Business Connections Program

Business Connections Program

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Overview:

The two-year, $471,675 Business Connections Program (2011-2013), funded by USAID and the Government of Kazakhstan (GOKZ),  built the capacity and competitiveness of Kazakhstani small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through modernization and expansion initiatives. The program was aligned with the GOKZ’s broader national development plan to diversify the economy through the development of Kazakhstani SMEs. The Business Connections Program also supported the objectives of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the JSC Entrepreneurship Fund (DAMU). CNFA helped identify expert agriculture trainers, plans and volunteer experts and helped create agriculture-related training materials to meet the program’s objectives.

Approach:

  1. Provided Business Management Trainings: Identified qualified U.S. agricultural business experts to develop training curriculums and deliver business management courses to Kazakhstani participants.
  2. Organized Study Tours: Led selection process of study tour participants chosen to represent Kazakhstani companies in targets industry sectors and facilitated three-week-long study tours which included industry-specific training, business meetings with U.S. companies, roundtable seminars and trade shows.
  3. Strengthened Access to Information and Learning: Redesigned the DAMU business portal to encourage information sharing and distance learning among participants.

Farmer-to-Farmer: Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia

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Overview:

The five-year, $7.4 million John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, funded through USAID, focused on select agricultural value chains, identifying needs at every level from production to marketing.

From 2008 to 2013, CNFA sent more than 340 volunteers focusing on fruits and vegetables, dairy and livestock value chains to Belarus, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Approach:

CNFA relied on the expertise of U.S. volunteers from diverse backgrounds to respond to the needs of host country farmers and organizations. Volunteers were deeply experienced in their fields and represented all ages and industries as farmers, bankers, professors, civil servants and active and retired business people.

The assignments, ranging from two-to-four-week long projects, varied in scope, from training associated service providers and agribusinesses in financial management to marketing, cooperative development, agricultural production, post-harvest and processing technologies, international quality standards and rural finance.

Farmer-to-Farmer: East Africa

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Overview:

The five-year, $7.4 million John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer program in East Africa, funded through USAID, focused on select agricultural value chains, identifying needs at every level from production to marketing.

From 2008 to 2013, CNFA sent over 320 volunteers to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and a limited number of volunteers to Rwanda. The hard work put forth by volunteers and field staff made the program a success.

Approach:

CNFA relied heavily on the expertise of U.S. volunteers from diverse backgrounds to respond to the needs of host country farmers and organizations. Our volunteers possessed deep expertise in their fields and represented all ages and industries, including farmers, bankers, professors, civil servants and active and retired business people.

The assignments, ranging from two to four-week-long projects and varied in scope, trained associated service providers and agribusinesses in topics from financial management to marketing, cooperative development, agricultural production, post-harvest and processing technologies, international quality standards and rural finance.

Zaytun

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Overview:

CNFA implemented the two-year (2011-2013), $3.2 million Zaytun Project to strengthen strategic components of the table olive and olive oil value chains in the regions of Nubaria and Matrouh through the delivery of targeted technical assistance to small and medium Egyptian olive processors and training with complimentary grants-matching assistance to smallholder olive farmers.

Working with local partners like the Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI) and the Egyptian Olive Council, the Zaytun Project addressed short-term problems that olive producers and processors face, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for long-term sustainable development. In collaboration with these partners, CNFA designed a strong, value-chain-based program that strengthened production and post-harvest practices of olive farmers, delivered technical assistance and training to small and medium-sized table olive oil and olive oil processors and facilitated business linkages between supported olive growers’ associations and processors. Through various policy initiatives, the Zaytun Project increased expansion into higher-value export markets and improved the reputation and image of the Egyptian olive industry.

The Zaytun Project brought Egyptian olive oil to the international stage. In collaboration with the Chamber of Food Industry, the Project developed an olive industry website to increase the exposure of the Egyptian olive sector. The success of project-sponsored processors at an international olive oil competition marked an important step in establishing the reputation of Egyptian olive oil internationally, as well as introducing a new identity of Egyptian olive oil on the international market. After this success in 2013, it is likely new categories will be created for North African olive oils in next year’s competition.

Approach:

  1. Strengthened Producers: The Zaytun Project strengthened smallholder olive producers through assistance in production practices, post-harvest handling and organized producers into viable growers associations. The project orchestrates intensive training, technical assistance, association development and study tour activities to educate olive producers on best practice techniques. The core training activity was a Farm Field School (FFS) training program, where a tired design allowed the lessons of a few technical specialists to reach thousands of police farmers. The Project compiled a manual in Arabic and English to ensure these experts could carry lessons into future training programs. Additionally, the Zaytun Project awarded four one-to-one grants to farmers’ associations that resulted in the creation and upgrade of several micro-processing units for pickling olives, as well as the funding for two composting projects. Finally, the Zaytun Project facilitated a study tour in Italy to further strengthen farm management and collective marketing of olives.
  2. Strengthened Processors: After an intensive selection phase, the Zaytun Projects strengthened olive processors through technical assistance to improve quality and engaged in value addition that led to increased exports, profits and employment. The project chose 15 processor companies to participate in a series of technical assistance, training and trade show activities. Two international experts served as consultants for these processors and directly addressed the individual obstacles facing each business. An additional marketing consultant was hired to assess production and marketing of olive oil products, provide marketing advice and collect oil samples for entrance into an international competition. The Zaytun Project compiled a manual to ensure the advice of the consultants could be preserved and easily distributed. A supplementary training session on agro-finance was organized with four Egyptian banks that resulted in the creation of the first working capital loan projects for the olive sector in the country. Through targeted training and technical assistance, the Zaytun Project fortified the techniques and opportunities of Egyptian olive processing companies.
  3. Strengthening Market Linkages: The Zaytun Project facilitated producer-processor linkages through the creation of direct relationships, resulting in an improved olive supply, strengthened commercial relations and increased sales and incomes for producers and processors. The Project also hosted a total of four market linkage workshops to bring together olive producers and processors. CNFA worked directly with producer and processor representatives with the objective of facilitating business linkages between Egyptian olive farmers and processors.

 

West Africa Seed Alliance

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Overview:

Access to inputs, such as improved seed varieties, fertilizer and crop protection products are imperative to the transformation the agricultural sector. The Seeds Project (2007-2021), part of the West Africa Seed Alliance (WASA), was created to transform West African agriculture from subsistence farming to profitable, self-sustaining and competitive commercial agriculture.

CNFA-implemented the five-year, $6.1 million project funded by USAID and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and Iowa State University. The project sought to modernize seed distribution systems, facilitate smallholder farmer access to improved seed varieties, improve seed production technologies and strengthen links to credit and markets. The Seeds Project strengthened West Africa’s seed system across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Senegal.

Approach:

Through the Seeds Project, WASA advanced the development and implementation of national seed laws and regulations, created and strengthened private seed enterprises, provided business management and technical trainings, produced a foundation for certified seed available for distribution and conducted seed variety trials for cereals and vegetables through the following approach:

  1. Provided Business Management and Technical Trainings: The project’s Agrodealer Business Training Program built the business capacity of local seed company managers through training in business planning, supply chain management and marketing. The six-module training model included: managing working capital, managing stocks, costing and pricing, selling and marketing, record keeping and managing business relationships.
  2. Increased Agricultural Productivity: WASA worked with local institutions to build agricultural potential in specific focus areas. Bringing improved access to input supplies, availability of technology and technology transfer to farmers and increased access to credit for rural smallholders, the alliance had a significant impact on production practices throughout WASA countries. Field days were an effective medium in spreading awareness of improved farming methods. With participants spanning from local agrodealers to government officials and major supply companies, the input systems in target countries saw marked improvement.
  3. Created and Strengthened Private Seed Enterprises: WASA developed viable agricultural inputs systems and supported the overall growth of the West African agricultural sector by creating a sustainable commercial seed industry that provided small-scale farmers with affordable, timely and reliable access to high-input quality seeds and planting materials. In cooperation with input supplies, WASA organized demonstration plots and farmer field days to enhance awareness about new products and technologies.
  4. Improved Technical Training of Seed Enterprises: CNFA worked through input-supply companies and commercial trainers to build capacity for the safe usage and handling of products. WASA field demonstrations also provided an excellent educational tool to teach both agrodealers and farmers about new varieties and correct herbicide and fertilizer application.
  5. Improved Seed Output Marketing: WASA linked agrodealers and farmer producer groups to commodity traders and crop processors to create market pull for farmer production. It also assisted seed companies and associations in establishing seed marketing strategies.

Commercial Strengthening of Smallholder Cocoa Production

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Overview:

Launched in 2009, the three-year, $2.9 million Commercial Strengthening of Smallholder Cocoa Production (CSSCPP), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2009-2012), aimed to stimulate capital investment and enhance the lives of farmers in the Ghanaian cocoa business. CSSCPP promoted improved production techniques and increased access to inputs, finance and crop diversification. Through the use of strategically designed matching grants, the project also leveraged $5.8 million in private investment.

CNFA, in collaboration with the National Cocoa Producer Association, Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union and Chemico Limited, provided support to cocoa farmers through training, certification programs, land tenure and association development.

Approach:

  1. Improved Association Development: To promote more convenient access to inputs, training, finance and collective marketing, CNFA supported farmers in organizing into groups, clusters and associations, allowing for better service of the maximum number of farmers through project activities to give farmers easy access (within six kilometers) to products and services.
  2. Developed Integrated Warehouse: CNFA collaborated with agro-input suppliers and farmer associations to build model pilot mini-warehouses to serve cocoa producers. Each mini-warehouse had two separate areas: a cocoa buying and certification area operated by local buying companies, and a room for the producers to use for association meetings, trainings and other events. A small, independent agro-dealer shop selling agro-inputs (seeds, fertilizers and crop protection chemicals) was typically located nearby. By offering inputs for many crops rather than just cocoa, these agrodealers encouraged crop diversification.
  3. Improved Technical Capacity and Certification: Farmers and agro-dealers received technical training on cocoa production. In addition, demonstration plots and farmer field days organized with input suppliers encouraged crop diversification and improved cocoa production practices. After determining the cost-benefit tradeoffs of various certification schemes, the project provided information and training for farmers who chose to secure internationally recognized certifications like Fair Trade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance. As a result of project training and certification services, beneficiary farmers’ yields increased by 189% and incomes increased by 309%.
  4. Stimulated Capital Investment: CNFA conducted an extensive study of land tenure issues as they impact the cocoa industry, focusing on the impact on the very small-scale producers, women and sharecroppers. In addition, CNFA piloted land-titling training for landowners and worked with financial institutions to pilot new credit and crop insurance to mitigate farmer risk.

 

Access to Mechanization Project

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Overview

Through the three-year (2009-2012), $5.1 million USAID-funded Access to Mechanization Project (AMP), CNFA used a commercially sustainable and market-oriented methodology to develop machinery service providers across Georgia. Building on CNFA’s existing nationwide presence, AMP combined matching investments, commercial finance and technical training to establish Machinery Service Centers (MSCs) and provide custom machinery services to small farmers.

Approach

  1. Provided Volunteer Technical Assistance: Utilized local consultants and F2F volunteers to provide technical assistance to ensure sustainable operation and long-term availability of services.
  2. Improved Competitive Environment for Machinery Services: AMP improved the competitive environment for machinery services by reducing the cost to farmers as a result of increased supply of machinery and service businesses.
  3. Improved Access to Finance: Leveraged grant funds with local partner matching investment, including large-scale involvement of commercial finance to maximize impact and investment in rural economy.

Ongoing support from CNFA Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteers was an integral part of implementing AMP. A total of 25 volunteer assignments, focused primarily on conducting various types of trainings, were completed during the project. Through F2F, AMP:

  1. Business Management Training Sessions: F2F volunteers conducted a wide array of trainings on business management. With the assistance of the AMP Training Coordinator, volunteers selected local trainers, finalized business and extension training topics and developed standardized training materials for dissemination.
  2. Financial and Credit Trainings: F2F volunteers led basic financial trainings for AMP’s farmers on credit lending, record keeping and risk assessment, which were especially useful for farmer clients looking to better understand their budgets and recognize when they could rent equipment from MSCs.
  3. Environment Trainings: AMP organized volunteer-led trainings focused on environmentally friendly agricultural practices for MSC owners and trainers of a local extension training provider consortium. Training was conducted on irrigation and drainage systems, pest and disease control, technologies of land cultivation and agricultural mechanization.
  4. Marketing and Communications Support: AMP fielded volunteers to help develop communications and marketing strategies for MSC owners, demonstrating the services they could offer. Additionally, volunteers worked with the Georgian Public Broadcaster to design the format of the Agricultural TV show “Farmer’s Day” and create a full-scale business plan to facilitate the funding of the show.

Improving Livelihoods and Enterprise Development

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Overview:

The $31.2 million Improving Livelihoods and Enterprise Development Program (I-LED) (2006-2010) assisted communities affected by the October 2005 Kashmir earthquake. I-LED focused on generating increased incomes, employment and an improved asset base for the earthquake-affected populations in the Siran and Kaghan Valleys in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Bagh District in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK). The Livelihoods component, completed in 2008, delivered replacements of key farming systems, capacity building and reconstruction of affected infrastructure. Complementing these efforts, I-LED developed agricultural and tourism value chains that resulted in the creation and support of 3,082 new and existing enterprises that provided full-time equivalent employment to more than 4,914 individuals by the project’s conclusion.

Approach:

I-LED worked with communities to identify and prioritize needs and provided support for communities to restore livestock and re-establish crop systems. It promoted industries with growth potential by strengthening key subsectors through grants training and technical assistance, which led to increased competitiveness of local Pakistani enterprises. It also engaged community groups and government stakeholders to facilitate stronger public-private partnerships, supported a positive role for government in enterprise development and helped producers and processors improve economic opportunities through formal organizations.

  1. Value Chain and Enterprise Development: I-LED was built upon revitalized agricultural production that introduced sustainable value-adding activities such as milk collection schemes and potato seed storage that created market and employment opportunities for farmers. By organizing producers and processors into clusters and associations, CNFA increased opportunities for collective marketing and purchasing as well as group advocacy. By the end of the program, I-LED generated new employment and income opportunities, improved competitiveness of products and services and increased access to markets by providing the resources necessary to develop value chains and establish new enterprises.
  2. Enhance Forage Crops: I-LED supported “Cut and Carry” fodder projects for each of the176 feedlot grant recipients to improve the availability of green fodder. Recipients participated in trainings on land preparation, seed sowing and fodder management.
  3. Improved Dairy Sector: I-LED’s dairy sector strategy was two-fold: to increase the production capacity of dairy farms and to develop clearly defined milk production zones in close proximity to major regional markets. Trainings were provided on proper animal care to increase the sustainable impact on the dairy sector.
  4. Supported Small Ruminant and Poultry Producers: CNFA designed and conducted numerous training activities for farmers and associations. I-LED awarded livelihoods and enterprise grants to restore livestock populations and improve the production capacity and quality of animal products.
  5. Provided Grants and Training: I-LED helped transition communities toward economic value-chain and local economic development using enterprise matching grants, value-chain grants and farm store grants.
  6. Supported Women Entrepreneurs: I-LED involved women and men equitably in the community engagement process with women making up 28% of program beneficiaries to receive direct training.
  7. Developed Community Organization and Associations: The Local Economic Development component focused on strengthening clusters and associations by promoting teamwork, enhancing local decision making and maximizing usage of local resources. I-LED established linkages between local banks, enterprises and associations to provide better access to loans and business services for entrepreneurs.
  8. Improved Community Physical Infrastructure (CPI): To facilitate the transition from relief to economic development, I-LED restored and reconstructed numerous physical structures vital to local communities such as mitigation structures, shops and public facilities.

Agribusiness Development Activity

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Overview:

CNFA implemented the four-year (2006-2010), $20 million Agribusiness Development Activity (ADA), funded under the Millennium Challenge Georgia Fund (MCG) as part of the Compact between the Government of Georgia and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), to catalyze local matching investments from Georgian partner enterprises and farmers. Through matching grants, farmers received access to innovative agricultural production technology, inputs, quality control practices and output marketing as well as stronger market linkages and reliable sources of inputs and methods to market higher-value products.

Approach:

  1. Supported Local Enterprise Development: ADA awarded resources to groups of farmers and enterprises applying innovative business solutions and technology to boost household incomes and net revenues. Applications submitted included a business plan built for domestic market demand.
  2. Facilitated Improvements to Agricultural Value Chains: Value chain improvements were accomplished through technical assistance via long- and short-term consultants and volunteers, formal and informal training and access to grants and capital mobilization proposed by bidders responding to ADA’s request. The Value Chain Initiative built strategic commercial linkages between producers, processors and markets in promising Georgian agricultural sectors, including dairy, meat and poultry products, fruits, citrus, nuts, vegetables and potatoes.
  3. Conducted Rural Outreach: ADA launched a mass media campaign to empower Georgians to make better choices about their business environment and families through access to information.