PRO-Cashew Training Increases Farmer Incomes

PRO-Cashew Training Increases Farmer Incomes

Posted On: Filed Under:

Sumaila Edibo is a cashew farmer living in Iyale, a settlement in the Kogi state in central Nigeria. Since Edibo’s two-ha cashew farm provides his family with their primary livelihood and source of income, he decided to partner with the USDA Food for Progress-funded West Africa PRO-Cashew Project in 2021 to learn how he could improve his business skills, agronomic practices and harvest and post-harvest handling to increase his farm’s productivity and revenue.

Edibo participated in all of the trainings organized by PRO-Cashew in Nigeria where he learned best practices for weeding, timely pest management and disease control and harvest and post-harvest handling. He also learned how to collect and analyze relevant market information from buyers like Sonata Agri International, a local agro-processor, to improve farm-level decision-making and take advantage of market opportunities.

After Edibo applied these improved practices on his orchard, the productivity of his farm significantly increased. Edibo recounted that in 2021, before his participation in the training program, his farm yield was approximately 960 kg per ha, for which he earned $960 (NGN 420,000). In 2022, however, his farm yield increased by about 25% to 1,200 kg per ha. As a result of his farm’s increased output and the better prices he began receiving for his products through his partnership with Sonata Agri International, Edibo recorded an annual income of $1,710 (NGN750,000)—a 79% increase over the previous year.

Sumaila Edibo purchased a motorcycle to haul goods with his increased cashew earnings.

Edibo explained how the training program has benefitted farmers across Iyale, highlighting that the majority of local trainees have embarked on different projects throughout the community, such as building houses, launching new businesses, digging boreholes and installing grinding machines, with the additional revenue they acquired from the sale of cashew nuts. Edibo himself used his additional income to purchase a three-wheeled motorcycle with a trailer for hauling goods. This has enabled him to provide rural logistical services to farmers within and beyond his community, further increasing his earnings. Following the advice of a Sonata Agri International extension officer who provided training in partnership with PRO-Cashew in 2022, Edibo also saved $1,256 (NGN 550,000) of his cashew nut sales, which he used to sustain his family during the cashew off-season.

When asked about the impact of the training program on his livelihood, Edibo said, “Before participating in the project, transporting harvested goods from me and my friends’ farms was always a major challenge. We had to walk long distances, sometimes above three kilometers from our farms to our homes with heavy loads on our heads.”

Edibo plans to expand his farm to three hectares in 2023 using the new improved seedlings that the PRO-Cashew Project is distributing to farmers and nurseries. Next year, Edibo also hopes to help his wife start a small grocery business in the community.

Improving Post-Harvest Practices to Increase Cashew Farmers Income

Posted On: Filed Under:

Salifa Yahaya is a farmer from Labaka-Oja, a small settlement in the Kwara State of Nigeria, where about 80% of the residents are cashew farmers. Despite the region’s climate and soil conditions being apt for farming raw cashew nuts, local producers face other issues that hinder their operations. More specifically, unfavorable market conditions as well as a lack of technology make it difficult to harvest large yields and produce high-quality cashew nuts to sell for higher prices. Despite managing a relatively large farm of 11 ha, this affected Yahaya.

To address these barriers, the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project (PRO-Cashew) collaborated with Sonata Nigeria formerly known as Huxley Nigeria, a company specializing in the processing and exporting of raw cashew nuts, to host a series of training sessions—one of which Yahaya attended. In this training, Yahaya and other local farmers learned new harvest and post-harvest practices to implement on their farms to produce better results. They were also trained in business operating techniques to make the most out of their improved cashew yields.

“I never thought I could get so much more money just by drying my cashew nuts,” she said. “I also never believed in keeping those little farm records and consistently saving small amounts of money until Sonata Nigeria trained us. I am so grateful I didn’t miss out.”

Applying the tools and trainings received from PRO-Cashew enabled Salifa Yahaya to diversify her income.

In the previous harvesting season, Yahaya was only able to collect 3.5 MT of raw cashew nuts due to many parts of her farm being inaccessible from orchard overgrowth. Applying pruning and management practices from the Sonata Nigeria training, Yahaya was able to improve her orchard’s conditions and collect larger and higher quality yields. This harvest season, she collected about 5 MT of raw cashew nuts. By drying the nuts, Yahaya was able to increase the quality of her product even further and sell for a higher price than she would have if the nuts were wet, earning about 7% more than her peers.

Before participating in Sonata Nigeria’s training, Yahaya did not approach her cashew production as a business, but rather as means to support just herself and her family. With a new business outlook, she now meticulously records production and sales figures, making it easier to re-invest into her enterprise and engage in other profitable activities. Yahaya also joined a savings group which allows her to allocate money toward other plans she may, following the recommendation of a Sonata Nigeria extension worker.

As part of the PRO-Cashew Agricultural Extension Grant program’s objective of establishing stronger supply chain linkages between producers and exporters, a grant was provided to Sonata Nigeria to continue supporting raw cashew nut producers with agricultural extension services. The grant also aims to enhance the local processing company’s supply chain and open doors for producers to find more selling opportunities.

Cashew Nut Purchasing Network: Improving Incomes and Smallholder Farmer Guarantees

Posted On: Filed Under:

The cashew industry is expanding rapidly in Côte d’Ivoire, one of the world’s top cashew producing countries, however its potential for quality production, processing and domestic and export trade has yet to be fully realized. To help farmers receive a quality-based price increase on cashew sales, Sonata Côte d’Ivoire (CI) formerly known as Huxley Cote d’Ivoire—a company specialized in the processing and export of raw cashew nut (RCN)—is partnering with the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project. Implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), PRO-Cashew aims to increase the incomes of farmers in the West African cashew sector by improving crop quality, supporting value chain linkages between farmers and agribusinesses and strengthening efficiency and quality in production and trade.

As part of the PRO-Cashew Agricultural Extension Grant program to establish stronger supply chain linkages between producers and processors, Sonata CI was selected to receive a three-year $200,000 grant to invest in a Supply Chain Program to offer training on good agricultural practices and post-harvest handling to more than 10,000 cashew producers.

At the start of the 2020/2021 cashew season, PRO-Cashew supported Sonata CI to train 30 Lead Farmers and Sonata CI staff on good agricultural practices. These Lead Farmers then trained an additional 2,581 producers across five regions where the company’s collection centers are located. Supported by PRO-Cashew, Sonata CI also facilitated the organization of cashew producer groups in each locality, establishing a high-quality RCN supply network. By offering competitive prices to farmers and supporting quality production through training, Sonata CI is improving agricultural practices and incomes for cashew producers across Côte d’Ivoire and helping farmers invest their profits back into their production.

Sameer Kohinkar, the procurement manager of Sonata CI.

“The project has given a tremendous boost to the implementation of our procurement strategy,” said Sameer Kohinkar, Procurement Manager of Sonata CI since 2018. “The training of trainers and producers led by PRO-Cashew and the establishment of producer groups in the villages have enabled us to build a reliable network of producers and cooperatives in the major cashew producing regions of Côte d’Ivoire,” he added. “Now, thanks to our purchasing network, in less than two years, we have developed a strong supply system. In return, we pay cash at a price set by the state trade regulation authority, and we offer price-based incentives to encourage farmers to produce good quality nuts, which results in a higher price for the farmer,” Kohinkar explains.

The Sonata CI Supply Chain Program has only been active for a year and a half, but the preliminary results are promising. The volume of cashews purchased directly from farmers by Sonata CI, without intermediaries, increased by 59.9% from 1,614 tons to 2,581 tons from May 2020 to May 2021. Aiming to incentivize quality RCN production, Sonata CI developed an agreement with farmers to increase the minimum price of 305,000 FCFA/MT, approximately $505/MT, set by the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, by 10,000 FCFA/MT or an additional $16. Sonata CI’s higher purchasing price encourages producers to adopt quality production methods. It also improves farmer access to more profitable markets while improving supply chain efficiencies (i.e., developing a dependable and quality RCN supply).

One Cooperative’s Improved Organizational Capacity Strengthens Services Offered to Producers in Rural Mozambique

Posted On: Filed Under:

The Forum of Associations of Producers of Mathariya (FACAM) is a smallholder farmer cooperative in the Rubáuè District of Nampula Province, Mozambique, that was formally registered in 2008 to serve as a platform organization for different associations. FACAM has 421 members, of whom 220 are women, distributed across 22 smallholder farmer clubs, each of which has its own leadership. The main purpose of FACAM is to provide commercialization services to members, as well as to protect forest resources, disseminate best practices for the sustainable use of mineral resources and advocate on behalf of those affected by epidemic and endemic diseases like HIV/AIDS within the members’ communities.

Although FACAM aspired to grow its organization and business ventures, an assessment conducted by the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program in June 2021 highlighted several improvements that the Forum needed to make in order to take their activities to the next level. For example, low membership retention resulted in a reduction in income from dues, which are used to fund the cooperative. Additionally, the cooperative’s high turnover rate meant that FACAM members had limited relationships with clients, and therefore fewer clients using their commercialization services. The cooperative also had inconsistent organizational management and record keeping structures, making it difficult to track operations and extract data for financial statements.

In October 2021, the cooperative received its first of two F2F paired assignments involving local volunteers working on the ground while collaborating with U.S.-based volunteers remotely. The local volunteer, Dieter Savaio from Manica province, is a teacher at the Higher Polytechnic Institute of Manica. He is also a shareholder of Emilia Commercial Seed Company and a consultant who had spare time to volunteer with F2F due to the COVID-19 restrictions placed on in-person classes. The U.S. volunteer, Joe McFadden from New Jersey, spent the last 40 years of his career as a certified public accountant working in accounting, auditing, budgeting, financial analysis and financial reporting.

After assessing FACAM’s financial management practices, the volunteers assisted their managers to set up a simple financial management and bookkeeping system. As a result, the cooperative now uses printed forms to document sales, expenses, income statements, balance sheets and controls of stock, debtors, creditors and cash flow.

In December 2021, Savaio again supported FACAM, this time with veteran U.S. volunteer Pamela Karg from Wisconsin, to assist the cooperative in improving their organizational capacity. The volunteer assistance focused on increasing due payments and strengthening leadership and association management, including improving understanding of the association’s function and the rights and duties of members. The volunteers conducted a SWOT analysis with the FACAM board members to assess major operational constraints. The volunteers also trained the club members associated with FACAM in association function, highlighting the importance of participatory management strategies. At the end of the assignment, Savaio presented recommendations to FACAM Board members for improving the organization and helping them achieve their goals.

As result of the F2F trainings, currently 60% of the members are paying their dues – a considerable increase from before. Additionally, sale volumes increased from 640 ton in 2021 to 970 ton in 2022, as an increasing number of farmer clubs commercialized their products through FACAM due to its improved organization and services offered to clubs and non-associated producers.

Fast forward and in August 2022, FACAM received a grant from the INKOTA consortium to initiate mechanization and transport services through the purchase of tools such as a tractor and a trailer. Even though INKOTA received applications from four cooperatives located in Ribáuè district, FACAM was the only one that met the conditions required by INKOTA to have a strong organizational capacity.

Antonio Joaquim, president of FACAM, noted his gratitude for the assistance his cooperative received from F2F volunteers, stating that “FACAM now develops its business in a professional way. Our vision is to continue growing and we will count on more assistance from F2F to support us to better position ourselves in the market.”

USAID Supports Kaduna Grain Aggregator to Access Finance and Boost Global Food Security

Posted On: Filed Under:

As the world faces unprecedented challenges and worsening food crises, the demand for grain has skyrocketed and, with it, its cost. In Nigeria, producers and marketers like Kaduna-based grain aggregator Adefunke Desh Nigeria Ltd have the opportunity to help meet growing local and international demand by producing more grain and seizing a larger chunk of the global grain market.

Adefunke Desh Nigeria Ltd specializes in the cultivation and processing of grains such as maize, sorghum, millet and soybeans for local and international buyers. To help ensure the consistent supply of grain, they work with companies in North-West Nigeria who produce fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), such as Cadbury PLC, Nestle PLC, Flour Mills Ltd, Guinness Nigeria and other specialized feed and food processing companies.

In an effort to scale up operations, Adefunke Desh Nigeria Ltd partnered with the USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity to receive support in accessing finance valued at over $4,705,882 (1.5 billion Naira) from financial institutions across the country. The Activity provided training on good agronomic practices to 348 lead farmers in the company’s outgrower network during the 2021 wet season, which qualified the farmers to receive input loans worth $4.2 million (1.6 billion Naira). They also helped improve farmers’ knowledge on cultivation best practices, which increased their productivity and incomes, and in turn, improved Adefunke Desh’s production and supply.

Adefunke Desh representative displays communication collateral developed during Activity workshop.

Simultaneously, the Activity supported the agribusiness to develop a planting management database, which helps them manage their farmers’ progress and track input distribution, farming and harvesting information. They also facilitated an organizational performance improvement intervention which helped the firm strengthen their operations and engage in an environmental and social impact assessment. This support enabled Adefunke Desh Nigeria Ltd to access an additional $2,910,621 (1.3 billion Naira) in finance through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, distributed by Sterling Bank PLC.

“We were able to easily access finance because our organizational performance improved with support from the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity and the environmental and social compliance they helped us to obtain. We are excited at what lies ahead of us,” said Adeoluwa Adeshola, Adefunke Desh’s managing director.

The ongoing support provided by the Activity continues to help Adefunke Desh Nigeria Ltd achieve their expansion, drive their competitiveness and increase the incomes of smallholder farmers within their network. With a solid reputation for producing and supplying top-quality grains to FMCG companies, Adefunke Desh Nigeria Ltd is well on its way to becoming a market leader among grain aggregators in Nigeria’s agricultural sector. Additionally, by maintaining a consistent and reliable supply chain for grain cultivation, aggregation and processing in Nigeria, the firm, and by extension, the Activity, is boosting food security across the country and around the globe.

Musgola Fish Farms to Double Production through Access to Finance

Posted On: Filed Under:

Nigeria’s annual fish production currently stands at 0.8 million metric tons per year, which is 2.7 million tons short of the local demand. To help increase domestic production and meet local demand for one of the country’s most consumed proteins, fish production firms like Musgola Farms Ltd need all the support they can get to improve their output, quality and capacity.

Since 2021, the USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity has provided technical support to Musgola Farms Ltd, a fish production firm based in Minna, Niger State, by helping them structure a business plan proposal to access $56,470 (24 million Naira) in finance through Sterling Bank’s Women and Youth in Agriculture Finance (SWAY-AGFin) product.

The firm received the payment in two disbursements of $28,235 (12 million Naira), each over a six-month moratorium period and with a standing agreement to keep receiving funds on a rolling basis. They received the first disbursement in October 2021, which they quickly paid back, and received another $28,235 (12 million Naira) in June 2022. With the funds from the first disbursement, the company turned over a profit of $9,827 (5 million Naira).

“We completed the first production cycle with the $28,235 (12 million Naira) we received, and we sold about $38,062 (17 million Naira) worth of fish,” said Umar Musa, CEO of Musgola Farms Ltd. He added that the firm will continue to access $28,235 (12 million Naira) or more on a rolling basis as they adhere to the repayment window per cycle over the next two years.

Musgola Farms Ltd representatives during a field monitoring visit to Minna, Niger State.

Highlighting how the funding helped his business increase its production capacity and produce more fish, Musa, who is also the founder and head of a fish cluster in Minna, said, “The money we received from Sterling Bank helped us to increase our fingerling stocking capacity from 100,000 per annum to 130,000.” He noted that the firm was also able to increase their fish feed production to provide feed,  not just for his farm, but for the rest of his 300-member fish cluster which owns over 2,500 ponds, each with a stocking capacity of at least 5,000 fingerlings.

Musa expressed confidence that the firm will sustain their relationship with the bank in order to access more funding but noted that the firm needs more working capital to meet the growing demand for fish products, especially in nearby Abuja where demand for catfish products is high.

“Our cluster controls the fish market in Minna, but we want to acquire a market share in Abuja where we know demand is very high,” he said.

With an annual product shortage of 1.9 million metric tons of fish, much support is still needed to optimize production to cover this gap. The Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity will continue to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the aquaculture value chain to enhance their performance and strengthen access to finance, enabling them to expand their businesses and optimize their growth.

Feed the Future Supports Women Entrepreneurs to Expand their Skills and Participate in International Fairs

Posted On: Filed Under:

To support women farmers and entrepreneurs working across the Sikasso Subzone, the USAID-funded Feed the Future Mali Sugu Yiriwa activity builds the competitiveness and resilience of female market actors by enhancing their capacity and increasing their access to key business linkages.

In June 2022, Sugu Yiriwa supported three women entrepreneurs from Sikasso, Bougouni, and Koutialato—Ami Bagayoyo, Diarrah Traore Kamissoko and Rokia Togola—to participate in the 22nd edition of the Foire Internationale de l’Agriculture et des Ressources Animales (FIARA) exhibition held in Dakar, Senegal in the leadup to Tabaski.

The three participants were first prize winners of a culinary competition organized by Sugu Yiriwa in May 2022, which highlighted nutritious local recipes and processed foods from the activity’s focal value chains of cereals, cowpeas, horticultural products, poultry and small ruminants. The women were also first-time FIARA attendees and shared the costs of the trip with Sugu Yiriwa.

Prior to the fair, Sugu Yiriwa trained Bagayoyo, Kamissoko and Rokia Togola to improve their marketing and price negotiation skills, which helped them outshine their competitors. They also received support from previous FIARA participants, enabling them to make informed decisions about what to present during the fair.

Ami Bagayoyo, Diarrah Traore Kamissoko and Rokia Togola at their stall during the Foire Internationale de l’Agriculture et des Ressources Animales (FIARA) exhibition held in Dakar, Senegal.

Bagayoyo of the Cooperative DIOBA de Koutiala recalled, “Even though this was the first time I participated in FIARA, thanks to the information I received, I was able to bring honey and Tô mougou (a product made from corn), which sold for high prices in the Senegalese market. If I have the opportunity to participate in the next fair, I will be ready to bring more products and therefore generate more income.”

Together the women sold their full inventories, which included processed cereals, chia butter and honey worth $3,400 (2,164,500 FCFA). Their participation in FIARA also opened up new business horizons as they succeeded in establishing connections with wholesalers in Dakar, Mborur and Thies.

Recognizing the economic feasibility of participating in the fair, the participants expressed their willingness to contribute to the costs of the trip and to increase the quantity of products they would supply at future exhibitions.

Kamissoko from the Groupement Balimaya de Bougouni said, “During the fair, I made higher profits negotiating with wholesalers as well as selling honey and millet transformed into dèguè mougou—a product that was in great demand in Dakar. If I have another opportunity to participate in FIARA, I look forward to showcasing more products and contributing to the cost of the fair.”

A Champion Small Ruminant Trader Serves as A Role Model for Future Women Entrepreneurs

Posted On: Filed Under:

Adiaratou Sangaré is a small ruminants’ trader from Yanfolila, Mali, who has been perfecting her practice for over 13 years. At age 37, the mother of six is also a member of the Association of Small Ruminants’ Traders of Yanfolila, a partner of the Feed the Future Mali Sugu Yiriwa Activity, which works to strengthen market systems, sustainably improve household incomes, and improve the nutritional status of women and children in the Sikasso sub-zone.

Over the years, Sangaré has established a climate of trust with local breeders who have agreed to sell her their animals and provide payment after the animal’s sale. Additionally, with Sangaré’s experience and through the investment of a close relative who grants her interest-free loans, she leads her business and ensures that she can afford healthcare, school and clothing fees for her children without having to turn to financial institutions for support.

To facilitate market opportunities for farmers and entrepreneurs like Sangaré working across the Southern Zone of Mali, Sugu Yiriwa organized seven small ruminant fairs in line with the Tabaski holiday from June 25 – July 8, 2022. The fairs aimed at enhancing participants’ access to critical business linkages and breaking the cycle of middlemen who dominate the small ruminant market.

Adiaratou Sangaré awarded best buyer prize at Koumantou fair.

Sangaré attended the Sugu Yiriwa fair in Niena on June 25 before participating in the Koumantou fair, where she was awarded Sugu Yiriwa’s best buyer prize for purchasing 558 heads of sheep and goat worth $57,365 (36,756,500 FCFA). As the Tabaski holiday approached and the demand for sheep and goats grew higher, Sangaré benefitted from increased prices at the fair in her hometown of Yanfolila and sold 478 animals for $93,446 (59,875,792 FCFA). Here, she was again awarded a prize from Sugu Yiriwa, this time as the best seller in Yanfolila.

Sangaré serves as a role model for her community and is currently providing hands-on training in price negotiation and animal quality assessment to three women who shadowed her at the fairs. Sangaré has also created 10 permanent jobs for eight small re-sellers and two laborers, as well as temporary labor jobs during periods of intense activity. Additionally, at the community level, she provides sheep on credit for community events.

Reflecting on the fairs, Sangaré said, “Thanks to Sugu Yiriwa, I found all my needs for quality animals without having to travel far away, which led me to reduce my costs and maximize profits. I am also proud of myself for having received the biggest buyer prize in Koumantou. This grand gesture motivates me to participate in Sugu Yiriwa’s events in the upcoming year.”

USAID Yalwa Supports Nigerien Entrepreneur to Turn Volunteering into A Successful Business

Posted On: Filed Under:

Rahila Ali, a 35-year-old mother of five, has been a participant of the Feed the Future-funded USAID Yalwa Activity since 2019. A resident of the village of Kotaré in the Maradi region of Niger, Mrs. Ali took an interest in initiating income generating activities (IGAs) to support her community and help generate income for her family after her second pregnancy. In addition to her IGAs, Mrs. Ali has often volunteered to support projects in her locality. According to the chief of her village, “her patience and her developed interpersonal skills made her the ideal choice to support activities in our locality.” She has so far been an instructor for youth learning machine sewing and manual knitting, and a facilitator in awareness activities on sexual health for girls in her community.

Mrs. Ali, a participant of USAID Yalwa’s Women’s Self-Development and Empowerment training. Mrs. Ali has turned several of her volunteer activities into income-generating activities to further support herself and her family.

Mrs. Ali’s first IGA focused on weaving and selling children’s hats and outfits. She later invested in small ruminant breeding with one goat that she was able to buy with her savings. Benefiting from the diversity of her interventions with her peers, whose trust she had gained, Mrs. Ali invited her colleagues to set up a tontine- loan plan to support members and fund their initiatives. Mrs. Ali also helped create a cooperative with about 40 members, primarily women, called MISECO. The cooperative received training on millet, cowpea, sorghum and peanut production techniques and was provided seeds for cultivation. They produced crops for three years and participated in group sales, including to institutions such as the World Food Programme.

Mrs. Ali also participated in USAID Yalwa’s Women’s Self-Development and Empowerment training which allowed her to grow, share her experience and skills in farming and develop a personal action plan to strengthen her IGAs and increase her income. Mrs. Ali initially expanded her sheep and goat rearing activity, using the “Habanayé” model, where she rotated three goats to other women so that they could collect the kids. In this model, the first lamb is for the beneficiary women, and the second is reserved for Mrs. Ali, allowing the women to build up their herd while Mrs. Ali expands her own. She then invested in purchasing a grain mill which generated about $3 (2,000 FCFA) per day. The income from the activities developed with support from USAID Yalwa also allowed Mrs. Ali to strengthen her economic autonomy by diversifying her investments, such as developing her women and children’s clothing and accessory business with $72 (45,000 FCFA) of start-up capital, which she was able to increase to $643 (400,000 FCFA).

The profits from Mrs. Ali’s business also enabled her to buy a piece of land for $1,124 (700,000 FCFA) and to build a store with permanent materials for her goods for $1,044 (650,000 FCFA). Additionally, she highlighted that her IGAs helped her with “more ease to provide for the needs of my family, my parents and my community.” Indeed, Mrs. Ali recently financed the reconstruction of her father’s house with her funds and constructed a drinking water point that she made available to the neighboring women. Now, the women can get water for free, while Mrs. Ali collects used water and the bran from cereals and peanuts to feed her sheep—a sustainable solution for her business and for her community.