Malawi Agrodealer Strengthening Program

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.

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.

 

Business Connections Program

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Overview:

The two-year, $471,675 Business Connections Program (2011-2013), funded by USAID and the Government of Kazakhstan (GOKZ),  built the capacity and competitiveness of Kazakhstani small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through modernization and expansion initiatives. The program was aligned with the GOKZ’s broader national development plan to diversify the economy through the development of Kazakhstani SMEs. The Business Connections Program also supported the objectives of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the JSC Entrepreneurship Fund (DAMU). CNFA helped identify expert agriculture trainers, plans and volunteer experts and helped create agriculture-related training materials to meet the program’s objectives.

Approach:

  1. Provided Business Management Trainings: Identified qualified U.S. agricultural business experts to develop training curriculums and deliver business management courses to Kazakhstani participants.
  2. Organized Study Tours: Led selection process of study tour participants chosen to represent Kazakhstani companies in targets industry sectors and facilitated three-week-long study tours which included industry-specific training, business meetings with U.S. companies, roundtable seminars and trade shows.
  3. Strengthened Access to Information and Learning: Redesigned the DAMU business portal to encourage information sharing and distance learning among participants.

Farmer-to-Farmer: East Africa

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Overview:

The five-year, $7.4 million John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer program in East Africa, funded through USAID, focused on select agricultural value chains, identifying needs at every level from production to marketing.

From 2008 to 2013, CNFA sent over 320 volunteers to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and a limited number of volunteers to Rwanda. The hard work put forth by volunteers and field staff made the program a success.

Approach:

CNFA relied heavily on the expertise of U.S. volunteers from diverse backgrounds to respond to the needs of host country farmers and organizations. Our volunteers possessed deep expertise in their fields and represented all ages and industries, including farmers, bankers, professors, civil servants and active and retired business people.

The assignments, ranging from two to four-week-long projects and varied in scope, trained associated service providers and agribusinesses in topics from financial management to marketing, cooperative development, agricultural production, post-harvest and processing technologies, international quality standards and rural finance.

Zaytun

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Overview:

CNFA implemented the two-year (2011-2013), $3.2 million Zaytun Project to strengthen strategic components of the table olive and olive oil value chains in the regions of Nubaria and Matrouh through the delivery of targeted technical assistance to small and medium Egyptian olive processors and training with complimentary grants-matching assistance to smallholder olive farmers.

Working with local partners like the Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI) and the Egyptian Olive Council, the Zaytun Project addressed short-term problems that olive producers and processors face, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for long-term sustainable development. In collaboration with these partners, CNFA designed a strong, value-chain-based program that strengthened production and post-harvest practices of olive farmers, delivered technical assistance and training to small and medium-sized table olive oil and olive oil processors and facilitated business linkages between supported olive growers’ associations and processors. Through various policy initiatives, the Zaytun Project increased expansion into higher-value export markets and improved the reputation and image of the Egyptian olive industry.

The Zaytun Project brought Egyptian olive oil to the international stage. In collaboration with the Chamber of Food Industry, the Project developed an olive industry website to increase the exposure of the Egyptian olive sector. The success of project-sponsored processors at an international olive oil competition marked an important step in establishing the reputation of Egyptian olive oil internationally, as well as introducing a new identity of Egyptian olive oil on the international market. After this success in 2013, it is likely new categories will be created for North African olive oils in next year’s competition.

Approach:

  1. Strengthened Producers: The Zaytun Project strengthened smallholder olive producers through assistance in production practices, post-harvest handling and organized producers into viable growers associations. The project orchestrates intensive training, technical assistance, association development and study tour activities to educate olive producers on best practice techniques. The core training activity was a Farm Field School (FFS) training program, where a tired design allowed the lessons of a few technical specialists to reach thousands of police farmers. The Project compiled a manual in Arabic and English to ensure these experts could carry lessons into future training programs. Additionally, the Zaytun Project awarded four one-to-one grants to farmers’ associations that resulted in the creation and upgrade of several micro-processing units for pickling olives, as well as the funding for two composting projects. Finally, the Zaytun Project facilitated a study tour in Italy to further strengthen farm management and collective marketing of olives.
  2. Strengthened Processors: After an intensive selection phase, the Zaytun Projects strengthened olive processors through technical assistance to improve quality and engaged in value addition that led to increased exports, profits and employment. The project chose 15 processor companies to participate in a series of technical assistance, training and trade show activities. Two international experts served as consultants for these processors and directly addressed the individual obstacles facing each business. An additional marketing consultant was hired to assess production and marketing of olive oil products, provide marketing advice and collect oil samples for entrance into an international competition. The Zaytun Project compiled a manual to ensure the advice of the consultants could be preserved and easily distributed. A supplementary training session on agro-finance was organized with four Egyptian banks that resulted in the creation of the first working capital loan projects for the olive sector in the country. Through targeted training and technical assistance, the Zaytun Project fortified the techniques and opportunities of Egyptian olive processing companies.
  3. Strengthening Market Linkages: The Zaytun Project facilitated producer-processor linkages through the creation of direct relationships, resulting in an improved olive supply, strengthened commercial relations and increased sales and incomes for producers and processors. The Project also hosted a total of four market linkage workshops to bring together olive producers and processors. CNFA worked directly with producer and processor representatives with the objective of facilitating business linkages between Egyptian olive farmers and processors.

 

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 the agricultural sector. The Seeds Project (2007-2012), 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, $6.1 million project funded by USAID and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), with 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.

Approach:

Through the Seeds Project, WASA advanced the development and implementation of national seed laws and regulations, created and strengthened private seed enterprises, provided business management and technical trainings, produced a foundation for certified seed available for distribution and conducted seed variety trials for cereals and vegetables through the following approach:

  1. Provided Business Management and Technical Trainings: The project’s Agrodealer Business Training Program built the business capacity of local seed company managers through training in 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.
  2. Increased Agricultural Productivity: WASA 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 alliance had a significant impact on production practices throughout WASA countries. Field days were an effective medium in spreading awareness of improved farming methods. With participants spanning from local agrodealers to government officials and major supply companies, the input systems in target countries saw marked improvement.
  3. Created and Strengthened Private Seed Enterprises: WASA developed viable agricultural inputs systems and supported the overall growth of the West African agricultural sector by creating a sustainable commercial seed industry that provided small-scale farmers with affordable, timely and reliable access to high-input quality seeds and planting materials. In cooperation with input supplies, WASA organized demonstration plots and farmer field days to enhance awareness about new products and technologies.
  4. Improved Technical Training of Seed Enterprises: CNFA worked through input-supply companies and commercial trainers to build capacity for the safe usage and handling of products. WASA field demonstrations also provided an excellent educational tool to teach both agrodealers and farmers about new varieties and correct herbicide and fertilizer application.
  5. Improved Seed Output Marketing: WASA linked agrodealers and farmer producer groups to commodity traders and crop processors to create market pull for farmer production. It also assisted seed companies and associations in establishing seed marketing strategies.

Commercial Strengthening of Smallholder Cocoa Production

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Overview:

Launched in 2009, the three-year, $2.9 million Commercial Strengthening of Smallholder Cocoa Production (CSSCPP), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2009-2012), aimed to stimulate capital investment and enhance the lives of farmers in the Ghanaian cocoa business. CSSCPP promoted improved production techniques and increased access to inputs, finance and crop diversification. Through the use of strategically designed matching grants, the project also leveraged $5.8 million in private investment.

CNFA, in collaboration with the National Cocoa Producer Association, Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union and Chemico Limited, provided support to cocoa farmers through training, certification programs, land tenure and association development.

Approach:

  1. Improved Association Development: To promote more convenient access to inputs, training, finance and collective marketing, CNFA supported farmers in organizing into groups, clusters and associations, allowing for better service of the maximum number of farmers through project activities to give farmers easy access (within six kilometers) to products and services.
  2. Developed Integrated Warehouse: CNFA collaborated with agro-input suppliers and farmer associations to build model pilot mini-warehouses to serve cocoa producers. Each mini-warehouse had two separate areas: a cocoa buying and certification area operated by local buying companies, and a room for the producers to use for association meetings, trainings and other events. A small, independent agro-dealer shop selling agro-inputs (seeds, fertilizers and crop protection chemicals) was typically located nearby. By offering inputs for many crops rather than just cocoa, these agrodealers encouraged crop diversification.
  3. Improved Technical Capacity and Certification: Farmers and agro-dealers received technical training on cocoa production. In addition, demonstration plots and farmer field days organized with input suppliers encouraged crop diversification and improved cocoa production practices. After determining the cost-benefit tradeoffs of various certification schemes, the project provided information and training for farmers who chose to secure internationally recognized certifications like Fair Trade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance. As a result of project training and certification services, beneficiary farmers’ yields increased by 189% and incomes increased by 309%.
  4. Stimulated Capital Investment: CNFA conducted an extensive study of land tenure issues as they impact the cocoa industry, focusing on the impact on the very small-scale producers, women and sharecroppers. In addition, CNFA piloted land-titling training for landowners and worked with financial institutions to pilot new credit and crop insurance to mitigate farmer risk.

 

Agribusiness Development Activity

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Overview:

CNFA implemented the four-year (2006-2010), $20 million Agribusiness Development Activity (ADA), funded under the Millennium Challenge Georgia Fund (MCG) as part of the Compact between the Government of Georgia and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), to catalyze local matching investments from Georgian partner enterprises and farmers. Through matching grants, farmers received access to innovative agricultural production technology, inputs, quality control practices and output marketing as well as stronger market linkages and reliable sources of inputs and methods to market higher-value products.

Approach:

  1. Supported Local Enterprise Development: ADA awarded resources to groups of farmers and enterprises applying innovative business solutions and technology to boost household incomes and net revenues. Applications submitted included a business plan built for domestic market demand.
  2. Facilitated Improvements to Agricultural Value Chains: Value chain improvements were accomplished through technical assistance via long- and short-term consultants and volunteers, formal and informal training and access to grants and capital mobilization proposed by bidders responding to ADA’s request. The Value Chain Initiative built strategic commercial linkages between producers, processors and markets in promising Georgian agricultural sectors, including dairy, meat and poultry products, fruits, citrus, nuts, vegetables and potatoes.
  3. Conducted Rural Outreach: ADA launched a mass media campaign to empower Georgians to make better choices about their business environment and families through access to information.

The Agribusiness Project

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Overview:

The five-year, $90 million Pakistan Agribusiness Project (TAP), funded by USAID/Pakistan, strengthened local capacity within key value chains to increase sales in domestic and foreign markets. From 2011 to 2016, the project bolstered economic growth, created employment opportunities and amplified the competitiveness of horticulture and livestock value chains. TAP also increased the effectiveness of smallholder enterprises, enhanced agriculture productivity and was the first USAID economic growth program led by a Pakistani organization, the Agribusiness Support Fund (ASF).

As ASF’s stateside partner, CNFA assisted ASF in strengthening grant management, accounting, reporting, monitoring and evaluation and environmental and information management systems and procedures, as well as providing technical assistance for the development of horticulture and livestock value chains.

Approach:

  1. Supported with Technical Assistance: CNFA provided capacity-building support to farmers, associations and agribusiness enterprises across the target value chains.
  2. Provided Grant Funding: Through TAP, CNFA customized cost-sharing grant products across the key value chains.
  3. Improved Agribusiness Marketing: Provided international support for agricultural marketing and brand development to identify and capitalize on high-price market opportunities and develop linkages.
  4. Promoted Sub-Sector Development: CNFA established several “Value Chain Platforms: to promote the development of specific subsectors and create linkages between the stakeholders involved in value chains.

Monitoring and Evaluation and Data Collection: CNFA provided technical support regarding USAID regulations, baseline studies, participatory rapid horticulture and livestock appraisal assessments, gender analysis, data collection tools, development of indicators and training project staff in development evaluation to comply with ASF’s Performance Monitoring Plan (PMP). This included designing the activity reporting formats, developing the data entry, analysis and reporting software and defining the data in-and-outflow mechanism. This assistance also included efforts to build the capacity of TAP regional teams in the operation of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems.

Environmental Compliance: CNFA helped ensure that the project and its associated grant activities complied with USAID environmental regulations. This cooperative effort drew on CNFA’s experience in knowledge management, compliance, M&E studies and reporting environmental impacts of project interventions. CNFA spearheaded the Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Agribusiness Project, which involved identifying potential environmental and social issues that could develop as a result of project activities. As a result of CNFA’s technical assistance on the EA, USAID approval was obtained, clearing the way for large grants. CNFA also helped ASF by training regional M&E staff and developing an environmental compliance system that incorporated USAID’s approval for grant activities.

Geographical Information System (GIS) and Management Information System (MIS): The CNFA GIS team provided technical support to the Agribusiness Project by developing GIS maps reflecting project regions, value chains, activity sites and beneficiaries. In addition to developing more than 300 maps, the CNFA team used Google Earth to create animated video tours for the targeted value chains. GIS support in the design, implementation and monitoring of the project accomplished the following:

  • Mapped project interventions and beneficiaries across the targeted value chains and regions.
  • Provided environmental screening on project activities.
  • Tracked project progress on activities and performance indicators.
  • Identified value chain clusters with respect to regions and value chain actors including producers, processors, market agents and service providers.
  • Located exact locations of project beneficiaries and grantees.

CNFA also initiated the development of a Geographical Information-based Decision Support System, available on- and offline for project data management to provide centralized information readily available to all relevant stakeholders. CNFA supported the Agribusiness Project in its development, maintenance and transfer of M&E and information technology systems for impact assessment and reporting to a web-based, integrated management information system (IMIS). This system automated the functions of human resources, finance, procurement, grants management, M&E and GIS to increase the efficiency of internal communication and improve decision-making capacity of management.

Capacity Building: CNFA provided technical assistance and capacity building for both TAP staff and beneficiaries. The CNFA Capacity Building Advisor assisted TAP in various project components, including short-listing business development service providers for a more comprehensive TAP capacity building grant. CNFA’s team supported needs assessments, drafting of scopes of work and the development of implementation plans for a capacity development program for Farm Service Centers (FSCs) in FATA, a market linkages program between National Food Limited and progressive red chili farmers and a capacity development program for representatives of the horticulture and livestock value chains in the AJK region. Additionally, CNFA assisted ASF in organizing exposure visits for representatives of the FSCs from FATA.