Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Wunguke Activity

Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Wunguke Activity

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Overview

Rwanda has seen significant improvement in agricultural production over the past 10 years. However, challenges due to the limited use of improved seeds, fertilizers and other inputs, lack of market information and environmental constraints such as land size and soil health persist. The sector also faces challenges such as food insecurity and malnutrition among vulnerable households, with 20.6% of the Rwandan population experiencing food insecurity, 18.8% experiencing moderate food insecurity and 1.8% experiencing severe food insecurity. About 32.4 percent of under five years children are chronically malnourished (2021 Rwanda CFSVA). Recurring extreme weather shocks and global climate change also pose serious challenges to the continued growth of the sector. Modernizing the agriculture sector offers the potential to boost productivity and create additional economic opportunities, while improving food security and nutrition outcomes for rural households.

The five-year Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Wunguke Activity aims to increase incomes and improve nutrition in Rwanda by sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and strengthening the domestic consumption and market for high-value and nutritious agricultural products. Hinga Wunguke, which translates to “grow profitable” in Kinyarwanda, utilizes a market systems approach, engaging and working through existing public and private market actors and structures to facilitate inclusive, locally driven and sustainable change.

By 2028, Hinga Wunguke will significantly improve Rwanda’s agricultural productivity, strengthen resilience to climate change, increase profitability for farmers and enhance nutrition and food security outcomes by enhancing access to improved inputs, knowledge, technologies, practices, finance and markets. It will also support policies that enable and incentivize private-sector investment and growth.

Approach

  1. Increase Agricultural Productivity: Hinga Wunguke focuses on improving agricultural practices by facilitating farmers’ access to knowledge, information and improved inputs and technologies. This approach aims to increase productivity, while promoting sustainable agriculture and strengthening resilience to shocks, such as the environmental and economic impacts of climate change.
  2. Facilitate Access to Finance for Farmers and Agribusinesses: Hinga Wunguke facilitates access to finance and improves financial literacy skills of farmers and agribusiness so that they can obtain and manage funding needed to boost their production and incomes. Hinga Wunguke also prioritizes engagement with the private sector to increase value chain financing and farm and agribusiness investment opportunities.
  3. Improve Market Availability and Demand for Nutritious Foods: Hinga Wunguke expands farmers’ access to markets while increasing the availability and consumption of safe and nutritious food for Rwandan consumers. The Activity will accomplish this by using a market systems approach to support the private sector in developing and promoting nutritious products. It then helps generate demand by educating consumers on the benefits of nutritious products.
  4. Strengthen the Enabling Environment for Market-Driven Agriculture: Hinga Wunguke works closely with other USAID/Rwanda implementing partners to strengthen the enabling environment for the development and implementation of policies that strengthen the Government of Rwanda’s (GOR) role as an enabler and the private sector’s role as a main driver of agricultural growth. The Activity will facilitate improved public-private dialogue so that the GOR can better support the private sector to invest in and lead systemic changes that modernize the agriculture sector and drive inclusive growth.

Partners

  • MarketShare Associates (MSA):A global firm of creative facilitators, strategists, economists and experienced research and implementation experts who believe that both public and private institutions should contribute to social transformation. Having already a great deal of experience in Rwanda, MSA’s mission is to bring actionable insights to market development.
  • Rwandan market systems actors: A key part of the Hinga Wunguke market-oriented approach will be its Catalytic Service Provider Fund and its Market Systems Opportunity Grants, which together total over USD 5.3 million. These resources will allow Hinga Wunguke to engage, innovate, disengage, adapt, and scale with a large number of Rwandan market systems actors whenever needed. Hinga Wunguke will also use “Pitch Fairs” and an approach of “aggressive facilitation” to identify entrepreneurs and change makers and bring in new expertise where it is most appropriate to achieve desired results. Hinga Wunguke will continually seek participant feedback on the use of these resources, including through annual surveys, impact assessments, and quarterly focus group discussions with participants throughout the relevant implementation areas of Rwanda.

Deterring Elephants with Chili Strings: Reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict

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The Tsholotsho District of Zimbabwe is home to an abundance of wild animals that move about freely. The Matabeleland region, where the district is located and where the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance-funded Amalima Loko activity operates, is home to over 50,000 elephants.[1] Growing human and animal populations have increased pressure on land, food and water resources, creating competition between wild animals and local residents such as Mark Neta from the village of Funda. Human-wildlife conflict is an ever-present concern, endangering both the people and the animals involved. Herds of elephants can trample huge areas of cropland overnight, destroying the main food and livelihood source for local residents.

“Elephants are the most problematic animals,” Neta said. “They destroy crops and we would barely harvest.”

Trying to prevent this damage, Neta and other local farmers tried to scare them away through methods like beating drums.

“These efforts were, in most cases, in vain,” he said. “The elephants would still come.”

The implications of human-wildlife conflict for food security in the area were highlighted by Funda villagers during a Community Visioning exercise facilitated by Amalima Loko in late 2021. These sessions serve as forums where communities and their leaders can identify areas to prioritize and plan development interventions.

Mark Neta, from Funda village, Tsholtsho, pointing at a chili string.

To support the community’s goal of reducing human-wildlife conflict, Amalima Loko worked with local leaders to explore new ideas for deterring elephants from destroying crops. This is when they discovered the chili strings method used in other regions. While some were skeptical of its effectiveness, the community decided to try the method anyway. This involved hanging chili-infused strings across known elephant routes near cultivated areas to deter their entry into fields. The strings were hung as part of a three-month pilot in three villages in April 2022.

To create the strings, chilis must first be dried for six weeks, then ground into flakes and immersed in a liquid solution for 36 hours. Elias Sibanda, one of twelve community members trained in this chili string method, explained the process of then diluting the flakes with used engine oil before immersing the strings in the solution. After this, the strings are ready for use.

“You do not block the elephant’s routes or corridors but only at the point they divert into the fields,” he said. “We laid it 200 meters from the field.”

This proved to be successful with participants noticing the elephants being put off by the smell of the fuel-immersed chilis.

“Since the strings were laid in April, we have seen elephants diverting their movement from our village,” Sibanda said.

Some respondents in focus group discussions described elephants backing up and stomping in frustration, but then turning and changing direction away from the chili strings.

Community leaders identified young men like Sibanda, who frequently encounter wildlife in their work as cattle herders, to receive training as scouts and first responders for elephant encounters. Training participants gained new skills and agency, positioning them as important resources within their community.

“I was selected on the basis of my local knowledge of the bush and my passion to serve my community,” Sibanda said. “Together with other scouts from other villages, we were introduced to the ‘chili strings’ technology. We despised this at first. How can a string deter something as big as an elephant? Surely this should be a bad joke—so we thought.”

However, participants report a marked reduction in elephant encroachment in the areas where the chili strings were in use, as elephants stayed on their main paths rather than diverting towards fields.

“We at least managed to harvest—thanks to the chili strings. We have not seen or witnessed an elephant invasion to date [after hanging the strings],” Sibanda said.

Preventing elephants from destroying crops improves food security, but also reduces close encounters between humans and elephants. This frees farmers from having to monitor their fields day and night and gives them more time for other livelihood activities. Villagers also reported that they can now travel safely to schools and health centers without having to fear dangerous elephant encounters as much.

“Elephants have been giving us problems,” Stabile Sibanda said. “We would sleep in the fields between March and June guarding our fields.”

Funda village residents en route to inspect the chili strings.

This particularly impacted women, with the fear of elephant encounters preventing them from carrying out daily responsibilities.

“We were afraid to go to the clinic to collect our medicines or even get the porridge for the 6- to 24-month-old children,” Stabile Sibanda said, referring to Amalima Loko’s Blanket Supplementary Feeding Program, which distributes food baskets of Corn Soya Blend Plus (CSB+) and vegetable oil to pregnant and lactating women and children under two. “[Before the introduction of the chili strings,] it was even difficult for us to enjoy the common wild fruits such as Msosobiyana. Elephants would ravage this nutritious delicacy. Women would be afraid to gather thatching grass—elephants would also destroy this grass. School children would not go to school whenever there were reports that the elephants were roaming around.”

Participants reported that the chili strings strategy was easy to implement and less laborious than previous efforts to discourage elephants. The community will need to complete a full cycle of planting and harvesting next year to gauge the final results of the pilot activity, but early observations have prompted communities to begin mobilizing resources and planting chilies to make more chili strings for the upcoming season.

While the chili strings method is showing promising initial results for deterring elephants, the community still has many challenges to contend with, including lions, jackals and painted dogs. Addressing human-wildlife conflict requires intentional investment in good land use planning and adherence to grazing plans, as well as the development of effective early warning systems. Amalima Loko will continue to work with the Funda village and communities throughout the project area to address human-wildlife conflict and other food security and resilience priorities that have been identified through the Community Visioning process.

[1]https://www.cms.int/sites/default/files/document/cms_nlp_zwe_plan_elephant_2021.pdf

Adapting to the Climatic Conditions Affecting Cashew Nut Production in Benin

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In Gbaoussi, a village in the district of Nikki in Northern Benin, Yarou Saka Abdoulaye works as a cotton producer. However, when he is not working in his cotton field, he maintains and grows his cashew orchard— an initiative he started three years ago. Abdoulaye embarked on this endeavor to broaden his horizons and try something new but, with a high seedling mortality rate, it was difficult for him to achieve the desired results. To make matters worse, access to quality grafted seedlings was limited, mainly because of its sensitivity to climatic conditions.

The USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project worked with Abdoulaye and other farmers to address and overcome these issues, especially in the preliminary stages, through training sessions and cashew production strategy support to deal with the changing weather conditions. This includes the PRO-Cashew Project’s “Climate Change Adaptation System for Cashew Grafting Success” trainings, which help novice cashew growers and those facing challenges related to high plant mortality, introduce best practices and access quality grafted seedlings.

“Since 2019, when I started my orchard, I have seen three-quarters of my plants die,” Abdoulaye said. “People have told me that this is largely due to the recent climatic variability that Benin experiences. But, when I was enrolled in PRO-Cashew’s training and follow-up program, I understood that it is now possible to reverse this trend and realize my great dream of creating my cashew plantation.”

Yarou Saka Abdoulaye tends to his crops in Gbaoussi, Benin

 

Six months after receiving the training, Abdoulaye’s plants are growing well and thriving in his orchard, with grafted seedlings experiencing lower mortality rates. Of the 125 grafted plants he received from the Project, 123 are still alive, putting the mortality rate at only 1.6%. With the success of his cashew trees, he hopes to become a model for his community and help other producers adapt their farming practices to be more resilient against the area’s climatic variability.

“I would like to be able to share my skills and experience, helping other members of my community who are facing problems related to climate variability in their orchards,” Abdoulaye said.

He credits the PRO-Cashew Project and its on-farm training exercises for helping him and other local cashew producers better understand the difficulties they were going through, and for giving them the chance to carry out the remedial agricultural practices firsthand.

“They trained us theoretically and practically by giving us advice on what to do and what not to do, but above all by allowing us to practice the advice received in our different orchards,” he said.

One of the key methods used to optimize Abdoulaye’s cashew tree production is simple and can be done with easily accessible materials. With a 1.5-liter plastic water bottle, it is possible to install a drip irrigation system by turning it upside down against a stake at the foot of the plant, and unscrewing the cap slightly to allow water to drip. From here, all that is needed is for the bottle to be refilled once or twice a week through a hole at the base. Finally, to maximize the use of water, mulching is recommend especially in areas with a low risk of a termite attack.

PRO-Cashew Training Increases Farmer Incomes

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Sumaila Edibo is a cashew farmer living in Iyale, a settlement in the Kogi state in central Nigeria. Since Edibo’s two-ha cashew farm provides his family with their primary livelihood and source of income, he decided to partner with the USDA Food for Progress-funded West Africa PRO-Cashew Project in 2021 to learn how he could improve his business skills, agronomic practices and harvest and post-harvest handling to increase his farm’s productivity and revenue.

Edibo participated in all of the trainings organized by PRO-Cashew in Nigeria where he learned best practices for weeding, timely pest management and disease control and harvest and post-harvest handling. He also learned how to collect and analyze relevant market information from buyers like Sonata Agri International, a local agro-processor, to improve farm-level decision-making and take advantage of market opportunities.

After Edibo applied these improved practices on his orchard, the productivity of his farm significantly increased. Edibo recounted that in 2021, before his participation in the training program, his farm yield was approximately 960 kg per ha, for which he earned $960 (NGN 420,000). In 2022, however, his farm yield increased by about 25% to 1,200 kg per ha. As a result of his farm’s increased output and the better prices he began receiving for his products through his partnership with Sonata Agri International, Edibo recorded an annual income of $1,710 (NGN750,000)—a 79% increase over the previous year.

Sumaila Edibo purchased a motorcycle to haul goods with his increased cashew earnings.

Edibo explained how the training program has benefitted farmers across Iyale, highlighting that the majority of local trainees have embarked on different projects throughout the community, such as building houses, launching new businesses, digging boreholes and installing grinding machines, with the additional revenue they acquired from the sale of cashew nuts. Edibo himself used his additional income to purchase a three-wheeled motorcycle with a trailer for hauling goods. This has enabled him to provide rural logistical services to farmers within and beyond his community, further increasing his earnings. Following the advice of a Sonata Agri International extension officer who provided training in partnership with PRO-Cashew in 2022, Edibo also saved $1,256 (NGN 550,000) of his cashew nut sales, which he used to sustain his family during the cashew off-season.

When asked about the impact of the training program on his livelihood, Edibo said, “Before participating in the project, transporting harvested goods from me and my friends’ farms was always a major challenge. We had to walk long distances, sometimes above three kilometers from our farms to our homes with heavy loads on our heads.”

Edibo plans to expand his farm to three hectares in 2023 using the new improved seedlings that the PRO-Cashew Project is distributing to farmers and nurseries. Next year, Edibo also hopes to help his wife start a small grocery business in the community.

Improving Post-Harvest Practices to Increase Cashew Farmers Income

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Salifa Yahaya is a farmer from Labaka-Oja, a small settlement in the Kwara State of Nigeria, where about 80% of the residents are cashew farmers. Despite the region’s climate and soil conditions being apt for farming raw cashew nuts, local producers face other issues that hinder their operations. More specifically, unfavorable market conditions as well as a lack of technology make it difficult to harvest large yields and produce high-quality cashew nuts to sell for higher prices. Despite managing a relatively large farm of 11 ha, this affected Yahaya.

To address these barriers, the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project (PRO-Cashew) collaborated with Sonata Nigeria formerly known as Huxley Nigeria, a company specializing in the processing and exporting of raw cashew nuts, to host a series of training sessions—one of which Yahaya attended. In this training, Yahaya and other local farmers learned new harvest and post-harvest practices to implement on their farms to produce better results. They were also trained in business operating techniques to make the most out of their improved cashew yields.

“I never thought I could get so much more money just by drying my cashew nuts,” she said. “I also never believed in keeping those little farm records and consistently saving small amounts of money until Sonata Nigeria trained us. I am so grateful I didn’t miss out.”

 

Applying the tools and trainings received from PRO-Cashew enabled Salifa Yahaya to diversify her income.

In the previous harvesting season, Yahaya was only able to collect 3.5 MT of raw cashew nuts due to many parts of her farm being inaccessible from orchard overgrowth. Applying pruning and management practices from the Sonata Nigeria training, Yahaya was able to improve her orchard’s conditions and collect larger and higher quality yields. This harvest season, she collected about 5 MT of raw cashew nuts. By drying the nuts, Yahaya was able to increase the quality of her product even further and sell for a higher price than she would have if the nuts were wet, earning about 7% more than her peers.

Before participating in Sonata Nigeria’s training, Yahaya did not approach her cashew production as a business, but rather as means to support just herself and her family. With a new business outlook, she now meticulously records production and sales figures, making it easier to re-invest into her enterprise and engage in other profitable activities. Yahaya also joined a savings group which allows her to allocate money toward other plans she may, following the recommendation of a Sonata Nigeria extension worker.

As part of the PRO-Cashew Agricultural Extension Grant program’s objective of establishing stronger supply chain linkages between producers and exporters, a grant was provided to Sonata Nigeria to continue supporting raw cashew nut producers with agricultural extension services. The grant also aims to enhance the local processing company’s supply chain and open doors for producers to find more selling opportunities.

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.

 

 

 

USAID Yalwa Supports Nigerien Entrepreneur to Turn Volunteering into A Successful Business

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Rahila Ali, a 35-year-old mother of five, has been a participant of the Feed the Future-funded USAID Yalwa Activity since 2019. A resident of the village of Kotaré in the Maradi region of Niger, Mrs. Ali took an interest in initiating income generating activities (IGAs) to support her community and help generate income for her family after her second pregnancy. In addition to her IGAs, Mrs. Ali has often volunteered to support projects in her locality. According to the chief of her village, “her patience and her developed interpersonal skills made her the ideal choice to support activities in our locality.” She has so far been an instructor for youth learning machine sewing and manual knitting, and a facilitator in awareness activities on sexual health for girls in her community.

Mrs. Ali, a participant of USAID Yalwa’s Women’s Self-Development and Empowerment training. Mrs. Ali has turned several of her volunteer activities into income-generating activities to further support herself and her family.

Mrs. Ali’s first IGA focused on weaving and selling children’s hats and outfits. She later invested in small ruminant breeding with one goat that she was able to buy with her savings. Benefiting from the diversity of her interventions with her peers, whose trust she had gained, Mrs. Ali invited her colleagues to set up a tontine- loan plan to support members and fund their initiatives. Mrs. Ali also helped create a cooperative with about 40 members, primarily women, called MISECO. The cooperative received training on millet, cowpea, sorghum and peanut production techniques and was provided seeds for cultivation. They produced crops for three years and participated in group sales, including to institutions such as the World Food Programme.

Mrs. Ali also participated in USAID Yalwa’s Women’s Self-Development and Empowerment training which allowed her to grow, share her experience and skills in farming and develop a personal action plan to strengthen her IGAs and increase her income. Mrs. Ali initially expanded her sheep and goat rearing activity, using the “Habanayé” model, where she rotated three goats to other women so that they could collect the kids. In this model, the first lamb is for the beneficiary women, and the second is reserved for Mrs. Ali, allowing the women to build up their herd while Mrs. Ali expands her own. She then invested in purchasing a grain mill which generated about $3 (2,000 FCFA) per day. The income from the activities developed with support from USAID Yalwa also allowed Mrs. Ali to strengthen her economic autonomy by diversifying her investments, such as developing her women and children’s clothing and accessory business with $72 (45,000 FCFA) of start-up capital, which she was able to increase to $643 (400,000 FCFA).

The profits from Mrs. Ali’s business also enabled her to buy a piece of land for $1,124 (700,000 FCFA) and to build a store with permanent materials for her goods for $1,044 (650,000 FCFA). Additionally, she highlighted that her IGAs helped her with “more ease to provide for the needs of my family, my parents and my community.” Indeed, Mrs. Ali recently financed the reconstruction of her father’s house with her funds and constructed a drinking water point that she made available to the neighboring women. Now, the women can get water for free, while Mrs. Ali collects used water and the bran from cereals and peanuts to feed her sheep—a sustainable solution for her business and for her community.

Collaboration with Local Credit Union Federation Improves Access to Credit for Producers in the Feed the Future RISE II Zone

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Access to finance is a major obstacle for rural producers who wish to invest in and strengthen their agribusinesses. Often, financial institutions consider agricultural sector financing to be highly risky and, as a result, offer few financial products to support smallholder producers.

To improve access to financing for cowpea, small ruminant and poultry value chain actors in the Centre-Nord, Est and Sahel regions of Burkina Faso, the Feed the Future-funded USAID Yidgiri Activity signed a partnership protocol with the Network of Popular Credit Unions of Burkina (RCPB) in November 2020. The partnership with RCPB, which is present in each of the Activity’s target regions and has many offices throughout the country, aims to build stronger relationships with producer organizations and ensure that farmers have improved access to credit.

In addition to strengthening access to finance, USAID Yidgiri collaborated with the USAID CATALYZE project’s financial facilitators to build the capacity of producers to apply for and receive funding. Together, they helped producer organizations develop and submit over 90 support plans, enabling them to negotiate their financing with the credit union network. To date, 14 cooperatives have received loans worth around $34,000 (approximately 18.75 million FCFA) to support their activities and grow their businesses.

The President of the Communal Union of Small Ruminant Producers of Boulsa, Sibdou Kabore, directing the animals to the sheepfold.

The communal union of small ruminant producers of Boulsa, chaired by Sibdou Kabore, was among those that received a credit loan. The union’s 12 women producers received around $7,500 (approximately 4.9 million FCFA) to conduct small ruminant fattening activities, which enabled them to acquire 96 sheep and feed for their livestock. With their first wave of fattened animals, they sold 34 sheep to local traders and delicatessens for a total of around $4,000 (approximately 2.6 million FCFA). With their second wave of fattened animals, they were able to sell 50 fattened sheep during the Tabaski celebration for a total of around $8,000 (approximately 5.3 million FCFA). Through these sales, the women will repay their loan on time and already plan to sell a third wave of fattened sheep  during other national holidays and end of year celebrations.

Sibdou Kaboré, one of the union’s producers, described her appreciation for the Activity and its support, enabling them to sustainably boost their business ventures. “Without the support of The Feed the Future-funded USAID Yidgiri Activity, my cooperative could not have accessed such a large loan amount,” she said. “Thanks to the training received from USAID Yidgiri on small ruminant production techniques and the manufacture of livestock feed, we are able to carry out this lucrative activity properly.”

Increased access to finance is essential for producers like Kaboré to boost their agribusinesses and participate in key markets. By supporting initiatives that break down the barriers restricting producers, the local economy benefits—through the likes of new inputs, technology and businesses linkages—and the market system grows more resilient.

 

USAID Yidgiri Facilitates Cowpea Farmers’ Access to New Markets

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To increase access to markets for cowpea producers, platforms are needed to build linkages between stakeholders across the cowpea value chain. With greater access to a range of inputs, the production process is made smoother, enabling producers to generate more profit from their goods as a result of higher quality and quantities. In Burkina Faso, the Feed the Future-funded USAID Yidgiri Activity supported the establishment of innovation platforms to help producers access new markets.

Innovation platforms are consultation frameworks that bring together stakeholders, such as cowpea producers, union leaders, input distributors and microfinance institutions to develop value chains, facilitating access to inputs and marketing. These are especially successful in connecting local producers with buyers.

Through an innovation platform meeting organized with the support of USAID Yidgiri in May 2022, the Provincial Union of Cooperatives of Cowpea Producers of Sanmatenga connected with Catholic Relief Services and agreed to deliver 84 tons of cowpea, worth a total of around $85,700 (approximately 57 million FCFA). By creating linkages like this in the cowpea supply chain, producer organizations can generate more resources for future agricultural campaigns and sell their products in higher quantity and quality.

Three members of the Provincial Union of Cowpea Producers of Sanmatenga stand in front of their cowpea stock.

Karfo Sawadogo, president of Wendkonta of Nagbingou, a communal union of simplified cooperatives, took part in one of these workshops. “I really appreciated this workshop because it allowed the groups present to get to know us better, to trust us and to help us reach a contract for the delivery of 50 tons of cowpeas at a price of approximately 706,000 FCFA per ton,” he said. This is the equivalent of $1,100 per ton.

For many union members, the innovation platforms are their first experience collaborating with international organizations, who typically offer a better price than what is offered on the market. “Thanks to this connection, we were able to quickly obtain a loan from Caisse Populaire to meet our expenses and respond to the call for tenders,” Sawadogo said.

Sawadogo expressed his appreciation for the workshops and hopes to attend more innovation platform meetings to continue building fruitful relationships that can improve the local cowpea value chain. In addition to supporting the cowpea value chain, USAID Yidigiri supports innovation platforms for the poultry and small ruminant value chains, hosting workshops in the Boulsa, Fada and Kaya communities.