercial operations as it further diversified into producing parboiled white rice and other products.

“I have leveraged the savings made from the Activity’s cost cutting measures to expand on other business areas. Besides now producing parboiled rice, I also recently started a greenhouse and poultry rearing operation. These new ventures are flourishing thanks to the lessons learned from the interventions done at the Mill.” Gulma concluded.

Rahmatu Gulma, CEO of AMMI Integrated Mill, in her greenhouse.

The Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity aims to strengthen the enabling environment for agribusiness finance and investment in Nigeria, with a focus on four interrelated components: improving the enabling environment for agricultural sector growth; broadening access to finance by mitigating the credit risks of agribusinesses; promoting and facilitating investment opportunities for agribusinesses to expand and scale up operations; and sustainably enhancing the performance of agricultural micro, small and medium size enterprises (MSMEs). By 2023, the Activity aims to viably and sustainably link thousands of MSMEs and producer organizations like AMMI Integrated Mill with high-performing commercial actors in the rice, maize, soybean, aquaculture, and cowpea value chains.

Fish Farmers Association Strengthens Management, Transparency and Fundraising with support of USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity

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In the Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State, an association of fish farmers called Camp 74 is renowned as a major hub for catfish production in Nigeria. Agricultural associations like Camp 74 play an important economic and social role in rural communities. Camp 74 provides farmers with peer-to-peer learning, access to affordable inputs, and a platform to promote their interests and market their products.

To strengthen the association’s management, fundraising potential, and quality of offerings to farmers, Camp 74 partnered with the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), to assess its areas for improvement through an Organizational Performance Improvement Needs Assessment. The Activity also provided expertise on management and leadership through its Micro Enterprise Fundamentals (MEF) and Group Dynamics and Leadership Skills (GDLS) trainings, which taught the group how to use their strong membership to raise funds internally, meeting their needs without resorting to loans and making them more attractive to outside investment and support.

After a thorough review of their needs and their new management skills, the association’s executive council organized an emergency membership meeting, conducted an audit of their accounts, and scheduled an Annual General Meeting (AGM) to help the group become more democratic and transparent to its members and more attractive to outside investment.

Building’s roof replaced, Kiln repaired and concessioner putting it to use.

The Activity also worked with Camp 74 to develop a revenue generation action plan that optimized the association’s existing resources. With the contributions mobilized from its members, Camp 74 rehabilitated its fish processing building and kiln and leased them out to a local private enterprise, further raising funds to improve the association’s management.

Through improved transparency, democratic management, and fundraising, Camp 74 now offers enhanced services and engagement to its member farmers, helping them to improve operations and productivity, strengthen the association, and ensure long-term sustainability. Camp 74 fish farmers are also optimistic that the momentum generated after the Activity’s intervention will be sustained as the association draws strength from its membership to grow and accomplish its goals of improving the inputs, incomes, productivity, and livelihoods of nearby smallholder fish farmers.

Sharing Agricultural Best Practices: Rootstalks and Grafting with Mother Plants

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The USAID Agriculture Program in Georgia demonstrates best practices for handing rootstocks and grafting with mother plants.

Sharing Agricultural Best Practices: Grafting Techniques to Improve Budding and Horticulture Production

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The USAID Agriculture Program in Georgia demonstrates best practices for grafting plants to enhance budding and horticulture production.

Sharing Agricultural Best Practices: Extracting and Preparing Seedlings for Sale

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The USAID Agriculture Program in Georgia demonstrates best practices for extracting and preparing plant seedlings for sale.

 

Reducing Post-Harvest Losses for Persons with Disabilities in Rwanda

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USAID Feed the Future Hinga Weze grant provides post-harvest equipment to persons with disabilities.

Founded in 2007, Twisungane Mageragere, a 140-member cooperative based in Rutsiro district, strives to ensure their members with disabilities meaningfully and consistently gain from income-generating activities through cultivating reliable markets for their produce.

To strengthen their efforts and capacity to support their members with disabilities, the cooperative applied for and received a grant worth $8,600 through the USAID Feed the Future Hinga Weze Activity, implemented by CNFA.

Hinga Weze and the cooperative worked together to promote independence in adults with disabilities and establish a gender support network in the community through Hinga Weze’s gender and social inclusion program.

With the grant, the cooperative purchased post-harvest equipment appropriate for some of its members with disabilities including electronic maize shelling machines, hand shellers, and tricycles to transport produce from the gardens and to the market. With this equipment, the cooperative was able to harvest and process 1.5 metric tons (MT) of maize earning about. USD $350 (350,000 RWF), up from 200 kg harvested the previous season.

“Our members are excited and now feel they can compete favorably against other farmers,” observed Protais Ukizuru, the President of Twisungane Mageragere.

The grant has also enabled female cooperative members to process and transport their produce with ease and have enough time to attend to domestic chores.

Among the 2,111 PWDs supported by Hinga Weze in ten districts across Rwanda, these cooperative members are already considering expanding their farming and maize processing from neighboring farmers to increase their incomes.

Small-Scale Irrigation Technology Transforms Farmer Livelihoods In Rwanda

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Farmers get better yields from improved access to irrigation.

In Kayonza district, part of Rwanda’s drier Eastern province, Beata Mukanyirigira (52), like most farmers, wanted to increase her yields and productivity including access to water for a higher income and better livelihood.

To confront this challenge, farmers in four districts, Bugesera, Ngoma, Kayonza, and Gatsibo, partnered with the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), the Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity, a five-year U.S. Agency for International Development activity implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), and local authorities to bring small-scale irrigation technologies (SSIT) to themselves and hundreds of their peers.

These technologies are small-scale, adaptable and fit for the irrigation needs of smallholder farms and the system is powered by solar energy, making it sustainable, environmentally friendly, and affordable. With support from Hinga Weze and the RAB, nine sites for this irrigation infrastructure have been completed and two sites are under development, covering a total of 200 hectares.

Once Hinga Weze and local authorities identify sites like these, farmers mobilize to consolidate land and form groups and cooperatives to best manage these irrigation systems. To date, over 10 cooperatives and savings groups have formed, attracting private sector partnerships from lending institutions, buyers, traders, and agrodealers. These partners supply agricultural inputs, offer employment opportunities for farmers who work on consolidated farms, provide access to markets, and more.

Because of this greater community cohesion, Hinga Weze could strengthen its relationship with local communities through farmer-led outreach and capacity building interventions. Through these efforts, farmers developed a knowledge base and capacity to manage irrigation infrastructure, contributing to the sustainability of the initiative. Farmers also learned good agriculture practices, which further supported improved crop productivity.

So far, over 1,200 households benefitted from access to the small-scale irrigation infrastructure and this number is expected to increase to include thousands of farmers as this infrastructure will eventually cover 300 total hectares throughout the life of the activity. This undertaking will significantly increase productivity, improve incomes and nutrition, ensure food security, and improve the quality of livelihoods for farmers.