Sharing Agricultural Best Practices: Rootstalks and Grafting with Mother Plants

Sharing Agricultural Best Practices: Rootstalks and Grafting with Mother Plants

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The USAID Agriculture Program in Georgia demonstrates best practices for handing rootstocks and grafting with mother plants.

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 Farmers’ Lives 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, smallholder farmers like Beata Mukanyirigira depend on reliable access to water and irrigation to improve their livelihoods and increase their yields and productivity.

To confront this challenge, farmers in four districts, Bugesera, Ngoma, Kayonza, and Gatsibo, partnered with the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), local authorities and 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), to introduce small-scale irrigation technologies (SSIT) in their communities.

These technologies are affordable, appropriate and adaptable to the irrigation needs of smallholder farmers. The system is also powered by solar energy, allowing farmers to eliminate their reliance on diesel and reduce their environmental footprint. So far, nine sites have been completed, covering 100 ha, while two sites covering an addition 100 ha are under development. In total, 300 ha are targeted to be covered through the life of the project, benefitting thousands of farmers by significantly increasing productivity, improving incomes and livelihoods and ensuring food security and nutrition.

Once Hinga Weze and local authorities identify the irrigation sites, farmers are mobilized to consolidate land and form groups and cooperatives. To date, over 10 cooperatives and savings groups have been formed, enabling private sector partnerships from lending institutions, buyers, traders and agrodealers. These partners continue to supply agricultural inputs, to access agricultural inputs and markets. They also reinforce existing community-cohesion and offer employment opportunities and enhanced capacity strengthening interventions for farmers who work on consolidated farms.

Through the SSIT intervention, farmers have gained the knowledge and capacity to manage irrigation infrastructure and ensure the sustainability of their farms and livelihoods. All interventions are farmer-led and have resulted in the additional rollout of good agriculture practices (GAPs), which have greatly improved crop productivity and incomes.

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 the 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.

Pakistan Agricultural Technology Transfer Activity

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Overview: 

Because improved technologies that are affordable, impactful and safe have not yet penetrated much of the smallholder market in Pakistan, producers continue to use outdated and less effective technologies, leading to stagnant or dwindling productivity and returns. This is particularly the case in the horticulture and livestock sub-sectors. To combat these challenges, the $8.2 million Pakistan Agricultural Technology Transfer Activity (PATTA) funded through USAID worked since April 2017 to increase smallholder farmers’ access to markets and their overall development impact cost-effectiveness. By building on CNFA’s 10-year history of successful implementation in Pakistan, PATTA galvanized ongoing private-sector investment to commercialize the types of agricultural technologies that enable smallholders to increase their incomes, create jobs and enhance economic growth and stability. These technologies included seeds, fertilizers, water pumps, improved plant and animal breeds, precision agriculture and integrated soil fertility management, among others.

Approach:

CNFA collaborated with and built upon previous investments by USAID and similar development programs to improve the lives of smallholder farmers through the following three-pillared approach:

  1. Enabled Agricultural Technology-related Businesses to Expand, Adapt and Market their Products and Services to Meet Smallholder Farmers’ Needs: PATTA undertook initial and ongoing market and cost-benefit analyses of available agricultural technologies and facilitated outreach to key stakeholders based on the findings of these analyses. The Activity also oversaw a competitive process that led to detailed memorandums of understanding and comprehensive technical support and capacity building. In doing so, PATTA made the business case for sustained private-sector investments in technology transfer, adaptations, outreach and marketing such that profitable, inclusive output marketing opportunities for smallholders over the long term could be identified.
  2. Increased Smallholder Farmers’ Access to Affordable, Appropriate and Effective Agricultural Technologies: Sustained increased access to improves technologies adapted to smallholder needs required focused, strategic efforts by demand-side stakeholders who stood to profit from this outcome. These stakeholders included technology retailers like agrodealers and arthis– Pakistani agricultural agents who act as middlemen buying and selling inputs on commission and often making loans to smallholders– as well as microfinance institutions and banks that profit when they provide more loans and financial services to expanding agribusinesses and farmers’ associations. PATTA’s holistic approach of capacity-building technical support complemented the new marketing and outreach plans of technology companies and inspired sustained investments in the vast smallholder market.
  3. Scaled the Adoption and Use of Agricultural Technologies: PATTA supported the collective work of supply-and-demand side partners to launch and sustain demonstration activities that provided evidence of the value of improved technologies. These included the promotion of activities with a proven record of success, such as field days, demonstration plots and peer-to-peer education by champion farmers. Such demonstration activities leveraged various mediums, including radio broadcasts, video and mobile exhibits that reached women in purdah and other underserved groups.

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 activity 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.