Agrodealer Strengthening Program

Agrodealer Strengthening Program

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Overview:

CNFA returned to the birthplace of its widely respected agro-dealer model, first developed in Zimbabwe from 2000 to 2005 and since successfully implemented in Kenya, Malawi, Mali, and Tanzania. When CNFA closed out its program in Zimbabwe in 2005, it had built a network of 1,030 trained agro-dealers covering much of the country. The 18-month Agro-dealer Strengthening Program (ASP-Z) aimed to revitalize and create a more robust network of agro-dealers through which improved inputs and technology could flow to rural smallholder farmers, increasing agricultural production and improving rural livelihoods. ASP-Z laid the framework for a vibrant input supply sector, which created jobs, improved livelihoods, and brought food security to thousands of individuals, bolstering rural economies throughout the provinces of Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, and Midlands.

Program Approach:

  1. Provided training in business management, as well as technical training on new crop varieties, production technologies, and the safe use, handling, and storage of fertilizers and crop protection products;
  2. Worked with agro-dealers, input suppliers, and research institutions to stimulate demand for improved inputs and production practices through demonstration plots and farmer field days;
  3. Stimulated investment in agro-dealers and increased rural access to finance through guarantee and matching grants facilities;
  4. Created sustainable agro-dealer associations to advocate for member interests.

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.

Access to Mechanization Project

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Overview:

Through the three-year, USAID-funded Access to Mechanization Project (AMP), CNFA used a commercially sustainable and market-oriented methodology to develop machinery service providers across Georgia. Building on its existing nationwide presence, AMP combined matching investments, commercial finance, and technical training to establish Machinery Service Centers (MSCs) and provide custom machinery services to small farmers.

Program Approach:

  • Provided technical assistance to MSCs using local consultants and Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteers to ensure sustainable operation and long-term availability of services for farmers;
  • Improved the competitive environment for machinery services by reducing the cost to farmers as a result of increased supply of machinery and service businesses;
  • Leveraged grant funds with local partner matching investment, including large-scale involvement of commercial finance to maximize impact and investment in the rural economy.

Ongoing support from CNFA Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteers was an integral part of our approach to implementing AMP. A total of 25 volunteer assignments, focused primarily on conducting various types of trainings, were completed during the program:

  • Business Management Training Sessions: F2F volunteers conducted a wide array of trainings on business management. With the assistance of the AMP Training Coordinator, volunteers selected local trainers, finalized business and extension training topics, and developed standardized training materials for dissemination;
  • Financial and Credit Trainings: F2F volunteers led basic financial trainings for AMP’s farmers on credit lending, record-keeping, and risk assessment, which were especially useful for farmer clients looking to better understand their budgets and recognize when they could rent equipment from MSCs;
  • Environment Trainings: AMP organized volunteer-led trainings focused on environmentally friendly agricultural practices for MSC owners and trainers of a local extension training provider consortium. Training was conducted on irrigation and drainage systems, pest and disease control, technologies of land cultivation, and agricultural mechanization;
  • Marketing and Communications Support: AMP fielded volunteers to help develop communications and marketing strategies for MSC owners, demonstrating the services they could offer. Additionally, volunteers worked with the Georgian Public Broadcaster in designing the format of the Agricultural TV show “Farmer’s Day” and created a full-scale business plan to facilitate the funding of the show.

Farmer-to-Farmer: Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia

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Overview:

The five-year John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer program in Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia, funded through USAID, focused on select agricultural value chains, identifying needs at every level from production to marketing.

From 2008 to 2014, CNFA sent more than 340 volunteers focusing on fruits and vegetables, dairy, and livestock value chains to Belarus, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

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. The volunteers are experts in their fields and represent all ages and industries as 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.

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.

Commercial Farm Service Program

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Overview:

CNFA implemented the Commercial Farm Service Program (CFSP) (2012-2014), a two-year project funded by USAID’s Innovation Fund for Ethiopian Agriculture (IFEA), adapting its proven Farm Service Center (FSC) model to the Ethiopian context for the first time. By establishing FSCs as “one-stop shops” in their communities, entrepreneurs provided a complete range of inputs, services, information and output marketing linkages to Ethiopian smallholders. This model continues to support farmers in making the transition from subsistence to commercial production as part of the Feed the Future Farm Service Center Program, launched in 2015.

Program Approach:

Through mentoring and training, the program has provided these locally-owned businesses with uniform branding, technical and business management training, expert agronomic and veterinary consultations and assistance with inventory management, marketing and agriculture extension and outreach. In support of the wholesale buying cooperative, CFSP staff worked with the FSC-owners and operators to legally establish and register a joint venture named EGAA Agricultural Input Supply PLC.

  1. Established six locally owned retail farm supply and service locations (FSCs) with inventories, training, services and output market linkages;
  2. Created a wholesale buying cooperative, owned by and dedicated to serving the inventory needs of the FSCs and linking them to national and international suppliers;
  3. Delivered uniform branding, business skills, technical/advisory capacity, quality standards and environmental and worker safety procedures across the network;
  4. Promoted FSC-led farmer outreach activities, including training seminars, demonstration plots and field days to showcase the impacts of improved inputs and improve farmer production skills.

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. The program bolstered economic growth, created employment opportunities, and amplified the competitiveness of horticulture and livestock value chains. TAP also increased the effectiveness of smallholder enterprises and 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, environmental, and information management systems and procedures, as wel as provided technical assistance for development of horticulture and livestock value chains.

Program Approach:

  • Provided technical assistance and capacity building training to farmers, associations, and agribusiness enterprises across the target value chains;
  • Offered customized cost-sharing grant products across the key value chains;
  • Provided international support for agricultural marketing and brand development to identify and capitalize on high-price market opportunities and develop market linkages;
  • Established several Value Chain Platforms to promote the development of specific subsectors and create linkages between the stakeholders involved in the 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 M&E systems.

Environmental Compliance: CNFA helped ensure that the project and its associated grant activities were in compliance with USAID environmental regulations. This cooperative effort drew on CNFA’s experience in knowledge management, compliance, M&E studies, and reporting any adverse environmental impact 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 to 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, processor, market agents, and service providers;
  • Located exact locations of project beneficiaries and grantees.

The CNFA team 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 also supported the Agribusiness Project in its development, maintenance, and transfer of M&E and IT systems for impact assessment and reporting to a web-based, integrated management information system (IMIS). This system automated the functions of HR, 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.

Amalima

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Overview:

Amalima, a seven-year $60 million USAID Development Food Aid Program (DFAP) (2013-2020), worked with over 118,00 vulnerable households to sustainably improve household food security and nutrition in Zimbabwe’s districts of Bulilima, Gwanda, Mangwe (Matabeleland South) and Tsholotsho (Matabeleland North).

Amalima draws its name from the Ndebele word for the social contract by which families come together to help each other engage in productive activities such as land cultivation, livestock tending and asset building.

Program Approach:

  1. Improved Sustainable Access to and Availability of Food: Amalima promoted climate and conservation-sensitive agriculture practices and encouraged the adoption of improved agriculture and livestock production practices.
  2. Strengthened Community Resilience to Shocks: Amalima partnered with communities to improve livelihoods and build resilience by creating and strengthening disaster risk reduction (DRR) committees through cash for asset activities, household asset vouchers and village savings and lending (VS&L) groups that promoted income generating activities and savings to build household resiliency.
  3. Improved Nutrition and Health: Amalima improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices, dietary diversity and micronutrient intake of pregnant and lactating women and children under two by distributing supplementary feeding rations and enhancing nutrition care practices with a combination of capacity building, mentoring and community-based messaging delivered through care groups and community health clubs.
  4. Promoted Gender Equality: Amalima empowered women to play a key role in food security and resiliency at the household and community levels through increased access to and control over incomes, while promoting men and women to take increasingly equal responsibilities for both productive and reproductive activities.

Partners:

  • Organization of Rural Associations for Progress
  • Dabane
  • International Medical Corps
  • Africare
  • Manoff Group

Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth

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Overview:

The USAID Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth (REGIS-AG) program (2015-2020) is designed to increase incomes of vulnerable households by improving the performance and inclusiveness of the cowpea, poultry, and small ruminant value chains. Implemented in Niger and Burkina Faso, REGIS-AG is one of many projects operating under USAID’s Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) initiative, supported by a consortium of partners and led by CNFA.

Program Approach:

  1. Resilience to Environmental, Security, and Economic Shocks: A key function of the project is to improve community resistance to shocks by sustainably rehabilitating markets, facilitating village-savings programs, and improving access to shared and household assets along three value chains: cowpea, poultry, and small ruminants;
  2. Facilitation Approach to Catalyzing Market Systems: REGIS-AG uses a “facilitation approach” that aims to improve the function of markets and create sustainable change without becoming embedded in the system. REGIS-AG also aims to identify opportunities through value chain and end-market analysis, and to strengthen relationships across its value chains;
  3. Strengthen Input Supply and Other Supporting Services to Improve Smallholder and Agro-pastoralist Access to Interconnected Markets: CNFA concentrates on improving the delivery of and access to veterinary services and feed provision centers for poultry and small ruminants, and improving the supply of agricultural inputs for cowpeas with a specific emphasis on Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) bags for improved storage practices;
  4. Increase Access to Finance, Innovation, and Private Sector Investments: REGIS-AG works with private sector investments to design and market financial products that will expand access to services, particularly for women. It also works to improve the enabling environment for local and regional private sector investment by building the trust between value chain actors and increasing their voice at the policy level;
  5. Gender and Women’s Empowerment: REGIS-AG employs a comprehensive approach to engage both men and women in overcoming structural biases and barriers in the three target value chains through education and integration into the formal market economy.

Partners:

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Association Nigérienne pour la Dynamisation des Initiatives Locales (Karkara), Association for Catalyzing Pastoral Development in Niger (AREN), Association Nodde Nooto (A2N), and the Association pour la Gestion de l’Environnement et le Développement (AGED).