Post-Harvest Handling Practices Change Fortunes for Carrot Farmers

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. 

 

Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestle Maize Quality Improvement Partnership

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Overview:

The $1.3 million Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestlé Maize Quality Improvement Partnership (M-QIP) (2017-2020) enhanced the quality and safety of maize and soybeans available to Nestlé’s food processing factories while supporting USAID’s goals of revitalizing Nigeria’s agriculture sector and improving nutrition along these cereal value chains. The partnership utilized a “whole-of-supply-chain” approach to enhance the quality, safety and transparency of the Nestlé supply chain. 

Approach:

  1. Strengthened the Capacity of Smallholder Farmer Suppliers: To catalyze better conduct and performance in the maize and soybean value chains in Kaduna State,M-QIP’s activities focused on the three main stakeholder groups within the supply chains: smallholder farmers, intermediaries and input retailers.
  2. Strengthened Capacity of Local Organizations: With the support of the Nigeria Youth Service Corps program and local extension agents, M-QIP cataloged and mapped the many associations and cooperatives that played a role in improving the yield and product quality of smallholder farmers in the maize and soybean growing regions and along market routes, specifically near Nestlé’s current sourcing areas and storage networks. Through this process, CNFA kick-started and sustained engagement through the M-QIP program with all stakeholders, including Nestlé corporate employees, farmers’ associations, government extension service providers and community leaders.

Partners:

Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth

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Overview:

The five-year (2015-2020), USAID Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth (REGIS-AG) program was designed to increase the incomes of vulnerable households by improving the performance and inclusiveness of the cowpea, poultry and small ruminant value chains. Implemented in Niger and Burkina Faso, the $34.3 million program was one of many operating under USAID’s Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) initiative, supported by a consortium of partners and led by CNFA.

Approach:

  1. Strengthened Resilience to Environmental, Security and Economic Shocks: The program aimed to improve community resistance to shocks by sustainably rehabilitating markets, facilitating village-savings programs and improving access to shared and household assets along three value chains: cowpea, poultry and small ruminants.
  2. Facilitated and Catalyzed Market Systems: REGIS-AG used a “facilitation approach” that aimed to improve the function of markets and create sustainable change without becoming embedded in the system. REGIS-AG also aimed to identify opportunities through value chain and end-market analysis and to strengthen relationships across its value chains.
  3. Strengthened Input SUpply and IMproved Smallholder and Agro-Pastoralist Access to Interconnected Markets:CNFA concentrated on improving delivery of and access to veterinary services and feed provision centers for poultry and small ruminants and strengthening the supply of agricultural inputs for cowpeas with a specific emphasis on Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) bags for improved storage practices.
  4. Increased Access to Finance, Innovation and Private Sector Investments: REGIS-AG worked with private-sector investments to design and market financial products that will expand access to services, particularly for women. It also aimed to improve the enabling environment for local and regional private-sector investment by building trust between value chain actors and increasing their voice at the policy level.
  5. Focused on Gender and Women’s Empowerment REGIS-AG employed a comprehensive approach to engage both men and women in overcoming structural biases and barriers in the three target value chains through education and integration into the formal market economy.

Partners:

  • Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
  • Association Nigérienne pour la Dynamisation des Initiatives Locales (Karkara)
  • Association for Catalyzing Pastoral Development in Niger (AREN),
  • Association Nodde Nooto (A2N)
  • The Association pour la Gestion de l’Environnement et le Développement (AGED).

Establishing Effective Partnerships to Control the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)

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In Georgia, hazelnuts and other crops are under threat by the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). Since 2016, USAID and CNFA have worked together to support the BMSB efforts of the Government of Georgia through the Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Program (REAP), and today continue working together through the USAID Agriculture Program and the Georgia Hazelnut Improvement Project (G-HIP).

 

View video on partnership here.

Leveraging Public-Private Sector Partnerships to Protect Georgian Hazelnut Crop

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In Georgia, CNFA works with Trécé Inc. – a U.S. company based in Oklahoma that produces pheromone traps and lures – and other public and private sector partners through its USAID Agriculture Program and Georgia Hazelnut Improvement Project to help monitor the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) pest which threatens hazelnut and other crops across the country.

 

View video on partnership here.

USAID Agriculture Program Promotes Public-Private Partnerships, Supporting Local Supply Chains

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In collaboration with McDonald’s Georgia, our USAID Agriculture Program is promoting public-private partnerships to empower farmers and improve supply chains in Georgia. The USAID Agriculture Program supports farmers and agribusinesses by assisting the implementation of internationally recognized food safety standards and practices, promoting various agricultural producers and food processors to enhance their operations, and improving the safety and quality of Georgian-produced products contributing to increased demand on local and international markets.

 

View documentary on partnership here.

USAID Yalwa

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Enhancing Markets and Nutrition in Niger

Overview:

The $29.1 million five-year Feed the Future-funded USAID Yalwa (2020-2025) 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 these foods 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: