Agrodealer Strengthening Program for Mali
Partnering with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), CNFA implemented the three-year Agro-dealer Strengthening Program for Mali (ASP-M) to increase rural incomes and reduce poverty by transforming Mali’s underdeveloped input distribution practices into a more efficient, commercially viable input supply system. ASP-M strengthened Malian agro-dealers by providing training in business management and productive farming methods and increased farmer access to agro-dealers in remote areas, ultimately raising rural incomes and increasing household productivity. In order to transform Mali’s agro-dealer network sustainably, our team implemented a methodical four-step approach.
- Built Agro-dealer Capacity to Serve Farmers: ASP-M developed and implemented activities including business management training, training in product knowledge, and safe use of chemicals and fertilizers. The program also increased market demand for improved inputs through demonstration plots, exhibitions, and farmer field days.
- Improved Rural Access to Finance: To complement stronger business and technical expertise of program trainees, CNFA worked to improve agro-dealers’ access to finance, creating guarantee facilities to stimulate access to trade credit and capital, developing agricultural lending training for commercial banks and microfinance institutions, building targeted agricultural lending products, and introducing competitive matching grants to spur private sector investment.
- Connected Farmers to Markets: With better financing in place, the program focused on smallholder farmer access to larger markets for distribution of their products. CNFA worked with agro-dealers to develop and deliver basic output marketing training in order to increase farmer awareness of market opportunities and to help link them to existing market channels.
- Advanced Agricultural Policy Advocacy: The last component of ASP-M focused on improving channels for a sustainable public-private policy dialogue. CNFA maintained a leadership role in the policy arena, shaping Malian agricultural policy to promote the interests of private sector growth and of the rural smallholder. CNFA also supported the growth of the Agro-dealers National Union in Mali (UNRIA-Mali), which received an endorsement from former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan after he visited the project in August 2010.
To ensure the successful operation of UNRIA, CNFA provided training on organizational management, member services, networking, and advocacy capacity building. This last component of ASP-M ensured that the program would be self-sustaining and bring increased business for agro-dealers and higher incomes for smallholder farmers.