Amalima Begins Much Anticipated Formative Research in Zimbabwe

Amalima Begins Much Anticipated Formative Research in Zimbabwe

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Improving dietary diversity and quality of foods consumed by the entire Zimbabwean household was the driving force behind the collaborative baseline study conducted recently by Amalima, a USAID-supported program managed by CNFA. The Amalima program promotes the adoption of new practices in agriculture, disaster preparedness and infant and young child feeding to improve nutrition in over 66,000 households in Tsholotsho of Matebeleland North and Gwanda, Bulilima and Mangwe of Matebeleland South.

An analysis of nutrition in the region led to the conclusion that nutrition problems are a result of household feeding practices and behaviors, rather than a direct result of food shortages. As such, rather than offering prescribed solutions and recommended practices, the formative research will seek to better inform what motivates the individual behaviors, interests, attributes and particular needs of the communities the program will be serving over the next five years.

Preliminary tests and research allowed the Amalima team to capture baseline information on everything from what crop varieties are grown in the region, what assets are desired by the community and the level of household nutrition. These results, along with lessons learned, will be used to inform a broader survey that will drive program activates moving forward.

USAID Empowers Self-Employed Women to Become Entrepreneurs

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Five years ago, Hajira Beyene, and her family of 12 became beneficiaries of the Ethiopian government’s safety net program – an initiative that supports the poorest of the poor in food insecure districts of the country to help them meet their basic needs and become self-sufficient – in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). For 38-year-old Hajira, who is the head of her family, the 750 birr she received a month from the safety net program, along with food rations, was helpful, but far from enough.

Hajira knew she had to take matters into her own hands to ensure that her family would survive and escape poverty. She decided to start rearing and selling goats, by using one female goat that she received from a charitable organization known as Goal, and selling seasonal vegetables, which she planted in her yard when the rains allowed. Despite her efforts, lack of technical and business skills hamstrung Hajira’s efforts and left her without fair return, keeping her family reliant on the safety net program.

Hajira is one of the 63 women from the Amhara, SNNP and Tigray regions who received a four-month training on business management and leadership skills organized by USAID’s Agricultural Growth Program-Livestock Market Development (AGP-LMD) project from February to May 2015. The training taught the women how to become successful business operators by offering training in resource management, as well as improving their participation in the leadership and decision-making process of their businesses.

 

“The knowledge I gained from the training has entered my bones, not just my head,” Hajira siad.

 

The training has given her the confidence to take immediate action in purchasing one more goat for rearing by better managing some cash she had. “I purchased a new goat for 650 birr. She is expecting and will be giving birth in two months’ time, and the twin from the old goat will be ready for sale in a few months. Unlike before, I plan to sell them at a better price, and save the income from one of the goats’ sales, so that I can plan to build a better barn for the expansion,” said Hajira who mentioned lack of capital, as her main challenge.
According to Hajira before the training she never considered borrowing from the savings and credit association in her village for fear of not being able to pay back the money “Every 15 days, I contribute five birr to the association. If I borrow money, I need to pay it back within three months together with the interest based on the borrowed amount. My fear of doing so was always based on not having the source to pay back,” explained Hajira, who thinks that the training has now given her the self-confidence to overcome this difficulty as she will practice better financial management thanks to the knowledge she gained from the training.

As the safety net program of the government is set to terminate this year with a probability of being replaced with a different program, this training by USAID is a timely contribution to support Hajira’s transformation, and that of other women, into self-reliance. “There was a time when my first born had to drop out of school after he reached the ninth grade, because I couldn’t put him a school uniform. Although he is a year behind his class mates, I was able to work hard and send him back to school,” Hajira, who herself dropped out of school from the sixth grade as a result of unwanted marriage, said. She is firm in wanting to invest more in her children’s education, including her nine-year-old grandchild who is in the first grade, and whom she supports after he lost both of his parents at an early age.

Promoting School Milk Days in Ethiopia

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The USAID-supported Agricultural Growth Program – Livestock Market Development (AGP-LMD) kicked off a series of events known as “School Milk Days” aimed to increase the awareness and knowledge of school age children, parents and teachers about milk in Ethiopia. The project organized these events as part of a campaign to stress the nutrition and benefits of milk to normal growth and development.

 

Watch this short video to learn more about this activity.

Improving Livelihoods and Nutrition through Dairy Production

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USAID’s Agricultural Growth Program – Livestock Market Development (AGP-LMD) in Ethiopia partnered with Project Mercy, a faith-based development and relief organization, to help improve the livelihoods and nutritional status of Ethiopians.

 

Watch this short video to learn more about this partnership.

Malawi Agrodealer Strengthening Program

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Overview:

The three-year Malawi Agro-dealer Strengthening Program (MASP) improved the input supply and output marketing distribution channels available to smallholder farmers in the underserved, remote areas of Malawi by developing a commercially viable network of agro-dealers. Prior to MASP interventions, these small farm stores were located mainly in urban areas and were therefore inaccessible for many farmers. In partnership with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), CNFA provided targeted training in business management and productive farming methods and increased smallholder access to agro-dealers in remote areas, thereby raising rural incomes and increasing household productivity.

Program Approach:

  • Conducted a detailed survey of the existing agro-dealer network to identify underserved areas where new startups could be created;
  • Worked with input suppliers to develop and deliver technical training to agro-dealers and promote the use of improved seed;
  • Improved rural access to finance, which is difficult to obtain in remote areas due to the high cost of agricultural financing and high perceived risk by lending institutions;
  • Facilitated smallholder farmer access to larger markets for sale of their improved products;
  • Shaped agricultural policy to promote the interests of private sector growth.
  • Business Management Training:CNFA and MASP worked through commercial trainers to identify and train rural retailers in a six-module business management training program that culminated in agro-dealer certification. The business management training included sessions on: managing working capital, managing stocks, costing and pricing, selling and marketing, record keeping, and managing business relationships. MASP succeeded in training and certifying over 1,500 agro-dealers in Malawi;
  • Credit and Financial Services:After certifying agro-dealers, the program provided access to working capital and trade credit by linking them with input suppliers and microfinance institutions. CNFA leveraged private sector investments and backed commercial credit with a 50% credit guarantee. Almost 300 agro-dealers benefited from MASP’s guarantee component. In addition to improving smallholder access to key value chains and trade in rural markets, CNFA supported capacity building programs and the development of agricultural-specific lending products for financial institutions in Malawi;
  • Technical Training:The program also helped input suppliers to develop and deliver technical training to agro-dealers in product knowledge, handling and safe use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, and use of improved seed. Training was complemented by increased smallholder farmer awareness of, and demand for, improved inputs through demonstration plots and farmer field days. CNFA worked with stakeholders, including the Pesticides Control Board and other groups, to increase their institutional capacity to deliver technical knowledge to smallholder farmers;
  • Agricultural Policy Reform:CNFA worked to improve agricultural policy by increasing the role of the private sector in policy advocacy, decreasing the government’s role in the inputs market and minimizing market distorting subsidies and government interventions. In Malawi, CNFA helped to create the Agriculture Inputs Traders Association (AITA) and worked with AITA to develop a white paper on fertilizer subsidies that was presented to the government. This submission led to a change from direct government distribution of fertilizer to a farmer-held voucher-based system;
  • Output Marketing:CNFA strengthened the linkage between input and output distribution channels and used the rural retailer as a link back to cash markets for their farmer customers. In Malawi, agro-dealers frequently served as a point of market information, traded in outputs as well as inputs, and often engaged in primary processing, storage, or handling. To foster and strengthen capacity to fill this varied role, MASP provided agro-dealers with small matching grants to improve storage facilities, put in small processing facilities, and invest more deeply in equipment for farmer outputs. CNFA trained 217 agro-dealers in output marketing;
  • Animal Health and Veterinary Training:Many of the agro-dealers surveyed provided veterinary supplies and animal healthcare products for rural farmers. As such, technical experts provided training on how to approach veterinary service provision, stock veterinary supplies, feed supplements, and link with wholesale suppliers;
  • Association Development:Association development efforts resulted in a sustainable forum for advocacy on behalf of small business agro-dealers throughout Malawi. Through MASP, CNFA strengthened associations through trainings on organizational management, member services, networking, advocacy, and capacity building. Overall, MASP supported nine agricultural associations and 29 agro-dealer associations.

Kenya Drylands Livestock Development Program

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Overview:

From 2010 to 2013, the USAID-funded Kenya Drylands Livestock Development Program (KDLDP) addressed obstacles facing pastoralists in northeastern Kenya. USAID awarded KDLDP to CNFA through the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Leader with Associate Award (LWA) mechanism. With a total budget of approximately $10 million, the program’s main objective was to increase income and food security for pastoralist households in the districts of Garissa, Ijara, Mandera, Tana River, and Wajir.

Pastoralists in northeastern Kenya face obstacles such as poor access to inputs like animal feed and water, limited access to vaccines, poor linkages between producers and markets, and a lack of price transparency in their local markets. To address these problems, CNFA focused on the entire livestock value chain, connecting herders to markets, credit services, and livestock health inputs while also working to improve the policies that affect pastoralists. CNFA worked with key local partners like the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC) and a Kenyan affiliate, the Agricultural Marketing Development Trust (AGMARK), to address short-term issues facing pastoralists and to lay a foundation for long-term, sustainable development.

KDLDP integrated cross-cutting themes such as gender, youth, and adaptation to climate change, and the project undertook baseline studies, including Household Income Surveys, a Gender Analysis study, and Environment Impact Assessments. These studies and assessments helped to inform local policy and support the continuity of future development initiatives in KDLDP’s target regions.

Program Approach:

  • Enhanced Livestock Trade and Marketing:CNFA mobilized groups including Livestock Marketing Associations (LMAs) to form larger commercially oriented associations of producer groups called Pastoralist Marketing Clusters (PMCs). PMC employees received Business Management Training (BMT) to improve the groups’ negotiation, documentation, record keeping, and bookkeeping skills. Recognizing that cultural implication would not allow the Muslim population in the area to access traditional banking loans, the program created the Community Owned Finance Institution (COFI), Kenya’s first Sharia-compliant Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCOS). KDLDP also contributed to the National Livestock Market Information Systems (NLMIS) by providing weekly information from different markets within the program area. Key information generated from the data collected was broadcasted through the Wajir Community Radio and the Star FM radio stations;
  • Livestock Product Value Addition:CNFA identified initiatives that greatly improved the livelihoods of communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) areas. Program staff worked with local groups to produce and market value-added products for niche markets, identify new market opportunities, conduct studies of new enterprises, support the financing of viable enterprises via grants and guaranteed loans, and support improved performance of existing enterprises;
  • Increased Livestock Productivity and Competitiveness:The Business Management Training (BMT) component of KDLDP equipped agro-dealers with the skills and knowledge to manage and stock their enterprises professionally, and to disseminate the techniques to pastoralists. CNFA also strengthened the ability of Kenya’s Ministry of Livestock Development (MoLD) to implement disease surveillance and better control livestock movements;
  • Facilitate Marketing and Livestock Development through Policy Change:KDLDP held policy dialogue meetings to discuss issues, build consensus, and prepare memoranda detailing constraints and policy suggestions on livestock development. CNFA hosted multiple activities to develop the capacity of the District Livestock Marketing Council (DLMC) and to equip pastoralists’ representatives with the necessary skills to participate in policy processes and advocate on behalf of their constituents;
  • Promote Strategies to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change:KDLDP equipped pastoralists with skills to combat disease epidemics that derive from climate change and more severe weather. The program provided support to the expansion of water harvesting and the mainstreaming of Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) in all program activities. In addition, KDLDP supported vaccination programs in areas where flooding may trigger Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and Hemorrhagic Septicemia.

New Opportunities in Agriculture

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Overview:

New Opportunities in Agriculture (NOA), a five-year, $2 million program funded by USAID under the RAISE PLUS IQC, boosted agricultural production by capitalizing on the strengths of traditional crops, introducing new high-value crops into market, involving women, youth and minorities in the production process and advancing and expanding value chains to draw in infrastructure investment and strengthen export capacity. From 2011 to 2015, NOA put tools in the hands of Kosovar farmers, supporting them in all aspects of production, marketing and entrepreneurial growth by providing vital training and opening market linkages to encourage and facilitate trade.  Working under contract with Tetra Tech, CNFA provided short-term technical expertise in value chain development through its USAID-funded JOhn Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program and extensive network of agribusiness consultants.

Approach:

From 2011 to 2015, NOA promoted value addition in targeted sectors, introduced new crops, including asparagus and saffron, and developed various crop-based producer groups to provide stronger linkages between producers and buyers throughout the region. It also expanded access to credit training and technical assistance for loan borrowers and officers and provided mentoring, training, workshops and technical assistance for private-sector agribusinesses, building the capacity of Kosovo’s private sector agribusinesses.

  1. Increased Affordable and Accessible Credit: NOA enables producers and other value chain actors to access capital or credit through a variety of mechanisms, such as loans and grants. A total of 142 small or medium enterprises received access to credit and grants issues for value chain operators and helped procure a variety of new agricultural equipment, allowing firms to increase productivity and reach new markets.
  2. Linked Farmers to Markets: NOA exposed Kosovar farmers and processors to new markets by organizing study tours and promotional events, as well as facilitating relationships between producers and buyers. These activities exposed producers to new technologies for crop production, new varieties to enhance yields and quality and new, higher-priced crops. In addition, these activities increased awareness amongst potential buyers of new opportunities arising from raw materials produced domestically. The program saw over $3.3 million in sales as a direct result of linkages created between farmers, processors and traders and a total of 310 delivery contracts were issued for targeted crops.
  3. Diversified and Increased Agricultural Products: NOA also expanded production by training farmers on the use of new technologies and value0adding processing, including a new processing line for bagged lettuce — the first of its kind in Kosovo. A total of 25 new technologies and management practices were introduced through the program and 1,200 farmers and processors adopted these new technologies and management practices. CNFA designed a toolbox of interventions to encourage table grape farmers to use growing techniques specific to table grapes, which included instruction on best cultural practices, improved canopy management and integrated the modified “T” trellising. This allowed for an extended growing season across all targeted crops, enabling farmers to produce earlier and earn higher prices.
  4. Improved Food Quality and Safety: NOA worked to improve food quality and safety to ensure Kosovar producers and processors abided by existing food safety regulations issued by government authorities. By working with firms to become certified and meet international standards, NOA built consumer confidence in local products in areas including water sanitation, the establishment of a Listeria exclusion and testing program, pre-harvest inspection procedures, hygiene-enhancing supplies and equipment and the development of a recall plan. Food quality and safety measures implemented through NOA helped to improve product formulations, enrich human resources and further the development of Kosovo’s food industry.

 

Amalima Improves Livestock Productivity in Matabeleland North and South Zimbabwe

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Phillip Sithole, his wife and four children live in Matabeleland South in Zimbabwe, an area characterized by low rainfall available for planting crops. Because of the area’s arid conditions, the land is best suited for raising livestock. Sithole cares for cattle, goats, chickens and Guinea fowl on his small farm and sells at least one of his cattle every year, through his membership at the Magaya Livestock Producers Association, to support his family. But in order to generate a profit, he needs new offspring to replace the cattle he sells.

Unfortunately, low calving rates and in-breeding hinder smallholder farmers like Sithole in their efforts to increase their livestock. To address these constraints, Amalima, a USAID-funded Food for Peace program, initiated a series of trainings on Artificial Insemination (AI). AI affords farmers an opportunity to introduce new genetic material of adaptable and desirable cattle breeds that are better suited for harsher physical environments. Amalima staff, in collaboration with the Department of Livestock Production and Development, Department of Vet Services, Agritex and local paravets, facilitated the trainings to discuss the benefits of AI, as well as its process, timing and post-pregnancy diagnosis.

When Sithole heard about the training opportunity, he gathered funds to pay for seven cows to be inseminated at the cost of $30 USD each. “I am excited for an increase in my animals’ impregnation rate and am looking forward to a better income for my family,” Sithole expressed. Like most farmers who attended the training, the average pregnancy rate using traditional methods is between 20-30%. The insemination, introduced by Amalima, crossed his cows with a more resilient breed to improve the quality of his heard. After insemination, Amalima staff came back to inspect Sithole’s cows and found that 100% of the inseminated animals were pregnant.

To date, Amalima has trained 304 farmers (211 male and 93 female) on AI throughout Amalima’s four program areas. Because of these trainings, there is now a 68% success rate of pregnant cows as a result of AI and farmers are expecting their first generation of crosses in early March 2015. With this new technology and improvement in livestock production, families like the Sithole’s are able to plan better for their future needs. Additionally, these farmers are able to predict how many of their animals will become pregnant as a result of a much higher pregnancy rate than using traditional breeding methods.

Amalima applies a set of innovative approaches by building on existing communal initiatives and solidarity to address food and nutrition insecurity and strengthen resilience to shocks. It is introducing new farming technologies like AI though its livestock component in addition to teaching beneficiaries to become better farmers in difficult physical environments. CNFA leads a consortium of partners including Organization of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), Africare, Dabane Water Works, International Medical Corps (IMC), and the Manoff Group to increase productivity, improve drought resilience and adaptation, and enhance nutrition care practices in Matabeleland North and South, Zimbabwe.

South Sudan Cattle Program

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Overview:

The two-year, $2 million South Sudan Cattle Program (SSCP), funded by the U.S. Department of State (2021-2014) 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 industry is an important source of rural livelihoods and plays a central role in defining social status. Cattle theft is a common occurrence and stolen animals are a source of meat, milk and dowry.

Approach:

  1. Conducted Research on Conflicts: 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 a cattle ownership registration program.
  2. Conducted Research on Tagging Methods: 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.
  3. Designed and Piloted Tailored Traceability System: Through a consultative process and an intensive assessment and design phase, CNFA designed a traceability system tailored to the realities of South Sudan, providing the greatest opportunities for sustainable expansion and implementation at a national level. The program then launched a pilot identification and registration system that enabled the individual cattle to be traced for life. Coupled with the identification system, SSCP activities supported the development of a computerized cattle ownership registration center.
  4. Partnered with Key Stakeholders: 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 formally closed by the Department of State in September of the same year due to escalating safety issues as the 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 the Livestock Identification and Traceability System (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.