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

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

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

Sharing Agricultural Best Practices: Extracting and Preparing Seedlings for Sale

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

 

Reducing Post-Harvest Losses for Persons with Disabilities in Rwanda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small-Scale Irrigation Technology Transforms Farmer Livelihoods In Rwanda

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Farmers get better yields from improved access to irrigation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Approved Policy Opens Opportunity for Agri-business Transformation in Delta State

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Agriculture is the mainstay of Nigeria’s rural economy, but the sector still faces a myriad of challenges. The sector struggles with a lack of proper legislation and weak enabling environment for agribusiness, limited access to appropriate financing options, poor commodity value chain networks, climate change and the environmental consequences of industrial activities, particularly in the oil-rich Niger Delta. These obstacles have persisted even in the wake of decades of government and donor-funded agricultural development initiatives.

To provide a sustainable solution to these persistent challenges and diversify the economy away from its reliance on extractive industry the USAID funded Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), together with the Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project (NAPP), supported the Delta State Government to develop this new Agricultural Policy.

The State Executive Council (SEC) approved the Delta State Agricultural Policy on January 29, 2021. The Activity provided technical support through the entire process of policy design, convened inclusive stakeholder engagements, and facilitated its approval by the SEC through the Delta State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The new Delta State Agricultural Policy will support agricultural productivity, improve agribusiness performance, and raise enterprise value of the agricultural sector by developing commodity value chains, improving access to quality inputs, finance and investments, storage facilities, and new markets.

“With the approval of this Policy, we believe that Delta State has now moved a step closer to its food quality, safety and security goals by creating a platform on which to build mutual understanding and trust between agribusinesses, financial institutions, and government entities,” said Dominic Graham, the Activity’s Managing Director and Chief of Party.

“The Activity will continue to support the Nigerian Government, MSMEs, producer groups, aggregators, processors, and other service providers in our focal agribusiness value chains as they operate in a more conducive regulatory, finance, and investment climate,” he concluded.

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, 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, 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, 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).