Cashew Nut Purchasing Network: Improving Incomes and Smallholder Farmer Guarantees

Cashew Nut Purchasing Network: Improving Incomes and Smallholder Farmer Guarantees

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The cashew industry is expanding rapidly in Côte d’Ivoire, one of the world’s top cashew producing countries, however its potential for quality production, processing and domestic and export trade has yet to be fully realized. To help farmers receive a quality-based price increase on cashew sales, Sonata Côte d’Ivoire (CI) formerly known as Huxley Cote d’Ivoire—a company specialized in the processing and export of raw cashew nut (RCN)—is partnering with the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project. Implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), PRO-Cashew aims to increase the incomes of farmers in the West African cashew sector by improving crop quality, supporting value chain linkages between farmers and agribusinesses and strengthening efficiency and quality in production and trade.

As part of the PRO-Cashew Agricultural Extension Grant program to establish stronger supply chain linkages between producers and processors, Sonata CI was selected to receive a three-year $200,000 grant to invest in a Supply Chain Program to offer training on good agricultural practices and post-harvest handling to more than 10,000 cashew producers.

At the start of the 2020/2021 cashew season, PRO-Cashew supported Sonata CI to train 30 Lead Farmers and Sonata CI staff on good agricultural practices. These Lead Farmers then trained an additional 2,581 producers across five regions where the company’s collection centers are located. Supported by PRO-Cashew, Sonata CI also facilitated the organization of cashew producer groups in each locality, establishing a high-quality RCN supply network. By offering competitive prices to farmers and supporting quality production through training, Sonata CI is improving agricultural practices and incomes for cashew producers across Côte d’Ivoire and helping farmers invest their profits back into their production.

Sameer Kohinkar, the procurement manager of Sonata CI.

“The project has given a tremendous boost to the implementation of our procurement strategy,” said Sameer Kohinkar, Procurement Manager of Sonata CI since 2018. “The training of trainers and producers led by PRO-Cashew and the establishment of producer groups in the villages have enabled us to build a reliable network of producers and cooperatives in the major cashew producing regions of Côte d’Ivoire,” he added. “Now, thanks to our purchasing network, in less than two years, we have developed a strong supply system. In return, we pay cash at a price set by the state trade regulation authority, and we offer price-based incentives to encourage farmers to produce good quality nuts, which results in a higher price for the farmer,” Kohinkar explains.

The Sonata CI Supply Chain Program has only been active for a year and a half, but the preliminary results are promising. The volume of cashews purchased directly from farmers by Sonata CI, without intermediaries, increased by 59.9% from 1,614 tons to 2,581 tons from May 2020 to May 2021. Aiming to incentivize quality RCN production, Sonata CI developed an agreement with farmers to increase the minimum price of 305,000 FCFA/MT, approximately $505/MT, set by the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, by 10,000 FCFA/MT or an additional $16. Sonata CI’s higher purchasing price encourages producers to adopt quality production methods. It also improves farmer access to more profitable markets while improving supply chain efficiencies (i.e., developing a dependable and quality RCN supply).

Partners Reap the Benefits from Farmer-to-Farmer and Innovation Lab Collaboration

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When two veteran USAID projects join forces, innovation and capacity building can happen at scale.  Between November 2021 and June 2022, the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) in Southern Africa and Moldova, and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut trained 3,636 farmers in groundnut production and aflatoxin control in Malawi (669), Mozambique (381), Zambia (1,254) and Zimbabwe (1,322). Of the trainees, 2,245 were women and 363 were youth.

This collaboration was built on the strengths of both parties. The F2F program has field offices in each of the four aforementioned countries—which they rely on to connect with large networks of development partners, including USAID Mission-funded projects—as well as the experience to organize trainings. The program recruits local volunteers who are connected with volunteers based in the U.S. to conduct trainings virtually, a newer F2F model that came about as an adaptation to COVID-19.

In contrast, the Peanut Innovation Lab has a deep expertise in groundnuts, an important food and cash crop particularly for women farmers in Southern Africa. It also has an increasing number of training tools available, including its recently launched Groundnut Academy—an online course that is free and easily accessible. The first module, on agronomy, came online in 2021 and the second, on aflatoxin, in 2022.

Conversations between the two organizations rapidly resulted in the development of a plan to achieve the greatest impact: F2F would recruit local volunteers from across Southern Africa who would then take Groundnut Academy courses online and train additional farmers. The initial training was done with technical support from U.S.-based F2F volunteer and Peanut Innovation Lab Deputy Director Jamie Rhoads, who was paired with local volunteers during the question and answer (Q&A) sessions at the Groundnut Academy. The volunteers also worked with Rhoads during the subsequent farmer trainings, which offered participants the opportunity to ask questions and share experiences with Rhoads and the local volunteers.

Collaboration initiated in October 2021 with the Groundnut Academy’s newly published Agronomy course, which focused on the next rainy season expected to start in November-December when farmers could put their learning into practice. From October-November, 18 farmer trainings were conducted in the four countries—eight in Malawi, two in Mozambique, seven in Zambia and one in Zimbabwe—covering all aspects of groundnut production from planting to crop management and harvest.

Groundnut Academy training in the Eastern Province of Zambia.

The enthusiasm expressed by the farmers and local volunteers led to further collaboration when the Aflatoxin course was published in 2022. This time, the trainings were held just before groundnut harvests, so that farmers could learn ways to reduce aflatoxin during the upcoming harvest and storage period. From May-June, an additional 39 trainings were conducted, of which 14 were in Zimbabwe, 10 each in Malawi and Zambia, and five in Mozambique.

Farmers attended the trainings in numbers that went far beyond those expected and were quick to start adopting the practices taught by F2F. In Zimbabwe, F2F partner and field officer for the USAID-funded Fostering Agribusiness for Resilient Markets (FARM) project Rudo Mushangwe stated, “Farmers adopted early ploughing and purchased seed dressing, which they learned about during the trainings. So far, 150 of the farmers from two wards plan to dress their seeds for the first time in their lives.”

While learning to produce more of the important food staple and increasingly important cash crop, farmers also gained an important understanding of aflatoxin mitigation. Leya Lungu, a 34-year-old farmer and training participant from Nyachilala Cooperative in Zambia’s Petauke district in Eastern Province, reflected on the knowledge she gained during the aflatoxin training saying, “One thing I did not know that I learned was the causes of aflatoxin and its long-term effects on human health if consumed. As a family, we always selected the bad groundnuts for consumption and sold the good ones. It is interesting that as producers, we consumed the harmful ones ourselves and sold the good quality groundnuts to people who did not even produce them.”

Chomba Mubanga, 29, a local volunteer and Technical Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture in Chipata District in Zambia’s Eastern Province, echoed the importance of learning about aflatoxin saying, “For me what stood out most was the fact that I got to learn more about the impacts of aflatoxin as I had very little knowledge about it before and did not know that it was toxic. I also learned that aflatoxins are actually odorless and tasteless. This was new to me because each time I ate a groundnut which tasted bitter, I mistakenly associated that with aflatoxins.”

In all, 30 local volunteers took the Groundnut Academy’s agronomy and aflatoxin courses and received certificates recognizing their achievement. Additionally, Jamie Rhoads and the 30 local volunteers were recognized by CNFA’s F2F program as Volunteers of the Year for their dedication to the assignments and their efforts to improve groundnut production and aflatoxin mitigation.

Inonge Simalumba, 33, a local volunteer and Camp Extension Officer at Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture, stated, “I enjoyed the whole process, the training, the Q&A with Jamie Rhoads and the interaction with volunteers from Zambia and Malawi. It showed that the challenges we face with farmers were similar, so sharing our experiences was helpful. With the information we got from the Peanut Innovation Lab, it was also very easy to train farmers. We were confident that whatever issues the farmers would bring up, we would get a response. My biggest take away was that I could access all the materials I needed for future trainings from the Groundnut Academy website.”

Some of the local volunteers even went beyond training farmers on agronomy. For example, Mugove Gora from Zimbabwe helped farmers belonging to the Murwira Association in the Bikita District of Masvingo Province to revive their commodity group which had been abandoned during COVID-19. They were assisted to develop a budget and purchase seeds for the 2022-2023 rainy season. In Zambia’s Eastern Province, local volunteers Chomba Mubanga and Emmanuel Phiri facilitated a linkage between farmers and an agrodealer so that they could access quality inputs on credit. As a result, 64 farmers in Petauke District accessed improved groundnut seeds and fertilizers from Rimbecks Agro Hardware and General Dealers to increase production and improve the quality of their produce.

Additionally, several USAID-funded projects participated in the trainings as partners, particularly in Zimbabwe where the Fostering Agribusiness for Resilient Markets (FARM) project facilitated trainings on aflatoxin mitigation with 14 farmer groups. FARM field officer Harmony Marwa reflected on the importance of the trainings in the Zimbabwean context stating, “Peanut production in the smallholder sector has been on a steady decline as processers have raised concerns about the high aflatoxin levels present in local crops. The training is the first step in reviving this important value chain so that farmers can meet stringent quality requirements. The 14 groups are looking forward to having better quality produce this season.”

Similarly, Rhoads reflected on the Peanut Innovation Lab’s role in the trainings saying, “The Peanut Innovation Lab was excited to find an innovative way to partner with the F2F Program in Southern Africa through the Groundnut Academy. Working directly with the volunteers has been a great way to get immediate feedback on the content of the courses. It also helped us expand the reach of our extension tools like using animations and infographics from . In some cases, we’ve even identified areas of needed research directly from farmers who are looking for answers to challenges we hadn’t considered.”

With the clear benefits to all involved, collaboration between the Southern Africa F2F and the Peanut Innovation Lab will continue during the 2022-2023 rainy season, increasing its scale and impact to farmers along the way.

 

 

 

Building Resilience: Malian Farmers Lead Their Own Development

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Timothy Coulibaly is a maize, millet, and peanut producer in Farakala, Mali. In 2021, when Feed the Future Mali Sugu Yiriwa began to collaborate with his village, Coulibaly was selected to work as a community focal point, helping Sugu Yiriwa provide technical support to local farmers, producers, and entrepreneurs.

So far, Sugu Yiriwa has trained over 200 development leaders like Coulibaly to assist their communities in exchanging agricultural best practices in the Sikasso region. Through their training, these community champions elevate local voices, share knowledge with agricultural stakeholders, ensure that context-specific needs are addressed, and help develop locally-driven solutions.

In June 2022, Sugu Yiriwa hosted a training in Sikasso on conservation, cereal storage, and good sanitation practices for producing and handling dry cereals like millet, sorghum, rice, maize, cowpea, and by-products. The training highlighted the serious consequences that post-harvest losses can have across the grain supply chain, such as increased market prices, fewer livelihood opportunities, and negative health impacts. During this training, Coulibaly was introduced to multifunctional threshing machines and was able to see the equipment in action.

Given the poor capacity of threshing machines in Farakala and surrounding villages, Coulibaly realized that buying an axial thresher would be a great business opportunity that would fill a gap in his area by increasing productivity, revenue, and community resilience.

Reflecting on the machine’s potential, Coulibaly said: “In the past, 30 percent of our harvest was lost due to the lack of machines that could thresh the crops in a timely and efficient way. During the harvest season, producers were obliged to wait their turn for threshing and the results were not ideal. This exposed produce to animals and rain. If the produce was not stored well before threshing, farmers were at the mercy of mold and parasites that, in addition to being vectors of disease, have a negative impact on health and agricultural yields.”

At the end of the training, Coulibaly reached out to Sugu Yiriwa to help him buy a threshing machine for his community. “Sugu Yiriwa put us in touch with SOCAFON, a company based in Niono that manufactures agricultural equipment. Sugu Yiriwa field agents accompanied me throughout the process and helped me get a price reduction. Sugu Yiriwa also helped facilitate access to a loan of 2.5 million FCFA ($3,700), which covered both the purchase price and on-site training with the manufacturer’s technicians.”

Cereal crops are central to agriculture in the Farakala area and the new thresher provides great value-added for farmers, with a capacity of up to two tons of grain per hour. “In a single working day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., we can now thresh ten tons of grain, or 100 bags of 100 kg each,” Coulibaly said. “We provide threshing services for rice, maize, and sorghum farmers, and we have not stopped working since the arrival of the machine. Our work will continue until January, which is the end of the harvest season. I am currently working with my younger brother who is passionate and helps a lot.”

Operating the threshing machine costs between 7,500 FCFA ($11) and 10,000 FCFA ($15) per ton of maize, and between 12,500 FCFA ($19) and 15,000 FCFA ($22) per ton of rice. It operates at higher capacity and lower cost than the only other, old threshing machine in the area. Demand for Coulibaly’s threshing services is unrelenting. With the extra income he is now earning, he plans to repay his loan and buy another machine of the same type.

Sugu Yiriwa not only facilitates the acquisition of agricultural equipment, but also supports producers by offering training and advice to better manage their business and increase their profits. So far this year, two new threshing machines are up and running in Sikasso region thanks to Sugu Yiriwa and there are more to come.

Climate change has drastically reduced crop yields, lowered the nutritional quality of major cereals, and decreased livestock productivity in Sikasso. To cope with these impacts, Sugu Yiriwa promotes climate change adaptation initiatives designed to positively impact agricultural productivity in the grain sector, improve food security, and increase incomes and community resilience. This includes assisting local stakeholders, like Coulibaly, with the tools they need for more efficient harvesting and better storage, resulting in reduced effort and fewer products going to waste.

Improvement of Livestock Vaccination Coverage in Guidan Roumdji Department

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A veterinarian by training, Dr. Issa Nassirou Mamane, operates a private practice that covers the department of Guidan Roumdji in Niger, supporting clients with quality veterinary products and providing daily supervision to his network of livestock managers. With support from USAID through the Feed the Future-funded USAID Yalwa activity, and previously through its predecessor, the USAID Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth (REGIS-AG) program, he ensures the timely distribution of zootechnical and veterinary inputs and products across his community. He also provides quality animal health services to local producers, sensitizes and trains farmers on improved animal production techniques and promotes and popularizes innovative methods and technologies in animal husbandry, helping increase animal production.

While working with the USAID Yalwa activity, Dr. Mamane has taken part in several capacity building exercises, including in areas related to private practice management and taxation. He received support for technical training for his livestock auxiliaries, and has been equipped with small surgical and cold chain equipment to enhance the services his business offers to the community. Dr. Mamane also collaborates with USAID Yalwa on targeted campaigns to raise small ruminant breeders’ awareness on the importance of  livestock vaccination.

Dr. Issa Nassirou, the private veterinarian for the department of Guidan Roumdji, Maradi region, pictured with the Auxiliaires d’Elevage (Livestock Auxiliaries) of the Maradi Region.

With USAID Yalwa support, Dr. Mamane has improved his business management practices, with the implementation of an accounting system that aligns with the Nigerien tax requirements. The business management training Dr. Mamane received from USAID Yalwa has allowed him to grow his business, expanding the number of permanent staff from three employees to 10, and his network of livestock auxiliaries from 30 auxiliaries to 60. He has also hired 30 local women to serve as community vaccinators. At his clinic, Dr. Mamane organized the construction of a training room to both train personnel and use as a conference space for business purposes.

With these improved facilities and resources, and with support from USAID Yalwa, Dr. Mamane has increased the rate of marking of small ruminants in Guidan Roumdji to 98% in 2022, improving livestock vaccination management and reducing waste resulting from the vaccination process like vials, packaging and vaccines. Furthermore, Dr. Mamane has been key to improving the understanding and recognition of the private veterinary services and their activities, such as appearing as a guest on community radio stations. These efforts have directly resulted in more famers trusting veterinary institutions to vaccinate their herds.

Improving Production and Livelihoods through the Manufacture and Sale of Poultry Feed

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Poultry farming is an important part of Burkina Faso’s rural economy. Unfortunately, it faces challenges, including the availability of low-cost feed, which is the most important and expensive input in poultry production. According to poultry producers, feed represents 60% to 75% of poultry production cost. Therefore, the availability of quality feed at affordable prices is essential for production to remain competitive on the market.

To remedy this, the Feed the Future-funded USAID Yidgiri activity trained producers in improved poultry production techniques and in the manufacture of poultry feed using local ingredients. As a result, two members of the Béogoboumbou producer organization (PO) in Kaya, Burkina Faso, who benefited from this training are transforming their knowledge into a source of income for themselves and their PO.

During the training, producers learned that in order to have high output, regular productivity and optimal poultry growth, it is necessary to use balanced feed composed, among other things, of proteins, essential amino acids and minerals, which are found in locally available soya, corn, fish powder and calcined bone. Rasmata Sawadogo and Mouazou Kanazoe, both members of the Béogoboumbou PO, have successfully experimented with this feeding technique as a result of the training offered by USAID Yidgiri in 2021. Sawadogo and Kanazoe admitted that their chickens used to be small since they let them roam around looking for food and sometimes threw them handfuls of millet like so many farmers in the village. “I didn’t know that feeding my chickens a special diet could accelerate their growth, optimize their weight and earn a higher selling price,” says Kanazoe.

After the training and feed experiment the two conducted on their poultry, Sawadogo and Kanazoe trained the 17 members of their PO, including 6 men and 9 women, on these improved poultry production techniques. Now, in order to feed their poultry at a lower cost, the members collectively contribute money for feed production and pay for the necessary ingredients at wholesale prices.

Given the positive effect the feed had on their poultry and the frequent shortage of industrial poultry feed available on the market, the PO also decided to produce and sell their feed. Their products are sold to private individuals as well as to other POs, including Basnéré, Pissila and Kaya, who place group orders. A 50kg bag of poultry feed costs $25 (15,000 CFA) and the PO produces about one ton per month, depending on their orders. The PO puts 50% of profits earned in a fund and shares the remaining 50% with its members. The money in the fund can be borrowed by members who need a small loan to boost their activities.

Kanazoe, a 20-year-old youth member of the PO, says he likes this activity because “per month, I can earn between $16-42 (10,000 to 25,000 CFA). So far, I was able to purchase a bicycle and I am building a house of 20 sheets in the family yard. I dream of being a boss and of having a big poultry feed production company.” Sawadogo, a mother of two, adds that she earns an average of $33 (20,000 CFA) per month, which is additional income that she reinvests either in her chicken coop or on her family.

To help the PO increase its competitiveness and reduce dependence on their neighborhood mill for grinding ingredients, Lassané Kanazoé, the PO’s cluster lead, utilized his network of partners to help the PO access a nearby multi-function mill in December 2021 so that they could efficiently respond to orders. The mill has a grinding capacity of one ton per hour. The Songvensé cluster was formed under USAID Yidgiri’s predecessor, the Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth (REGIS-AG) program, and continues to have members, including the Béogoboumbou PO, take advantage of the mill to produce quality feed and help sell poultry at the right time and at preferential prices. In addition, the PO intends to offer its services to nongovernmental organizations to help their partners access poultry inputs.

Through its work with the Béogoboumbou PO, USAID Yidgiri is demonstrating that with strengthened capacity building, producers can improve their resilience and generate profitable economic opportunities for themselves and their communities.

Gender Action Learning System Approach Builds Stable Homes in Farming Communities

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The Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze activity uses the Gender Action Learning System to support couples to improve their relationships and livelihoods.

Although Rwanda has made tremendous progress in gender equality, low male engagement in domestic chores remains a challenge in many areas. Most affected by this phenomenon are rural communities across the country, including in Nyagisozi cell, Kageyo sector, in Gatsibo district where Illumine Gakuru resides.

Gakuru had been married to Donatien Munyandinda for the last five years, but without her husband’s support, Gakuru struggled to raise their two children and take care of their home garden and household.

Gakuru was not alone. She shared similar difficulties with other women in nearby farming communities, who also faced traditional gender dynamics that limited their equal access to incomes and other productive economic resources.

In 2018, Gakuru and her husband enrolled in a gender empowerment program managed by the Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze activity, an activity funded by USAID and implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA). Hinga Weze works in Gatsibo and nine other districts across Rwanda to sustainably increase farmers’ incomes, improve the nutritional status of women and children and increase the resilience of agriculture to the changing climate.

The new program, known as the Gender Action Learning System (GALS), uses a community-led gender empowerment methodology to addresses gender dynamics and ensure equitable decision-making within the household. GALS also enables couples to take action together and share control over household assets, reshaping income dynamics.

Gakuru and Munyandinda are among the 5,955 couples empowered through GALS to understand and prepare detailed household development plans and achieve a shared vision. As one of the first to attend the GALS program, Gakuru and Munyandinda were introduced to concepts such as participatory visioning and planning to help identify and resolve the issues that were holding them back from developing as a couple. With this approach, they were able to work through issues negatively affecting their communication and their ability to jointly manage household finances.

“Unlike before, we now have a joint bank account,” says Munyandinda. The couple also shares child rearing and household chores and jointly manages their finances and goals. “I always had misunderstandings with my husband because he would sell all our produce and use all the money without consulting me.  But now, we have learned a lot from this new approach and we have a happy home,” observed Gakuru with visible excitement.

Munyandinda has also become a male champion in his community of Kageyo. As a male champion, Munyandinda mobilizes other farmers to engage their spouses and take part in household chores and child-rearing activities.

By empowering 1,863 community-based volunteers, Hinga Weze trained 5,955 couples to develop household activity plans and created 83 male champion networks in ten districts of its operations in Rwanda, reaching 185,126 women. Through GALS, Hinga Weze is enabling more men to view their spouses as partners, not adversaries, with equitable decision-making power.

Poultry Farming Through Care Group Model Transforms Rural Livelihoods

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Through the care group model, farmers have transformed their livelihoods

Nutrition continues to be a major public health concern in Rwanda, with 38% of children under five classified as stunted and 9% of children under five manifesting as underweight (RDHS 2014-2015). One significant contributor to stunting is a lack of dietary diversity among Rwandan children due to a lack of animal-source protein consumption, which can provide a variety of micronutrients that are difficult to obtain in adequate quantities from plant-source foods alone.

Dietary diversity is also a significant challenge in the ten target districts where the Feed the Future Rwandan Hinga Weze activity operates, including in Nyamagabe and Kayonza. To overcome this challenge, Hinga Weze adapted the care group model and mobilized households to join care groups as a conducive space for nutrition-sensitive agricultural education, peer learning, saving and chicken rearing to increase income and the consumption of nutritious foods for women and children.

Since 2018, Hinga Weze has worked with communities to strengthen the capacity of care groups through trainings and coaching, mostly in good agricultural practices, nutrition, food safety, savings, gender and poultry farming. In Kayonza and Nyamagabe districts, Hinga Weze also introduced the Small Livestock Program to improve the intake of animal-sourced foods by increasing the local availability of small livestock, mainly chickens. This, in turn, helped families generate household income to purchase nutritious foods, while increasing access to meat and eggs for consumption.

So far, 46 care groups have received 9,200 chickens through Hinga Weze’s Small Livestock Program. After receiving and rearing their chickens, care group members were able to pay back $400 (400,000 RWF) through a pay-back model and to fund a second chicken production cycle. Care groups have also been able to generate incomes from egg sales, distribute 15 eggs for consumption to each member per month and use organic chicken manure in crop production and home gardens.

“Due to lack of skills and knowledge related to nutrition-sensitive agriculture and nutrition, we were ignorant about what contributed to malnutrition in our area,” says Masengesho, the leader of Imbereheza care group in Kayonza district.

The care group trainings equipped communities with skills on chicken farming, feed formulation and chicken rearing. For example, many care groups were supported to raise one-day old chicks, while some have even become agents for Uzima Chicken, a local chicken supplier. Similarly, Wisigarinyuma care group was able to raise 1000 one-day-old chicks until 35 days and sell 840 chicks to farmers outside of their care group.

Hinga Weze’s Small Livestock Program also provided a full package for supply agents and farmers to care for their chickens, which included vaccines and specialized technical trainings on chicken maintenance, poultry house standards, feeds, transportation, marketing, business development and general health standards for poultry businesses. This made the Small Livestock Program a de-facto business-provider for farmers and a nutritional conduit for households.

In addition to the chickens distributed as part of the Small Livestock Program, Hinga Weze distributed 86,400 chickens to 14,400 households (six chickens per household) across eight districts, which has greatly contributed to improving nutrition and dietary diversity. Through their weekly savings and joint household budgeting, farmers have increased their incomes and improved their livelihoods at the household level.

Hinga Weze is a five-year project funded by the USAID that aims to sustainably improve agricultural productivity, increase smallholder farmers’ incomes and improve the nutritional status of women and children.

Youth Interns Help Farmers Turn Poultry Farming into Business

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Nutrition continues to be a major public health concern in Rwanda, with 38 percent of children under five being classified as stunted and nine percent of children under five manifesting as underweight (RDHS 2014-2015). One significant contributor to stunting is a lack of animal-source food protein consumption, which hinders dietary diversity among Rwandan children. Dietary diversity was also a challenge in the 10 Hinga Weze targeted districts of support including Nyamagabe and Kayonza.

Eggs in Hinga Weze beneficiary dish, supporting increased household income to purchase nutritious foods and increase meat and egg consumption.

To overcome this issue, Hinga Weze adapted the care group model and mobilized household members to join care groups as a conducive space for nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) education, peer learning, saving, and chicken rearing to increase incomes and consumption of nutritious foods for women and children. Animal-sourced foods can provide a variety of micronutrients that are difficult to obtain in adequate quantities from plant source-foods alone. Hinga Weze is committed to contributing to overcome this challenge by increasing small livestock, mainly chicken, available for beneficiaries to increase household income, purchase nutritious foods and increase meat and egg consumption.

To achieve the above, Hinga Weze engaged youth interns to speed up implementation for the activity and work with farmers on how to develop and manage poultry farming. Interns were hired from places where farmers lived so that they would have familiarity and knowledge about the specifics of the area and of farmers’ needs. It also created opportunities for employment and self-reliance for interns to start their own businesses after the end of their ten-month internship period. Over 250 interns have been engaged by Hinga Weze.

Youth interns strengthened the capacities of care groups through different trainings and coaching mostly in good agricultural practices (GAP), nutrition, food safety practices (FSP), from farm to fork, savings, gender, poultry farming and more in Kayonza and Nyamagabe districts, with the aim of achieving Hinga Weze’s objective of nutrition improvement through agriculture. So far, 46 care groups received 9,200 chickens. After receiving chickens, care groups experienced success with the program and members were able to pay back $400 (RWF

Chicken manure and feeds applied to a home garden done with Hinga Weze support by care groups.

400,000) through a pay-back model. “Most of us did not even know that we were supposed to eat better or about nutritious meals due to a lack of skills and knowledge related to nutrition-sensitive agriculture and nutrition. We were ignorant, which contributed to malnutrition in our area,” says Masengesho, the leader of Imbereheza care group in Kayonza district, Ruramira sector, Ruyonza in Taba village. “Our lives have now been changed and improved. We are getting sufficient and balanced diets but also investing in the poultry business as a care group to provide services to our neighbors.”

Hinga Weze has since given 203,271 chickens in 10 districts to 27,522 households, which has greatly contributed to improved household nutrition. The poultry program has also thrived for farmers supported by youth interns attached to care groups, who have instituted weekly savings and taught joint household budgeting to farmers, an undertaking that has strengthened poultry businesses, increased incomes and improved livelihoods at the household level.

 

 

Sugu Yiriwa

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Overview

The five-year Feed the Future Mali Sugu Yiriwa activity (2021-2026) aims to strengthen market systems, sustainably improve household incomes and improve the nutritional status of women and children in Mali. Sugu Yiriwa, prosperous markets in Bambara, will empower actors across the market system to affect sustainable, systemic change, with a strategic focus on vulnerable and gender- and nutrition-sensitive value chains in 46 communes in the Sikasso sub-zone.

Program Approach

Sugu Yiriwa will engage and strengthen market actors to achieve results across three mutually reinforcing objectives:

  1. Enhanced Market Access and Business Linkages: Sugu Yiriwa will multiply business linkages to facilitate development of markets that are more inclusive, dynamic and functional. Building the capacity of market actors will increase market preparedness and ensure producer organizations can meet quality and quantity buyer requirements.
  2. Improved Access to and Use of Quality and Affordable Inputs and Services: Sugu Yiriwa will work at the input supply system-level to reduce costs, improve quality, increase access and raise awareness among producers on the effective and efficient use of inputs and agricultural services at the farm and firm levels. Sugu Yiriwa will also build the capacity of agrodealers to promote enhanced technologies for improved access to information related to weather and prices. It will also promote improved labor-saving technologies to improve post-harvest management techniques and support the establishment of input retailer networks.
  3. Increased Market Demand for Consumption of Nutritious and Safe Foods: Sugu Yiriwa will conduct a nutrition and market pathways assessment to understand the factors that drive consumer food choices and diets in the Sugu Yiriwa zone of influence (ZOI). With these results, it will identify opportunities at the market and household levels to fill nutrient gaps by improving the availability, affordability, desirability and consumption of safe and nutritious foods, especially among pregnant and lactating women and children under two.

Partners

  • Mali Agricultural Market Trust (MALIMARK): a Malian nongovernmental organization established in 2010 with the support of CNFA under the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)-funded Agrodealer Strengthening Program. A leader in strengthening agricultural input and service systems in Mali, and with a presence in the Sikasso sub-zone, MALIMARK will design strategies and lead implementation under Objective 2: Improved Access to and Use of Quality and Affordable Inputs and Services, facilitating the development of a more dynamic input and service sector by building the capacity of agrodealers, increasing market linkages, and improving marketing of inputs, technologies, and services.
  • Helen Keller International (HKI): leverages its 20 years of experience in Mali building local capacity to prevent malnutrition by promoting resilience of market actors and vulnerable groups through social and behavior change (SBC) interventions. HKI, which also partners with CNFA on USAID Yalwa, implemented in Niger, will lead Objective 3: Increased Market Demand for Consumption of Nutritious and Safe Foods.