Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity

Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity

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Côte D’Ivoire’s cocoa sector is valued at $3.58 billion annually. As the country’s number-one export and foreign exchange earner, it also represents more than one-third of the world’s cocoa supply. As a whole, the crop contributes to roughly 15 percent of the West African nation’s GDP.

Earnings from the cultivation and sale of cocoa support 3.5 million people in Côte d’Ivoire, including 600,000 smallholder farmers and their families. On average, these are producers who live on less than $2.00 per day and grow cocoa on small plots of between 2-5 ha with low or declining productivity.

These smallholder cocoa farmers have limited capacity to increase the amount of quality beans they can sell, which would otherwise be a viable means of increasing their income and improving their livelihoods. This is of great concern to the Government of Côte D’Ivoire, which is engaged in its own efforts to strengthen country-wide capacity to meet rising global demand and improve domestic processing operations. The Government currently maintains a goal of keeping 50% of cocoa processing in-country by 2020.

To support the cocoa sector in addressing these and other challenges, CNFA is implementing the three-year Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity (MOCA).

This $14.6 million United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food for Progress activity focuses on increasing the productivity and efficiency of actors in the cocoa value chain. It also seeks to expand the trade of cocoa and cocoa products by improving the quality of crops on existing Government-designated farmland, all towards boosting farmers’ incomes from these high-value commodities.

Program Approach

MOCA will increase the productivity and efficiency of actors in the cocoa value chain by strengthening the capacity of cooperatives/producer groups, research institutions, input suppliers, and processors of cocoa.

Activities to improve and expand the trade of cocoa and cocoa products will focus on improving the overall quality of the crop, the processing and post-harvest handling techniques, and strengthening of the market linkages and organization of groups towards more adequately meeting existing market demand.

These activities will occur primarily in the cocoa belt region of Côte d’Ivoire. The project will target several groups of beneficiaries — government research and regulatory bodies working in the cocoa value chain; cooperatives and producer groups; input service providers; processors;  financial service providers; mobile network operators (MNOs); transporters and other value chain service actors.

Supporting Producer Groups & Cooperatives

MOCA will support farmer cooperatives in areas including governance, management practices, human resources, financial management, service delivery, external relations with input and service suppliers and buyers, and sustainability.

Working with Government & Institutions

The project will support Government institutions to expand research and propagation of disease-resistant and improved cocoa seeds and seedlings, as well as increase farmer access to these enhanced inputs through MOCA’s grant mechanism and technical assistance facility.

Providing Business Development Services (BDS)

MOCA will deliver BDS support to cocoa processors and businesses in rural and urban areas. It will target entrepreneurs who are or who would like to launch businesses along the value chain in cocoa grinding and processing, value addition, and pooled transportation.

Facilitating Agricultural Lending

The project will partner with banks and micro-finance institutions (MFIs) to increasing producers’ access to and use of mobile money, insurance, and credit services, as well as to pilot new financial services such as crop insurance and innovative delivery channels for cash and in-kind credit.

In-Kind Grants for Equipment and Inputs

Competitive, in-kind matching grants to cooperatives, producers, input supply professionals, and processors throughout the cocoa value chain – in the form of inputs and equipment – will complement research and adoption of improved productivity and post-harvest handling practices.

Developing  Agrodealers & Input suppliers

MOCA will train and establish a network of “spray-service professionals” (SSPs) — mostly male youth engaged in cocoa productivity — who will provide affordable fee-based services, facilitated

by cooperatives, for other producers.

Training on Improved Production Techniques

MOCA will develop and lead a pilot program to regenerate plantations for cocoa producers (individuals) in the cocoa belt region, prioritizing applications from women and youth.

Facilitate Buyer-Seller Relationships

Finally, the project will improve market access by targeting support to unorganized farmers, associations, and cooperatives that do not currently have formal relationships with exporters and facilitate linkages with reputable cocoa processors and buyers.

Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestle Maize Quality Improvement Partnership

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The three-year Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestle Maize Quality Improvement Partnership will enhance the quality and safety of maize and soybeans available to Nestlé while supporting USAID’s goals of revitalizing Nigeria’s agriculture sector and improving health and nutrition along these cereal value chains.

Starting in June 2017 and scheduled to close in May 2020, the $1.9 million program will improve the agricultural practices of over 20,000 smallholder farmers—more than 8,000 of whom are women—in order to supply Nestlé with at least 11,000 MT of maize and 6,000 MT of soybeans that meet or exceed its grains-reception criteria. In doing so, the partnership will enhance relationships along both the maize and soybean supply chains, increase farmers’ sales of maize and soybeans, and improve the health of rural communities by promoting the consumption of safer products.

CNFA will work to leverage the strengths of its partners for the realization of a healthier and more food secure Nigeria by collaborating with education, research, and development partners, including Purdue University and the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA).

Program Approach:

CNFA will utilize a whole-of-supply-chain approach to enhance the quality, safety, and transparency of the Nestlé supply chain in alignment with its “shared value” approach.

The Partnership’s two main components are as follows:

  1. Capacity Building of Smallholder Farmer Suppliers: To catalyze better conduct and performance in the maize and soybean value chains in Kaduna State, our activities will focus on the three main stakeholder groups within the maize and soy supply chains: smallholder farmers, intermediaries, and input retailers. CNFA will design and deliver a customized Afla-GAP Training program for these key supply chain actors that increase knowledge and skills, alongside the catalyzation and facilitation of communications, relationship-building, and knowledge-sharing across complex groups of beneficiaries.
  2. Capacity Building of Local Organizations: With the support of the youth from the Nigeria Youth Service Corps program, M-QIP will catalog and map the many associations and cooperatives that play a role in improving the yield and product quality of smallholder farmers in the maize and soybean growing regions and along market routes, overlaying Nestlé current sourcing areas and storage networks to identify the organizations most useful to achieving M-QIP’s objectives. Through this process, CNFA will kick-start and sustain engagement with the M-QIP program with all stakeholders, including Nestlé corporate employees, farmers’ associations, government extension service providers, and community leaders.


Feed the Future Guinea Strengthening Agriculture Value Chains and Youth

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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.

Program Approach:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity

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In West Africa, CNFA adapts its result-driven model to execute the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA), an initiative by USAID’s Feed-the-Future program. Started in December 2015, LADA aims to increase incomes of smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs throughout Liberia. By close of the project in December 2020, our work will have expanded access to and use of agricultural inputs, improved post-harvest activities, and streamlined high-potential agricultural value chains.

CNFA will work with a variety of local and international partners to increase Liberian farmer’s incomes. Technology partners will design customized, mobile-based solutions to connect farmers, agro-dealers, and entrepreneurs, and will develop a web of market information and digital finance services (DFS). CNFA will work in tandem with the Business Start-Up Center Monrovia’s network to reach producers, agro-dealers, processors, marketers and investors. The Global Cold Chain Alliance will support LADA by exploring Liberia-appropriate cold chain technologies.

This consortium will leverage its core technologies, networks, and capabilities to provide innovative solutions to current problems.

Program Approach:

LADA uses a result-driven and sustainable approach to increase private sector investment in agricultural input systems, post-harvest handling, transport, and processing activities, and to strengthen the market environment with information, advocacy, and support. Our five main activities are:

  1. Making smallholders better-informed decision-makers for production, processing and marketing processes through value chain gap analyses. These will highlight potential interventions along the value chains with the greatest potential;
  2. Establishing 24 different aggregation clusters across the country: This process will focus on selecting appropriate agribusinesses, sustainable and transparent cooperatives, and established agro-dealers and then linking these actors together through specialized trainings and certifications;
  3. Training farmers with technical demonstrations, including choosing improved seed varieties, the timely application of fertilizer, assessing the quality of inputs, and meet-and-greets with local agro-dealers. Agro-dealers will be trained in the use of hand-held and mechanized seeders, deep placement of fertilizers, and mechanized technologies;
  4. Managing a credit guarantee facility to catalyze the extension of credit by supply companies and financial institutions to agro dealers by mitigating the high risk associated with agricultural lending. Another financial tool, the Agribusiness Investment Network (AIN), will be housed in BSC Monrovia, in order to provide a platform through which agricultural/agribusiness agents, NGO’s, and financial institutions can interact;
  5. Increasing access to market information and DFS: Enclude, a CNFA partner, will explore the development of a DFS product portfolio, delivery channels, and risk management mechanisms for LADA. Needs-based segmentation will then be used to cluster similar farmers around aggregators and to develop market-led financial products and delivery systems.  This activity will be intertwined with the AIN to provide a virtual platform to enhance network services.

Cross-cutting Issues:

  • CLA: The CLA approach ensures that learning accompanies implementation, best practices are identified and incorporated, synergies are maximized, promising new approaches are tested, and that all levels of experience and learning are shared;
  • Youth: LADA will target youth in the project’s agro-dealer development interventions and will link smallholder farming youth groups to aggregators and buyers;
  • Gender: CNFA will employ a full-time Gender Specialist to map gender roles within the targeted value chains, with a focus on the decision-making power of women and men, ascertain gender roles, and examine issues related to women’s time, workloads, access to information and control over resources;
  • Social Capital: Building trust and collaboration, two drivers of social and economic development, is a CNFA priority for LADA. Our focus will be developing men, women, and youth as producers, suppliers, processors, and other agribusiness owners along the value chains.

The LADA team anticipates substantial developments in the project. For more information, please contact

Georgia Hazelnut Improvement Project

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The Georgia Hazelnut Improvement Project (G-HIP) is a five-year Global Development Alliance (GDA), implemented by USAID, Ferrero, and CNFA. This dynamic approach to development leverages the technical and financial resources of each partner to increase sustainable capacity and broaden, deepen, and advance public and private sector development of the hazelnut industry in Georgia.

Hazelnuts are a major agricultural product for Georgia, representing Georgia’s largest agricultural export by value. Currently, Georgia is the fourth largest producer of hazelnuts worldwide, and supports the livelihoods of more than 50,000 growers and 30 processors. Yet, due to inconsistent quality and lack of market distinction, Georgian hazelnuts often sell at a discount to neighboring Turkish hazelnuts, resulting in lower prices and reduced profitability.

The Alliance will transform and streamline the hazelnut value chain where mutual interests in the quality production of hazelnuts will incentivize growers and processors to produce and export high quality “Georgian” hazelnuts. The vision for G-HIP is that by 2020, the Alliance will have supported the hazelnut value chain to establish two sustainable associations that assist growers and processors in exporting high quality, dried, traceable hazelnuts that sell at a premium to international buyers, improving the economic livelihoods of more than 50,000 hazelnut growers.

Program Approach:

  1. Association Development: Training and capacity building will serve as the lynchpin of all G-HIP activities. Through organizational management, production and post-harvest training for  the Georgian Hazelnut Growers Association (GHGA) and the Hazelnut Exporters and Processors Association (HEPA), and technical training for husking/drying/storage (HDS) operators, G-HIP will strengthen the capacity of the existing infrastructure and maximize impact in the sector.
  2. Increased Productivity and Competitiveness, Post-harvest Handling: Many farmers have traditionally been paid based on the weight of their harvest. As a result, inefficient incentives exist for farmers to harvest their crop early when the hazelnuts are moist and heavier in weight, even though this is detrimental to the quality of the harvest. G-HIP will implement a number of activities to mitigate inefficient value chain dynamics including the introduction of a post-harvest quality incentive system, technology upgrades to post-harvest  infrastructure,  as well as improving access to finance for value chain stakeholders. G-HIP will also assist GHGA to conduct trainings for its members in production technology, improve current soil testing activities for producers, and support improved access to finance for producers’ input purchases.
  3. Infrastructure Development and Marketing: To expand export marketing opportunities for Georgian hazelnuts, GHGA has already initiated several efforts to improve traceability and widen the use of soil testing to enhance hazelnut quality along the value chain. This includes the use of traceability software to track real-time production data of its grower members which is linked with increased adoption of soil testing to enhance the productivity of hazelnut growers. G-HIP will expand the use of state-of-the-art traceability software for GHGA and its members and utilize the same software to track data obtained through soil testing. G-HIP will seek to link hazelnut processors directly to GHGA grower groups, working with GHGA and HEPA to conduct Business to Business (B2B) forums, facilitating linkages and improving growers’ knowledge of market requirements. These B2B events will also be used as a forum to  provide targeted training  on traceability and quality-based pricing systems, as well as to introduce growers and processors to sources of commercial finance.

The Alliance anticipates substantial developments in the hazelnut sector in Georgia. For more information, please contact the team at

Ferrero combo

Feed the Future Egypt Food Security and Agribusiness Support

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CNFA implements the Feed the Future Egypt Food Security and Agribusiness Support project funded by USAID through the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA), scheduled to end in 2020. The project increases incomes and improves food security for at least 14,000 Upper Egyptian smallholder farmers across seven focal governorates – including Beni-Suef, Menia, Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, and Aswan.

Over the course of five years, the project will demonstrate that it is economically and socially feasible to achieve sustained growth in the region through an agricultural value chain approach. This approach will improve horticulture productivity, access to markets, value-adding activities, and commercial linkages with input and service suppliers. Inclusive growth in the agricultural sector will increase incomes to smallholder farmers, leading to improved health and educational opportunities for women and youth as well as higher household purchasing power.

The market-driven approach of the project is supported by four interrelated components: 1) improved on-farm production, 2) more efficient post-harvest processes, 3) improved marketing of agriculture crops and products, and 4) improved nutritional status, especially for women and children.  In addition to the major components, there are also a number of supporting cross cutting themes including systems strengthening for input suppliers; agriculture processors and support services; a focus on end markets and demand; an understanding of the role of value chain governance; a market systems perspective; recognition of the importance of inter-firm relationships and stakeholder participation; policy and enabling environment; gender inclusivity; and leveraging proven ICT capabilities to bring interventions to scale.

Expected Impact

  • $5.75 million in matching grants disbursed leveraging at least $2.6 million in private matching investment
  • A 12% annualized increase in incomes in net present value for over 14,000 horticulture-based smallholder farmers
  • Up to 50% of increased yields of selected horticulture crops
  • The introduction of 350 new contracts between horticulture smallholder farmers and market channels
  • More than $1.5 million of new investment in women-owned agribusinesses and more than 50 Upper Egyptian agribusinesses adopting policies that promote inclusion of married women in the workplace
  • Upwards of 36,000 farm families benefiting from nutrition-sensitive messaging

Check Back for Future Updates

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Over the past 30 years, we have led or played a role in agricultural development initiatives valued at more than $580 million in 43 countries. That’s a lot of impact to cover! We’re still working on assembling information on some of our past and current programs. Please check back soon!

Agrodealer Strengthening Program

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CNFA returned to the birthplace of our widely respected agrodealer model, which was first developed in Zimbabwe from 2000 to 2005, and has since been 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 agrodealers covering much of the country. Under the 18 month Agrodealer Strengthening Program (ASP-Z), our central aim was to revitalize and create a more robust network of agrodealers through which improved inputs and technology could flow to rural smallholder farmers, thereby increasing agricultural production and improving rural livelihoods. ASP-Z accomplished far more; it 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, Midlands, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.

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 agrodealers, 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 agrodealers and increased rural access to finance through guarantee and matching grants facilities;
  4. Created sustainable agrodealer associations to advocate for member interests.

ASPZ trained agrodealers in business management as well as technical training on new varieties, production technologies, and the safe use, handling and storage of fertilizers and crop protection products. We worked with agrodealers, input supply companies, and research institutions to stimulate farmer adoption of new varieties, inputs, and production practices through demonstration plots and farmer field days. Further, ASPZ stimulated investment in and lending to agrodealers, through the targeted use of a guarantee facility (GF). Lastly, ASPZ created sustainable agrodealer associations to address common concerns and advocate for member interests.

Program Impact:

  • 274 Agrodealers that completed business management training, of which 117 (46%) were women;
  • 82,921 Households with improved access to quality agricultural inputs;
  • 17,664 Farmers trained in best practice planting, cultivation, and harvesting techniques;
  • $1.2 million in trade credit leveraged in one season, providing 63 agrodealers with inputs on credit or consignment.

West Africa Seed Alliance

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Access to inputs such as improved seed varieties, fertilizer and crop protection products are imperative to the transformation of the agricultural sector. The Seeds Project, part of the West Africa Seed Alliance (WASA), was created to enable the transformation of West African agriculture from subsistence farming to profitable, self-sustaining and competitive commercial agriculture. CNFA implemented the five-year project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), with partners ICRISAT 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. Specifically, The Seeds Project strengthened West Africa’s seed system across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, and Senegal.

Program Approach:

  • Advance the development and implementation of national seed laws and regulations;
  • Create and strengthen private seed enterprises;
  • Provide business management and technical trainings;
  • Produce foundation for certified seed and make available for distribution;
  • Conduct seed variety trials for cereals and vegetables.

Business Management Training: The Agrodealer Business Training Program built the business capacity of local seed company managers through training on business planning, supply chain management, and marketing. Our six-module training model included: managing working capital, managing stocks, costing and pricing, selling and marketing, record keeping, and managing business relationships.

Agricultural Productivity: The WASA program 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 program has made significant impacts on production practices throughout WASA countries. Field days were an effective medium in spreading awareness of improved farming methods. With participants spanning from local farmers and agrodealers to government officials and major supply companies, the input system in target countries have seen marked improvement.

Seed and Input Supply systems: WASA aimed to develop viable agricultural inputs systems and support the overall growth of the West Africa agricultural sector by creating a sustainable commercial seed industry that ensures small-scale farmers affordable, timely and reliable access to high quality seeds and planting materials. In cooperation with input supply companies, WASA organized demonstration plots and farmer field days to enhance awareness about new products and technologies.

Technical Training: CNFA worked through input-supply companies and commercial trainers to build capacity on safe usage and handling of products. To complement these trainings, WASA also organizes demonstration plots and farmer field days to enhance awareness about new products and technologies. Field demos provided an excellent educational tool to teach both agrodealers and farmers about new varieties and correct herbicide and fertilizer application.

Output Marketing: WASA linked agrodealers and farmer producer groups to commodity traders and crop processors to create market pull for farmer production, and assisted seed companies and associations in establishing seed marketing strategies.

Program Impact:

  • 16,218 individuals received short-term agriculture sector productivity training;
  • 1,703 agriculture-related firms benefitting directly from WASA interventions;
  • 108 extension agents trained;
  • 26 seed inspectors/breeders trained.