Demonstrating New Techniques for Pollinating Pomegranate Flowers

Demonstrating New Techniques for Pollinating Pomegranate Flowers

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Although Azerbaijan has been a major supplier of fruits and vegetables to Russia, Ukraine, and elsewhere in the region since the Soviet era, it is able to export very few agricultural products to modern markets. Due largely to an inability to provide sufficient volumes and consistent quality, most of the country’s fruits and vegetables are not internationally competitive. Azerbaijani pomegranates, however, have the potential to be a notable exception. The country already exports a variety of processed pomegranate products, including narsharab, a traditional Azerbaijani sauce. Unfortunately, farmers selling to processors are price-takers and are paid very little for their produce. Therefore, to help them increase their incomes, the USAID Agricultural Assistance to Azerbaijan Project (ASAP) is working with pomegranate growers to improve quality for both the export and premium domestic markets.

Mr. Eyvaz Samedov, who has a farm in the Goychay region of central Azerbaijan, is a good example of the kind of grower that ASAP is assisting. Around 6-7 years ago, he planted four different pomegranate varieties (of the over 20 grown in the country) on a 60-hectare orchard. Although his trees are in good physical condition, his lack of agronomic knowledge has prevented him from achieving the required production quantities and quality, forcing him to sell his entire harvest last year for the extremely low prices paid by domestic processors. An input dealer who has worked with Samedov in the past and was aware of his difficulties, referred ASAP to him in early 2015.

ASAP began by providing basic growing recommendations that Mr. Samedov committed to implementing on a dedicated three hectares of his orchard in order to compare the results of these new efforts with his existing yields and quality. Then, on ASAP’s recommendation, Samedov purchased a cultivator and chemical sprayer (at a total cost of 9300 AZN), and initiated the application of mineral fertilizers for the first time, buying six tons of triple 16 and four tons of urea (for 3080 AZN).

Besides providing technical assistance in pruning, weed control, irrigation and pest management, ASAP decided to introduce pollination of early pomegranate flowers to the farm. By purchasing bumblebees, placing the hive in the center of the demo plot, and ensuring that the bees were provided with plenty of water, pollination within 200 meters of the hive was facilitated. Pomegranate flowers that are pollinated earlier in the season typically produce larger, higher quality fruit. In the future, ASAP will work with Mr. Samedov on improving his harvesting techniques as well as improving his postharvest handling and storage capacity. With proper implementation, he will be soon able to sell his product to the much more lucrative fresh market, both domestically and to Russia, with the potential to eventually initiate exports to EU countries.

Agrodealer Strengthening Program

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Overview:

CNFA returned to the birthplace of its widely respected agro-dealer model, first developed in Zimbabwe from 2000 to 2005 and since successfully implemented in Kenya, Malawi, Mali, and Tanzania. When CNFA closed out its program in Zimbabwe in 2005, it had built a network of 1,030 trained agro-dealers covering much of the country. The 18-month Agro-dealer Strengthening Program (ASP-Z) aimed to revitalize and create a more robust network of agro-dealers through which improved inputs and technology could flow to rural smallholder farmers, increasing agricultural production and improving rural livelihoods. ASP-Z laid the framework for a vibrant input supply sector, which created jobs, improved livelihoods, and brought food security to thousands of individuals, bolstering rural economies throughout the provinces of Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, and Midlands.

Program Approach:

  1. Provided training in business management, as well as technical training on new crop varieties, production technologies, and the safe use, handling, and storage of fertilizers and crop protection products;
  2. Worked with agro-dealers, input suppliers, and research institutions to stimulate demand for improved inputs and production practices through demonstration plots and farmer field days;
  3. Stimulated investment in agro-dealers and increased rural access to finance through guarantee and matching grants facilities;
  4. Created sustainable agro-dealer associations to advocate for member interests.

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 of the agricultural sector. The Seeds Project, 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 project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), with partners 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.

Program Approach:

  • Advanced the development and implementation of national seed laws and regulations;
  • Created and strengthened private seed enterprises;
  • Provided business management and technical trainings;
  • Produced foundation for certified seed and make available for distribution;
  • Conducted seed variety trials for cereals and vegetables.

Business Management Training: The Agro-dealer Business Training Program built the business capacity of local seed company managers through training on 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.

Agricultural Productivity: The WASA program 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 program made significant impacts on production practices throughout WASA countries. Field days were an effective medium in spreading awareness of improved farming methods. With participants spanning from local farmers and agro-dealers to government officials and major supply companies, the input systems in target countries saw marked improvement.

Seed and Input Supply systems: WASA aimed to develop viable agricultural inputs systems and support the overall growth of the West Africa agricultural sector by creating a sustainable commercial seed industry that provides small-scale farmers with affordable, timely, and reliable access to high quality seeds and planting materials. In cooperation with input supply companies, WASA organized demonstration plots and farmer field days to enhance awareness about new products and technologies.

Technical Training: CNFA worked through input-supply companies and commercial trainers to build capacity on safe usage and handling of products. To complement these trainings, WASA also organized demonstration plots and farmer field days to enhance awareness about new products and technologies. Field demos provided an excellent educational tool to teach both agro-dealers and farmers about new varieties and correct herbicide and fertilizer application.

Output Marketing: WASA linked agro-dealers and farmer producer groups to commodity traders and crop processors to create market pull for farmer production, and assisted seed companies and associations in establishing seed marketing strategies.

Tanzania Agrodealer Strengthening Program

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Overview:

Launched in 2007, the Tanzania Agro-dealer Strengthening Program (TASP), funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, has been successful in building and supporting a vibrant agro-dealer network capable of serving smallholder farmer demands for improved inputs, services, and marketing. Like CNFA’s other agro-dealer development programs, TASP focused on business and technical training as well as capacity building. Programming also focused on facilitating access to financial services, output marketing, processing, value adding services, and policy advocacy through association development.

TASP also designed and supported the Tanzanian government’s targeted subsidy program to link agro-dealers to the local seed industry and has been scaled up to foster the development of a nationwide rural market network. In 2010, TASP expanded into new districts, allowing CNFA to improve productivity and incomes for additional farm households in remote and underserved areas. Since 2007, TASP has certified over 2,600 agro-dealers, who are providing products and services to over 1.5 million smallholder farmers and improving the lives of nearly 8 million people.

Program Approach:

  • Built agro-dealer capacity to better serve farmers through a proven six-part technical training covering: managing working capital, managing stocks, selling and marketing, basic record keeping, costing and pricing, and managing business relationships;
  • Facilitated demand creation by establishing demonstration plots and farmer field days showcasing new agricultural inputs;
  • Promoted improved linkage to financial services for agro-dealers through forums and clinics focusing on licensing, completion of a business plan, and access to capital.

Seed Industry & Smart Input Subsidy Distribution: At the program’s outset, CNFA focused on the five Southern Highlands districts targeted by the Government of Tanzania (GoT) for its smart, targeted subsidy program (Fast Track Districts) and five districts in the Arusha, Meru, and Kilimanjaro regions in Northern Tanzania. In Year 2, TASP expanded into the seven other districts in Manyara and Morogoro regions. Around Arusha, CNFA integrated agro-dealer development efforts with initiatives to improve Tanzania’s local seed industry, including foundation seed enterprises and local seed companies. Early activities focused on the design of a smart input subsidy program for sustainably implementing government subsidies to targeted communities and on developing the network of agro-dealers necessary to implement this subsidy program.

Association Development: CNFA supported seven district associations that were fully registered and ten that were in nascent stages of development. One of the associations supported by CNFA was the Songea Agro-dealer Association (SADA). SADA offers a powerful example of the benefits that a well-run association can accrue for its members and the influence that can be exerted. For example:

  • SADA successfully advocated against the practice of Regional and District officials dictating prices at which inputs could be sold;
  • SADA also proposed the “master input subsidy” concept that CNFA later brought to the MAFC, which would be issued by district officials on presentation of numerous input subsidies by the agro-dealer;
  • Where individual group members (particularly startup agro-dealers) experienced difficulty in securing input supply credit, SADA managed to successfully negotiate for credit as an association;
  • SADA leased an office in Songea Town and hired a coordinator to administer their activities.

Strengthening the Agro-dealer Network: TASP encouraged the establishment of new agro-dealerships in remote, underserved areas through matching grants, a credit guarantee facility, and demand creation activity that gave the farmer an opportunity to physically witness the benefits of improved agronomic practices and inputs. In addition, technical trainings to strengthen agro-dealer capacity, agro-dealer association development, and linking agro-dealers to financial institutions were key parts of the approach.

The Business Management Training (BMT) raised agro-dealers’ business standards of management and acumen, allowing the MAFC to exclusively link the handling of the subsidy inputs to agro-dealers’ successful completion of BMT. CNFA trained an additional 849 agro-dealers in 24 districts beyond the 17 in the original TASP scope to pave the way for the National Agricultural Inputs Voucher Scheme.

South Sudan Cattle Program

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Overview:

The two-year South Sudan Cattle Program (SSCP), funded by the U.S. Department of State (DOS), sought to mitigate local conflicts through the development of a cattle identification and livestock ownership and registration system to reduce both cattle theft and trade of stolen cattle. With over 12 million cattle in South Sudan, the livestock are an important source of rural livelihoods and play a central role in defining social status. Cattle theft is a common occurrence, and stolen animals are a source of meat, milk, and dowry.

Program Approach:

CNFA conducted on-the-ground research to identify the best practices to reduce cattle theft and inter-clan conflicts, with a specific focus on the development of an improved identification method and coupled with a cattle ownership registration program.

A 2012 assessment identified non-radio frequency identification tags as the cheapest, easiest, and most reliable method of identification, where cattle were uniquely numbered and entered into a cloud-based registry designed specifically for SSCP. Through a consultative process and an intensive assessment and design phase, CNFA designed a traceability system that was tailored to the realities of South Sudan, providing the greatest opportunities for sustainable expansion and implementation at a national level.

The CNFA team launched a pilot identification and registration system that enabled individual cattle to be traced for life. Coupled with the identification system, SSCP activities supported the development of a computerized cattle ownership registration center.

Another important factor was the ongoing coordination between the Government of South Sudan (GOSS), especially the Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries (MARF), and Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW) volunteers. Under the two-year pilot project, CNFA worked closely with the MARF to identify and catalog the ownership of over 25,000 livestock, training large teams of CAHWs who carried out the work of tagging and capturing the data for animals and owners.

The overall goal of the project was to tag 150,000 cattle with non-radio frequency ear tags. Unfortunately, SSCP was suspended in April 2014 and then formally closed by the Department of State in September of the same year, due to escalating safety issues as a result of the violence that began in December 2013.

As of last tagging count, 23,232 cattle were tagged and entered into the SSCP database. Over 460 community mobilization meetings were held, helping to inform over 7,220 people about LITS. Many initially-skeptical community members in the targeted regions saw stolen animals returned to their rightful owners, helping spread the concept of adopting cattle tagging practices. Thus far, over 700 community members have tagged their cattle. The ultimate goal of the project was to reduce cattle theft by 25% and preliminary results indicate over a 60% reduction in cattle theft.

Partnership for Economic Growth

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Overview:

The Partnership for Economic Growth (PEG) was a two-and-a-half year project funded by USAID, which supported the Somali people’s goal to improve economic growth and livelihoods in Somaliland and Puntland. Under the leadership of DAI, the program collaborated with the Ministry of Livestock, Ministry of Commerce, and private sector groups to better the envi­ronment for investment and export marketing and generated agricultural-based employment.

The livestock sector in Somaliland faced significant challenges, including increased competition from neighboring nations, trade barriers due to disease control, lack of access to veterinary inputs, and inefficient veteri­nary services. However, a strengthened livestock sector is vital, as 65% of the economy is comprised of livestock-related commerce. In partnership with private and public sector, CNFA contributed its experience targeting all livestock value chains to assist the sector in the following areas:

Program Approach:

  • Capacity building of local veterinary service providers;
  • Improved animal feed and education for fodder farmers;
  • Provided veterinary services;
  • Trained of community animal health workers (CAHW);
  • Strengthened and improved commercial livestock feed supply systems;
  • Strengthened feedlot enterprises;
  • Developed dairy processing facilities, conducted livestock end-market analyses, and provided rural financial services.
  • Livestock Component:The Livestock Component was the largest of the PEG Project, where CNFA advised local non-profit organizations and enterprises that were recipients of capacity building grants and matching grants. These grants were utilized for the creation and implementation of demonstration farms, technical training in improved livestock care, dairy and fodder production techniques, livestock fattening programs, and capacity building of local stakeholders.
  • Matching Grants to Local Enterprises:The CNFA Livestock Component collaborated with four small and medium livestock enterprises under a matching grant component. The goal of the matching grant component was to expand various sub-sectors of the Somali livestock industry through local organizations. PEG matching grant recipients and illustrative activities underwent the following:
    • Al Husseini Farm and An’Aam Farm are Somali feed lot enterprises that received PEG grants and technical training in improved fodder production techniques. An’Aam Farm was created by an association of multiple investors, who collectively contributed more than $1 million in funds to create the farm. Al Husseini Farm operated on a much smaller scale, but both were fully functional feedlots providing animal fattening services to local farmers;
    • Horumar Farm was a model dairy farm, established with PEG support, which specialized in camel milk and fodder production. Horumar Farm received a small matching grant to provide fodder production, dairy production, and dairy processing trainings to increase the quality of milk in the surrounding area. Inspired by the success of Horumar farm, one Somali woman purchased several camels purely to be able to take advantage of the growing market.
    • With PEG capacity building assistance, Togheer Womens Livestock Traders Association initiated a small ruminants buying scheme, which purchased ruminants in rural areas and transported the animals to urban areas – primarily Buroa – or exported them regionally to an area with an increased demand and a higher price. Making only a $3 profit per head, the association applied for a PEG grant to begin a small-scale feedlot. The fattening station increased the weight of the sheep and goats, resulting in a price increase of up to 20% per animal at the end market.
  • Capacity Building of Somali NGOs:Under CNFA leadership, four local non-profit organizations were contracted to implement training programs and develop community-based demonstration farms where training in fodder production (i.e., variety selection, harvesting techniques, hay baling and storage, and mineral supplementation) and animal health (i.e., disease control, drug quality, and use) would be available.

Expanding Regional Access to Micro-finance and Start-up Capital: Kaaba Microfinance Institution (K-MKFI), the only MFI in Somaliland, was able to open a new office in the town of Gabiley through PEG program funds, serving micro-enterprises and the informal markets in Western Somaliland. K-MKFI uses an Islamic-compliant lending methodology, which enables a previously untapped market in rural areas to access finance. The majority of K-MKFI’s micro-finance clients were small-scale livestock producers and traders:

  • PEG contracted AIMS, a local consultancy firm, to complete an end market analysis of the livestock value chain in Somaliland and the larger region (Egypt, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen). This analysis and subsequent PEG knowledge transfer activity highlighted both opportunities and constraints facing the livestock value chain in the region;
  • The Livestock Investment Chapter of the 2013 Somaliland Investment Guide synthesized the findings of PEG’s Livestock End Market Study. The Investment Guide highlighted investment opportunities through a printed edition and website feature, which provides a platform to expand access to investment capital and targets potential diaspora investors.

Agrodealer Strengthening Program

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Overview:

The Agrodealer Strengthening Program, funded by the government of Sierra Leone through the Global Agricultural Food and Security Program, aimed to promote the transformation of the Sierra Leone’s fragmented and informal input distribution system into a more efficient, commercially-viable input supply infrastructure operated by the private sector. As part of an implementing consortium with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), CNFA developed an agrodealer network to provide a one-stop-shop for smallholder farmers to access improved inputs, services and output marketing. The program was implemented in the District of Bombali, and enhanced agricultural productivity, increased rural incomes and improved household food security.

Program Approach:

  • Develop a private network of agrodealers by establishing one-stop-shops;
  • Provide business management and technical training to agrodealers;
  • Build and strengthen private sector associations that supply agricultural inputs;
  • Improve access to finance through a credit guarantee facility and matching grants program;
  • Foster a commercialization enabling environment by advocating for agrodealer involvement in national agricultural sector strategies and implementations.

Improving Livelihoods and Enterprise Development

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Overview:

The Improving Livelihoods and Enterprise Development Program (I-LED) was a three-year initiative to assist 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.

Program Approach:

  • Worked with communities to identify and prioritize needs and provided support for communities to restore livestock and re-establish crop systems;
  • Promoted industries with growth potential by strengthening key subsectors through grants training and technical assistance, which led to increased competitiveness of local Pakistani enterprises;
  • 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 organization;
  • Value-Chain Development & Enterprise Development:I-LED was built upon revitalized agricultural production that introduced sustainable value-adding activities such as milk collection schemes and potato seed storages 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. I-LED sought to generate new employment and income opportunities, improve competitiveness of products and services, and increase access to markets by providing the resources necessary to develop value chains and establish new enterprises;
  • Forage Crops:I-LED supported “Cut and Carry” fodder projects for each of the 176 feedlot grant recipients to improve the availability of green fodder. Recipients participated in trainings on land preparation, seed sowing, and fodder management;
  • Dairy Sector Improvement:The dairy sector strategy was two-fold: increase the production capacity of dairy farms and develop clearly defined milk production zones within close proximity of major regional markets. Trainings were provided on proper animal care to increase the sustainability of impact in the dairy sector;
  • Small Ruminants and Poultry: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;
  • Grants and Training: I-LED eventually transitioned toward economic value-chain and local economic development using enterprise matching grants, value-chain grants, and farm store grants;
  • Support of Women Entrepreneurs:I-LED involved women and men equitably in the community engagement process and women made up 28% of program beneficiaries who received direct training;
  • Community Organization & Association Development: 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;
  • 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 irrigation structures, shops, and public facilities.

Agricultural Input Markets Strengthening Project

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Overview:

The Agro-dealer Strengthening Program, funded by the government of Sierra Leone through the Global Agricultural Food and Security Program, aimed to promote the transformation of Sierra Leone’s fragmented input distribution system into a more efficient, commercially-viable input supply infrastructure operated by the private sector. As part of an implementing consortium with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), CNFA developed an agro-dealer network to provide a one-stop shop for smallholder farmers to access improved inputs, services, and output marketing. The program was implemented in the District of Bombali and enhanced agricultural productivity, increased rural incomes, and improved household food security.

Program Approach:

  1. Developed a private network of agro-dealers by establishing one-stop-shops;
  2. Provided business management and technical training to agro-dealers;
  3. Built and strengthened private sector associations that supply agricultural inputs;
  4. Improved access to finance through a credit guarantee facility and matching grants program;
  5. Fostered a commercialization-enabling environment by advocating for agro-dealer involvement in national agricultural sector strategies and implementations.