Amalima Loko

Amalima Loko

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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: 

Cultivating Young Changemakers for Agricultural Innovation

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Young Osama Shahid joined his family-owned Punjab-based agricultural manufacturing business ‘Soby Ag Engineers’ in 2016 with a clear mission: to tackle Pakistani small farmers’ challenges and improve their productivity through innovation in the agriculture sector. “Our business scope was limited, and we performed functions on a seasonal basis at harvesting and land preparation time only and manufactured a small range of seasonal agricultural machinery. In 2018, we were headed towards a downfall due to Pakistan’s stifling economic climate, political instability, and core manufacturing challenges but I was passionate about bringing change,” explained 26-year old Osama.

Osama’s trajectory took a new direction when he stumbled upon USAID Pakistan Agricultural Technology Transfer Activity’s (PATTA) call for partnership on a local recruitment website. The four-year technical assistance project is dedicated to investing in agri-preneurs, innovators, and leaders including farmers, dealers, and owners of private sector agribusinesses to collectively revitalize agriculture and transfer game-changing innovations across Pakistan.

In January 2019, Osama signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with PATTA and began attending the project-facilitated agricultural technology demonstrations sessions across Pakistan. With PATTA, Osama explored new fruit and vegetable markets in Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit-Baltistan and met diverse local farmer groups. “Based on my direct interaction with small farmers mobilized by PATTA, I quickly learned about their struggles. I realized that the average landholding size of small farmers in Pakistan is less than five acres and in order to reduce their overhead costs for better economic returns, I had to somehow introduce affordable and small agricultural tools and equipment,” said Osama.

As a result of this new learning, Osama imported small two-wheel tractors, three-wheel tractors, and handy tools such as brush cutters, hand push seeders, and other multipurpose tools priced at an affordable range of PKR 10,000-20,000. Osama believed that by adopting these small agricultural tools, farmers could reap more benefits and plant a diverse range of vegetables and crops including maize, peas, peanut, sunflower, wheat, and rice. He collaborated with PATTA and demonstrated these technologies at the project’s agricultural demonstrations in districts Rahim Yar Khan, Sheikhupura, Mardan, Peshawar, Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas, Tando Jam, and Hunza, among others. “I was able to grow my portfolio from eight to 100 agricultural products and tools for small farmers in a span of one year with PATTA’s facilitation. I have now bid farewell to the days of ‘seasonal’ working,” he added.

PATTA also helps its private-sector partners develop new, targeted solutions to respond to the needs of Pakistani smallholders. For example, as Osama came closer to accomplishing some of his goals, he used PATTA’s guidance and facilitation in Research and Development (R&D) to develop wheat harvesting and land preparation machinery. “Wheat is the largest crop in Pakistan and involves intense labor including harvesting, binding, and threshing. PATTA supported me in my efforts to design, re-engineer, and manufacture mini tractors and reaper binders. We successfully performed reverse engineering of these machines which allow farmers to save time, reduce fuel consumption and increase production,” Osama said. In September 2019, PATTA mobilized 500 farmers and facilitated Osama in launching and promoting these new innovations in Kala Shah Kaku, District Sheikhupura in Punjab province in collaboration with the Rice Research Institute (RRI), Government of Pakistan. To date, PATTA’s support has led Osama to sell 35 mini tractors and 94 reaper binders priced at PKR 300,000 and PKR 750,000 respectively.

Following his collaboration with PATTA, Osama was recently shortlisted for a sustainable small farming start-up idea at the National Incubation Centre at Lahore University of Management Sciences. “I owe my success to USAID PATTA since the project has helped me create new solutions for local manufacturing. In Pakistan, we will have to focus on local manufacturing to make agriculture sustainable. Many investors are now keen to invest in my business for expansion,” he explained. This is just one example of how PATTA has successfully collaborated with the private sector and empowered the youth to build linkages with farmers and make a difference by improving productivity and enhancing competitiveness.

Post-Harvest Handling Practices Change Fortunes for Carrot Farmers

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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.

USAID/FAS Project Supports Establishment of Collection Tents to facilitate Access to Export Markets

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Approximately 1,700 smallholder tomato, onion, pomegranate, and fennel farmers competitively sold and exported their crops through collection tents established in Assiut, Sohag, and Qena governorates in Upper Egypt with the support of the USAID Food Security and Agribusiness Support (FAS) project. The collection tents – centralized locations where buyers and exporters can collect crops in lieu of traveling inefficiently to a variety of fields – were established on a cost-share basis between FAS and farmer associations in the three governorates.

The FAS-supported collection tents help farmer associations support their members by facilitating linkages between buyers and exporters, leading to sales contracts with farmers. To ensure national quality standards of the crops, the project also facilitated proper coding of the crops aggregated in the collection tents to meet the requirements of the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA).

Through the project’s support, farmers reduced the time and labor spent collecting crops, maintained an adequate quality of crops, and increased their sales volume and selling prices from the previous season, resulting in increased incomes for smallholder horticulture farmers. Pomegranate farmers using the collection tents sold 1,200 tons of pomegranates to three exporters in the 2019 season for EGP 4,800,000 ($305,565), over twice the volume and three times the revenue from the previous season when farmers only sold 500 tons of pomegranate at EGP 1,500,000 ($95,489).

This season, FAS expects that farmers will sell 300 tons of onion at EGP 900,000 ($57,293), compared to last season’s EGP 600,000 ($38,195), and that farmers will sell 50 tons of thyme at EGP 550,000 ($35,012) compared to EGP 500,000 ($31,829).

Agri-Management Group of Georgia LLC

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AMGG property before the project implementation – August, 2019

AMGG property – January, 2020

Hazelnut Husking, Drying and Storage Facility in Village Eniseli, Kvareli Municipality, Kakheti Region.

Agri-Management Group of Georgia (AMGG) LLC, established in December 2018, is located in Eniseli village, Kvareli municipality, Kakheti region. The area is well known for growing hazelnuts due to its fertile soil and amenable climate. Currently, total hazelnut orchard area in these villages exceeds 4,000 hectares and average yield equals more than 4,000 tons, almost the 7% of the country’s total production.

Mr. Dimitri Aleqsidze, Director of AMGG LLC, graduated from Tbilisi State University and Paris University, is an economist and Jurisprudence specialist, and has more than 6 years of experience in hazelnut sector.

The total cost of the project is $340,000 and is jointly financed by the Agricultural and Rural Development Agency (ARDA), covering 50% of project costs,  AgriGeorgia/Ferrero, with the grant of EUR 50,000, USAID/G-HIP with the grant of USD 50,000 and partner and is good example and showcase of cooperation of Georgian Government,  Donor Program and private sectors.

Existence of this facility is very important to secure the quality of hazelnuts and consequently incomes of smallholder growers. Farmers can approach AMGG LLC and procure fee based drying and/or storage services to reduce post-harvest losses and improve the quality of their harvest.  This HDS facility is capable of drying 1,000 tons and storing up to 500 tons hazelnut per year.

  • Program Investment of $50,000 – Procurement of 95 hp tractor and 2 t/h capacity hazelnut cleaning machine, procurement of electric pallet stacker, and procurement of safety equipment.
  • AgriGeorgia/Ferrero investment of $ 55,500 – Construction of the HDS Facility.
  • Partner Co-Investment of $234,500 – Procurement of construction materials, construction of 750 square meters building, and procurement of drying equipment. 

 

USAID Yalwa

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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, finance, 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

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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: 

Providing Access to Finance in Nigeria: The Babban Gona Story

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Photo Courtesy of Babban Gona

Although agriculture is the mainstay of Nigeria’s rural economy—and an important contributor to Nigerian economic growth and food security—most of the nation’s “agro- preneurs” still encounter significant difficulties to accessing the financing they need to increase the profitability and sustainability of their businesses. These hurdles have persisted even in the wake of decades of government and donor-funded agricultural development initiatives.

To address this challenge, the USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity supported Babban Gona, a Nigerian agricultural social enterprise, to overcome these hurdles.

The Activity—implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) —helps to broaden agribusinesses’ access to finance and investment by mitigating the risks they face when seeking funding to expand and scale up operations. For Babban Gona, the Activity provided expertise to review the legal articles, financial projections, and contractual agreements to meet the expectations of all parties. As a result, Babban Gona was able to successfully negotiate the offers and conclude agreements with the financiers.

The new funding equated to $18 million for Babban Gona. This was processed in two transactions —an equity investment from KfW Development Bank, based in Germany, and a subsequent debt facility from the Agriculture Financing Initiative (AgriFI).

“It is a true privilege to welcome KfW as a Babban Gona shareholder and board member,” said Adaeze Usoh, Babban Gona’s Corporate Finance Minister. “This partnership would not have been possible without the support of the USAID Agribusiness Investment Activity.”

Babban Gona provides four key services to its farmers, or “outgrowers” — innovative financial services; agricultural input services at competitive prices; training and capacity development to establish strong farmer groups; and access to markets to generate increased profits. Babban Gona will primarily use the new funds gained to add new storage capacity as well as expand the locations and number of the firm’s outgrowers.

“I am impressed with the Babban Gona business model and am confident that the lives and businesses of their smallholder farmer out-growers will greatly improve through the financial and extension support being provided,” said Dr. Adam Saffer, the Activity’s Chief of Party and Managing Director.

Over the next four years, the Activity will continue to support Nigerian producer groups, aggregators, processors, and other services within the agribusiness value chain in gaining access to affordable finance and attracting investment. Saffer also said, “The social and economic potential of the agriculture sector is one of Nigeria’s greatest competitive and comparative advantages, and we aim to help producers, off-takers, and financiers alike realize this through a better mutual understanding of each other’s expectations.”

Additional details of the Activity can be found here

 

Private Sector Activity (PSA)

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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)