Agrodealer Strengthening Program

Agrodealer Strengthening Program

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Overview:

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

Program Approach:

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

Agribusiness Development Project

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Overview:

CNFA’s Agribusiness Development Project (ADP) in Moldova improved the international competitiveness and trade performance of the country’s high-value agriculture (HVA) sector, ultimately increasing rural incomes and employment. The $12.5 million program, funded by USAID, was successful in preparing Moldovan enterprises to meet the challenges of the international market. ADP strengthened the capacity of all participants in the value chain in Moldova, including producers, processors, aggregators, and exporters. The approach emphasized identification of markets for individual products, the use of value-chain drivers, production of marketable products, financing for replication, and the dissemination of market information.

Program Approach:

  • Development of the High-Value Agriculture Sector: ADP focused on developing the high-value agriculture sector by increasing the quality of crops through new technologies, including cold storage, better pre- and post-harvest handling techniques, and improved seeds. By the end of the project, participating firms had exported over $105 million in processed agricultural products, an increase of more than 23 percent.
  • International Quality Assurance & Certifications: In order to boost exports to higher-value international markets, CNFA facilitated largescale gains in crop quality assurance and certification in food safety and quality standards.
  • Expanding Access to Markets: Due to Russia’s 2005 embargo on Moldovan fresh fruits and vegetables, ADP began identifying and cataloging new markets for Moldovan produce. Target market conformation studies were conducted in the Baltics, Belarus, Germany, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine to assess the demand and market qualifications for 12 products, including apples, sweet peppers, tomatoes, table grapes, and other fresh fruits and vegetables. ADP conducted detailed rapid market appraisals in Romania, Russia, and Ukraine to give greater market detail and identify specific buyers. Domestic and international study tours followed to allow more than 1,500 people to make important international buying contacts.
  • Leveraging Private Investment Through Matching Grants: ADP employed matching grants to increase local buy-in and promote investment in new technologies, awarding 23 producers and processors with grants worth $1.3 million to implement modern technologies including cold storage and new drying facilities. With a matching ratio of 2:1, the grants leveraged an additional $2.9 million from local enterprises. Producers were able to increase their annual sales from $500,000 to over $4.2 million, almost $2 million in high-value products. Similarly, processors increased their sales of high-value products from $1.3 million to $6.1 million.
  • Promoting Market Information: To ensure producers and processors had access to the latest market information and training material, CNFA worked with the National Extension Network, a local Moldovan non-profit development agency, to create the Export MoldovaExport Moldova provided market surveys and training materials on international safety certifications, modern agricultural practices, and planning and management.

Agrodealer Strengthening Program for Mali

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Overview:

Partnering with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), CNFA implemented the three-year Agro-dealer Strengthening Program for Mali (ASP-M) to increase rural incomes and reduce poverty by transforming Mali’s underdeveloped input distribution practices into a more efficient, commercially viable input supply system. ASP-M strengthened Malian agro-dealers by providing training in business management and productive farming methods and increased farmer access to agro-dealers in remote areas, ultimately raising rural incomes and increasing household productivity. In order to transform Mali’s agro-dealer network sustainably, our team implemented a methodical four-step approach.

Program Approach:

  • Built Agro-dealer Capacity to Serve Farmers: ASP-M developed and implemented activities including business management training, training in product knowledge, and safe use of chemicals and fertilizers. The program also increased market demand for improved inputs through demonstration plots, exhibitions, and farmer field days.
  • Improved Rural Access to Finance: To complement stronger business and technical expertise of program trainees, CNFA worked to improve agro-dealers’ access to finance, creating guarantee facilities to stimulate access to trade credit and capital, developing agricultural lending training for commercial banks and microfinance institutions, building targeted agricultural lending products, and introducing competitive matching grants to spur private sector investment.
  • Connected Farmers to Markets: With better financing in place, the program focused on smallholder farmer access to larger markets for distribution of their products. CNFA worked with agro-dealers to develop and deliver basic output marketing training in order to increase farmer awareness of market opportunities and to help link them to existing market channels.
  • Advanced Agricultural Policy Advocacy: The last component of ASP-M focused on improving channels for a sustainable public-private policy dialogue. CNFA maintained a leadership role in the policy arena, shaping Malian agricultural policy to promote the interests of private sector growth and of the rural smallholder. CNFA also supported the growth of the Agro-dealers National Union in Mali (UNRIA-Mali), which received an endorsement from former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan after he visited the project in August 2010.

To ensure the successful operation of UNRIA, CNFA provided training on organizational management, member services, networking, and advocacy capacity building. This last component of ASP-M ensured that the program would be self-sustaining and bring increased business for agro-dealers and higher incomes for smallholder farmers.

Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project

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Overview:

The goal of the Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project (ASAP) is to increase the incomes of agribusinesses and agricultural producers, with the purpose of accelerating the development of Azerbaijan’s non-oil economy. To accomplish this, CNFA will support the growth and expanded exports of agribusiness entrepreneurs through the utilization of local Business Service Providers (BSPs) and increased access to finance; by promoting improved production practices through strengthened extension services; and by facilitating a favorable business enabling environment through expanded dialogue and the use of analytical tools and training.

Program Approach:

ASAP, currently in the preparatory phase of implementation, will build on the successes of USAID’s support to agricultural producers and processors in Azerbaijan over the last 15 years. Various activities have strengthened the ability of domestic producers to meet international quality standards, increased exports, and fostered better supply and domestic market demand, in turn boosting employment and incomes. ASAP targets value chains with the highest economic potential including hazelnuts, pomegranates, orchard crops and vegetables. In specific, CNFA activities will:

  1. Assist growers and processors to adopt new technologies and techniques to increase the quality and quantity of production;
  2. Facilitate increased exports and enhanced domestic marketing through more rigorous food safety systems, packing, and post-harvest methods;
  3. Strengthen the linkages among actors in the respective value chains and foster cooperation through strengthened industry associations; and
  4. Build the availability, quality, capacity, and sustainability of Business Service Providers and public and private extension services.

For more information on up-to-date-impacts, please refer to the ASAP Impacts section of this page or contact the REAP team at nolgesashvili@cnfa.org.

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.

Business Connections Program

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Overview:

The two-year Business Connections Program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (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 Development Fund (DAMU). CNFA helped to identify expert agriculture trainers, plans, and volunteer experts, and helped create agriculture-related training materials to meet the program’s objectives.

Program Approach:

  • Identified qualified U.S. agricultural business experts to develop training curriculums and deliver business management courses to Kazakhstani participants;
  • Led selection process of participants, chosen to represent Kazakhstani companies in targeted industry sectors through study tours;
  • Facilitated three-week long study tours, which included industry-specific training, business meetings with U.S. companies, roundtable seminars, and trade shows;
  • Redesigned the DAMU business portal to encourage information sharing and distance learning among participants.

Commercial Strengthening of Smallholder Cocoa Production

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Overview:

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

Program Approach:

  • Collaborated with agro-input suppliers and farmers to build 20 Business Development Centers for cocoa buying, as well as training and association meetings;
  • Provided training in best practices and crop diversification to enhance production of cocoa and other crops;
  • Worked with financial institutions to institute new credit programs to mitigate risk for farmers.

Association Development: In order to promote more convenient access to inputs, training, finance, and collective marketing, CNFA supported farmers to organize 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.

Development of Integrated Warehouses: CNFA collaborated with agro-input suppliers and farmer associations to build model pilot mini-warehouses to serve cocoa producers. Each mini-warehouse has two separate areas: a cocoa buying and certification area operated by local buying companies and a room for the producer groups to use for association meetings, trainings, and other events. A small, independent agro-dealer shop selling agro-inputs (seeds, fertilizers, and crop protection chemicals) is typically located nearby. By offering inputs for many crops rather than just cocoa, these agro-dealers encourage crop diversification.

Technical Improvement 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 program provided information and training, should the farmers choose 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%.

Stimulating Capital Investment: CNFA conducted an extensive study of land tenure issues as they impact the cocoa industry, focusing on the impact on 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, $20 million Agribusiness Development Activity (ADA), funded under the Millennium Challenge Georgia Fund (MCG) as part of the Compact between the Georgian government 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.

Program Approach:

  • Enterprise Initiative: 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;
  • Value Chain Initiative: Value chain improvements were accomplished through technical assistance (via long- and short-term consultants/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;
  • Rural Outreach Initiative: ADA launched a mass media campaign to empower Georgians to make better choices about their business environment and families through access to information.

Farmer-to-Farmer: East Africa

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Overview:

The five-year 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 2009 to 2014, CNFA sent over 320 volunteers to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, and a limited number of volunteers to Rwanda. CNFA is proud of the hard work put forth by volunteers and field staff to make the program a success.

Program Approach:

CNFA relies heavily on the expertise of U.S. volunteers from diverse backgrounds to respond to the needs of host country farmers and organizations. Our volunteers are experts in their fields and represent all ages and industries. They are farmers, bankers, professors, civil servants, and active and retired business people. The assignments, ranging from two-to-four-week long projects, vary in scope, from training associated service providers and agribusinesses in financial management to marketing, cooperative development, agricultural production, post-harvest and processing technologies, international quality standards, and rural finance.