Youth Interns Help Farmers Turn Poultry Farming into Business

Youth Interns Help Farmers Turn Poultry Farming into Business

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Nutrition continues to be a major public health concern in Rwanda, with 38 percent of children under five being classified as stunted and nine percent of children under five manifesting as underweight (RDHS 2014-2015). One significant contributor to stunting is a lack of animal-source food protein consumption, which hinders dietary diversity among Rwandan children. Dietary diversity was also a challenge in the 10 Hinga Weze targeted districts of support including Nyamagabe and Kayonza.

Eggs in Hinga Weze beneficiary dish, supporting increased household income to purchase nutritious foods and increase meat and egg consumption.

To overcome this issue, Hinga Weze adapted the care group model and mobilized household members to join care groups as a conducive space for nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) education, peer learning, saving, and chicken rearing to increase incomes and consumption of nutritious foods for women and children. Animal-sourced foods can provide a variety of micronutrients that are difficult to obtain in adequate quantities from plant source-foods alone. Hinga Weze is committed to contributing to overcome this challenge by increasing small livestock, mainly chicken, available for beneficiaries to increase household income, purchase nutritious foods and increase meat and egg consumption.

To achieve the above, Hinga Weze engaged youth interns to speed up implementation for the activity and work with farmers on how to develop and manage poultry farming. Interns were hired from places where farmers lived so that they would have familiarity and knowledge about the specifics of the area and of farmers’ needs. It also created opportunities for employment and self-reliance for interns to start their own businesses after the end of their ten-month internship period. Over 250 interns have been engaged by Hinga Weze.

Youth interns strengthened the capacities of care groups through different trainings and coaching mostly in good agricultural practices (GAP), nutrition, food safety practices (FSP), from farm to fork, savings, gender, poultry farming and more in Kayonza and Nyamagabe districts, with the aim of achieving Hinga Weze’s objective of nutrition improvement through agriculture. So far, 46 care groups received 9,200 chickens. After receiving chickens, care groups experienced success with the program and members were able to pay back $400 (RWF

Chicken manure and feeds applied to a home garden done with Hinga Weze support by care groups.

400,000) through a pay-back model. “Most of us did not even know that we were supposed to eat better or about nutritious meals due to a lack of skills and knowledge related to nutrition-sensitive agriculture and nutrition. We were ignorant, which contributed to malnutrition in our area,” says Masengesho, the leader of Imbereheza care group in Kayonza district, Ruramira sector, Ruyonza in Taba village. “Our lives have now been changed and improved. We are getting sufficient and balanced diets but also investing in the poultry business as a care group to provide services to our neighbors.”

Hinga Weze has since given 203,271 chickens in 10 districts to 27,522 households, which has greatly contributed to improved household nutrition. The poultry program has also thrived for farmers supported by youth interns attached to care groups, who have instituted weekly savings and taught joint household budgeting to farmers, an undertaking that has strengthened poultry businesses, increased incomes and improved livelihoods at the household level.

 

 

Ailing Fruit Project Saved by New Solar Irrigation

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Farmer Jean Claude Sindikubwabo (35) has experienced a long and painful journey from the time he started farming in 2014. Like most beginners, he started off on the wrong foot, seeing losses on his first vegetable harvest mainly due to a lack of knowledge and unconducive weather conditions around Bugesera, one of Rwanda’s driest districts. Unfortunately, he never fully recovered from that bad start until much later in November 2019, when he received an approx. $4,000 (RWF 4 million) bank loan to invest in watermelon farming that matured the following year in March 2020. By bad luck, that coincided with the first total lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic! The project was doomed without access to markets. The pain of watching his produce rot in the garden and the thought of the unpaid bank loan were too much to bear. Sindikubwabo needed urgent help.

That same year, Sindikubwabo joined 63 farmers on Kamabuye solar irrigation site, one of the sites set up in the four districts of Gatsibo, Ngoma, Kayonza and Bugesera by the Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity and the Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB). Funded by USAID, Hinga Weze mobilized the farmers into a cooperative and coached them on good farming and climate smart practices. Hinga Weze aims to improve productivity and incomes for 535,000 farmers, improve nutritional intake for women and children and build the resilience of agriculture to climate changes.

Fully equipped with new skills, Sindikubwabo returned to farming. He also learned to diversify and grow other crops, which he marketed ahead of harvest time in order to minimize losses. Last season alone, Sindikubwabo sold 178 sacks of green pepper and nine tons of watermelon for a combined total of approx. $3,059 (RWF 3,080,000). This adds to $5,294,907 (approx. RWF 5 billion) gained by farmers in sales value for horticulture. Like the other 12,000 farmers on solar-irrigation sites across the four districts, Sindikubwabo is able to plant vegetables and fruits all-year around, unlike previously when they would wait for favorable seasons.

“I’m able to pump water upstream for irrigation without spending a lot of money on fuel and labor,” observed Sindikubwabo. He was also able to use profits from farming to set up a permanent house and a piggery project. He employees four permanent staff and 25 casual laborers, whom he supports with soft loans and vegetables for their families’ welfare.

As Hinga Weze winds up, Sindikubwabo has paid off 90 percent of the bank loan and is now planning to expand his farming business.

Technology Adoption in Livestock and Dairy Sectors Lead to Better Animal Health and Increased Sales

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In Pakistan, approximately 65% of women work in the country’s agriculture sector—a majority of which are involved in livestock care and management activities such as calf rearing, cattle cleaning, milking and producing home-based dairy products like butter and yogurt. The USAID-funded Pakistan Agricultural Technology Transfer Activity (PATTA), implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), supports women smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs by working to increase their access to modern technologies and improve their management practices in high-value sectors like dairy and livestock.

Within these sectors, improved feed varieties and technologies play an important role in enhancing animal diets and health. Through its partnership with woman-owned agribusiness Farm Solutions, PATTA introduced improved feed varieties and feed formulation and nutrition practices to women farmers in the northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). By improving livestock nutrition, farmers were able to improve the quality of their meat and dairy products and subsequently increase their profits.

In early 2019, PATTA and Farm Solutions also held a series of women-centric awareness-raising sessions and demonstrations in villages across GB. Attended by a large number of women farmers, the events supported them to develop linkages with local dealers like Farm Solutions and motivated them to adopt modern, science-based feed for their cattle.

Farhat Bibi, woman dairy farmer, benefits from the adoption of improved feed technology for her cattle.

Farhat Bibi, a session participant and dairy farmer from the Barmas village in GB, learned the optimum amount of feed and timing needed to keep her cows healthy and productive. She also learned about and tried the improved ‘Barkat’ feed variety noting, “Its usage not only increased my yield of milk up to two liters per day, but also improved the health of my cattle. In addition to these benefits, the price of this feed is affordable for majority of dairy farmers.” Due to this increase in production, she now earns an additional 4,000 rupees per month in milk sales, which helps her improve her family’s livelihood and expand her business.

Reaching farmer communities across Pakistan with modern agricultural technologies, particularly in the most remote areas of the country, is vital for advancing agricultural productivity, increasing smallholder incomes and jobs and enhancing economic growth. While the current pace of technology adoption among farmers in Pakistan is slow, PATTA continues to promote enabling environments that allow smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs, particularly women, to invest resources in agricultural activities and increase technology uptake. By its end, PATTA anticipates that over 50,000 women will benefit from technology transfer, investments in agricultural technologies and awareness-raising initiatives.

Provincial Study Tour Promotes Stronger Agricultural Technology Enabling Environment

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As technology plays a larger role in increasing agricultural productivity, enhancing competitivity and lowering barriers to access, the adoption of affordable, appropriate agricultural technologies has become essential to improve rural incomes and livelihoods. In Pakistan, USAID-funded Pakistan Agricultural Technology Transfer Activity’s (PATTA) partners closely with Provincial Agriculture Departments to increase farmers’ access to these technologies and support the modernization of farming communities across the country.

As part of this government collaboration, PATTA organized a four-day study tour to Punjab province in early 2021 for government officials from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The tour aimed to facilitate knowledge sharing between the two governments and to showcase the Government of Punjab’s new agricultural initiatives—specifically the region’s agricultural call centers, which were established during COVID-19 as a socially distant way to promote good agricultural practices, improved inputs and technologies and regional extension services to smallholder farmers.

On-site demo of high-tech precision agriculture technologies by Farm Dynamics Pakistan.

On the tour, KP officials observed a data collection system and a live stream of farmer queries and technical expert responses at a call center for extension services. Punjab officials also briefed attendees on their SMART agriculture initiative, which improves soil and productivity by issuing soil health cards, profiling the soil on farmers’ fields and conducting data recording and traceability analyses. They further shared key best practices including their International Organization for Standardization (ISO): 17025 analytical laboratory certification systems and their ability to improve analyses of soil, water, agrochemicals and fertilizer traceability.

In addition to meeting with government officials in Punjab, attendees visited several of PATTA’s private-sector partners. To demonstrate how these partners manage their agriculture and livestock technology businesses, the group toured agricultural machinery production facilities and a model slaughterhouse and were given an on-site demonstration of high-tech precision agriculture technologies.

The study tour not only strengthened linkages between officials and private sector actors from KP and Punjab, but it also showcased ways to improve KP’s agricultural productivity through the use of modern technologies. The leader of the KP delegation, KP Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Dr. Israr Ahmad Khan, expressed his appreciation for PATTA’s work to organize the visit and emphasized his government’s support for future collaboration with PATTA and its agribusiness partners.

By facilitating linkages and collaboration between provincial governments, PATTA helps modernize the agriculture sector in Pakistan and strengthen the enabling environment for agricultural technology adoption. This improved enabling environment will support PATTA’s work to lift barriers, enable awareness, and promote agricultural technology uptake across the country’s provinces, benefitting 132,506 small farmers by the end of 2021.

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.