In late 2016, Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) and USAID formally launched the Feed the Future Strengthening Agriculture Value Chains and Youth (SAVY) Program in Guinea.
SAVY aims to improve input supply services, increase financial inclusion, and facilitate thriving markets, while building the capacity of the next generation of Guinean agro-entrepreneurs to sustain a commercialized, productive, and profitable agriculture sector. Our work will facilitate improved agricultural inputs and credit tools, and increased market information and flows along the rice, horticulture, and livestock value chains in Guinea.
To achieve program results and maximize impact and reach, CNFA will collaborate with the Strengthening Market-led Agricultural Research, Technology, and Education (SMARTE) program implemented by Winrock International (Winrock). Together, these programs will implement complementary activities, manage the AVENIR program (see program approach below), and report on identical indicators. CNFA will work with a variety of local and international partners to increase program successes. World Food Logistics Organization (WFLO), as an implementing partner, will carry out the initial assessment of slaughterhouses and cold chain warehouses in the program’s Zones of Influence (ZOI). Enclude Inc. will conduct an assessment of Guinea’s financial sector, focusing on the availability of and demand for agricultural lending products, supply of financial products and services, and information and communication technologies (ICT) applications to financial services.
This consortium will leverage its core technologies, networks, and capabilities to provide innovative solutions to current problems.
CNFA and Winrock have designed the AVENIR program as the core of SAVY and SMARTE activities. It will prepare entrepreneurial and ambitious young men and women to become successful entrepreneurs and change agents in a competitive agricultural sector characterized by strong, market-driven value chains and inclusive economic growth. SAVY will embed youth with private-sector hosts for 8 months of mentoring and on-the-job training: businesses and organizations, such as input suppliers and other agribusinesses along the length of the value chains targeted by USAID; farmers’ unions and confederations, finance institutions, and mobile network operators. In turn, these hosts will benefit from the free labor and services that youth provide, as well as from the short-term technical assistance (STTA) of SAVY staff and F2F volunteer consultants. The trainees will complete capstone projects that are eligible for prizes at the end of each cohort. Award ceremonies will promote linkages with partners, investors, and employers, and will potentially contribute to launching and scaling new agribusinesses.
CNFA will adopt its agrodealer certification model to Guinea. This mechanism has proven itself capable of creating strong networks of agrodealers that improve access to and use of quality inputs, and advocate for agricultural policies in their common interest. In addition, it promotes better business management skills and takes a facilitative approach by training agrodealers as trainers of trainers to become leaders and models for their communities.
These and all other program activities rest on four pillars: human and institutional capacity development (HICD), a focus on entrepreneurship; women’s empowerment; and collaboration. In addition, CNFA proposes a geographically tailored approach to implementation in two corridors within the FTF ZOI. Activities that improve supply services, enable financial inclusion, and facilitate markets will build out from more developed commercial systems and farming structures in the Kindia–Mamou–Labé corridor, and will focus on production-level support and new private-sector investments in the less developed and commercialized Mamou–Faranah corridor.
Four Pillars of the SAVY Program:
- Human and Institutional Capacity Development (HICD). The project will develop and deliver a range of trainings that support SAVY activities. The AVENIR program will engage the private sector and agricultural organizations in building the capacity of young entrepreneurs, while project staff, F2F volunteers consultants, and trainees provide HICD services that strengthen business plans, financial statements, credit applications, and inventory systems, and advance more efficient and competitive input supply, production, aggregation, post-harvest handling, storage, processing, marketing, and other value-chain activities.
- A Focus on Entrepreneurship. Guinea’s agricultural sector has relied on government handouts or subsidized products that distort the market and prevent competitiveness. Instead, SAVY will focus on the private sector and entrepreneurship as drivers of sustained economic growth. Activities aim to increase positive risk-taking; increase use of mobile money and access to and use of affordable credit tools; and facilitate new market linkages
- Women’s Empowerment. SAVY activities will reflect the seminal role of women in the sector, particularly in horticulture and livestock value chains, and in processing and market activities. The project will work to mitigate additional constraints faced by women and female youth, such as limited access to and understanding of credit, heavier work burdens, and limited ability to make decisions about agricultural production, expenditures, and division of land parcels.
- Collaboration. CNFA will collaborate closely with the SMARTE program, particularly on the training and management of Guinea youth and on monitoring and evaluation (M&E). The project will collaborate with the U.S. Peace Corps, where feasible, with its current and former volunteers, and with a large number of local actors, including agribusinesses, farmer organizations, and financial service providers. Activities will leverage Africa Lead II as well as policy and nutrition projects funded by USAID and other donors, and will build on successes and lessons learned—for example, the efforts of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to strengthen input supply, producer organizations, and financial services for the agriculture sector. With USAID approval, SAVY will establish a shared website with SMARTE to promote wider information sharing, collaboration, and recruitment of trainees.