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

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.

Zaytun

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Overview:

CNFA implemented the two-year, $3.2 million Zaytun Project to strengthen strategic components of the table olive and olive oil value chains in the regions of Nubaria and Matrouh through the delivery of targeted technical assistance to small and medium Egyptian olive processors and training with complimentary grants-matching assistance to smallholder olive farmers.

Working with local partners like the Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI) and the Egyptian Olive Council, the Zaytun Project addressed short-term problems that olive producers and processors face, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable development. In collaboration with these partners, CNFA designed a strong, value-chain-based program that strengthened production and post-harvest practices of olive farmers, delivered technical assistance and training to small and medium-sized table olive oil and olive oil processors, and facilitated business linkages between supported olive grower’s associations and processors. Through various policy initiatives, the Zaytun Project increased expansion into higher-value export markets and improved the reputation and image of the Egyptian olive industry.

The Zaytun Project also brought Egyptian olive oil to the international stage. In collaboration with the Chamber of Food Industry, the Zaytun Project developed an olive industry website to increase exposure of the Egyptian olive sector. The success of project-sponsored processors at an international olive oil competition marked an important step in establishing the reputation of Egyptian olive oil internationally, as well as introducing a new identity of Egyptian olive oil on the international market. After this success in 2013, it is likely new categories will be created for North African olive oils in next year’s competition.

Program Approach:

  • Strengthened smallholder olive producers through assistance to improve their production practices and post-harvest handling, and organized them into viable growers associations;
  • Strengthened olive processors through technical assistance to improve quality and engaged in value addition that led to increased exports, profits and employment;
  • Facilitated producer-processor linkages through the creation of direct linkages between growers and processors, resulting in improved olive supply, strengthened commercial relations and increased sales and incomes for producers and processors.

Strengthened Producers: The Zaytun Project orchestrated intensive training, technical assistance, association development, and study tour activities to educate olive producers on best practice techniques. The core training activity was a Farm Field School (FFS) training program, where a tiered design allowed the lessons of a few technical specialists to reach thousands of olive farmers. The Project compiled a manual in Arabic and English to ensure these experts could carry lessons into future training programs. Additionally, the Zaytun Project awarded four 1:1 grants to farmers’ associations that resulted in the creation and upgrade of several micro-processing units for pickling olives, as well as the funding for two composting projects. Finally, the Zaytun Project facilitated a study tour in Italy to further strengthen farm management and collective marketing of olives.

Strengthened Processors: After an intensive selection phase, the Zaytun Project chose 15 processor companies to participate in a series of technical assistance, training, and trade show activities. Two international experts served as consultants for these processors and directly addressed the individual obstacles facing each business. An additional marketing consultant was hired to assess production and marketing of olive products, provide marketing advice, and collect oil samples for entrance into an international competition. The Zaytun Project compiled a manual to ensure the advice of the consultants could be preserved and easily distributed and a supplementary training session on agro-finance was organized with four Egyptian banks that resulted in the creation of the first working capital loan projects for the olive sector in the country. Through targeted training and technical assistance, the Zaytun Project fortified the techniques and opportunities of Egyptian olive processing companies.

Strengthened Market Linkages: The Zaytun Project hosted a total of four market linkage workshops to bring together olive producers and processors. CNFA worked directly with producer and processor representatives, with the objective of facilitating business linkages between Egyptian olive farmers and processors.

Chinyanja Triangle Soil Fertility Project

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Overview:

As part of the Rural Livelihoods Diversified Activity – Soil Fertility (RLDA-SF) consortium, CNFA promoted the development of private sector networks of agro-dealers to commercialize agricultural inputs distribution in Southern Africa. Through the organization’s Malawi affiliate, Rural Market Development Trust (RUMARK), CNFA designed and implemented this program to expand the agricultural input distribution system, increase the flow of inputs to smallholder farmers, and increase production and incomes in the Malawi and Mozambique region of “Chinyanja Triangle.”

Program Approach:

  • Build business capacity of agro-dealers and link agro-dealers with supply;
  • Demonstrate new technologies to targeted beneficiaries;
  • Conduct training in product use;
  • Train a cadre of professional trainers.

Information and Knowledge Management: CNFA held training sessions on product knowledge and handling, equipping agro-dealers with knowledge and skills on how to handle inputs such as seed, fertilizers, and chemicals. The program increased agro-dealers’ awareness of the Government of Mozambique’s policies on use and marketing of agrochemicals (pesticides) and their relevance to business practices, and informed agro-dealers on the issues and challenges associated with developing linkages with supply companies. RLDA-SF also improved agro-dealers’ knowledge on area-specific fertilizers.

CNFA integrated specific “Demand Creation on Fertilizer Use and Efficiency” (FUE) courses into the program, enabling agro-dealers to more effectively promote their products. Demand creation activities, such as demonstration plots, also provided agro-dealers with marketing tools to promote their stocks to farmers.

Market Facilitation & Input Supply System Development: CNFA led business management training courses to build and improve management practices for retail agricultural enterprises. This enabled local agro-dealers to play a more pivotal role in creating a more efficient distribution system for channeling agricultural inputs to Mozambique’s smallholder farmers.

CNFA/RUMARK collaborated with input supply companies to expand their reach within the geographic area of Mozambique inside the Chinyanja Triangle. Three supply companies participated in CNFA-led meetings regarding the mobilization of supply company credit for trained agro-dealers or agro-dealer associations.

Over the course of the project, the program equipped commercial trainers with skills that would enable them to be effective trainers of agro-dealers. Thirteen trainers are now able to offer business management training to new agro-dealer clientele.

Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan

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Overview:

Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan (FAIDA) was a three-year USAID-funded project that assisted the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the private sector in developing legal framework and improved market infrastructure. As a result of program activities, financial sector institutions and their business partners were better able to create value, providing growth and employment opportunities for Afghans.

Agriculture is the most common source of income for citizens in Afghanistan. Accordingly, FAIDA focused on agribusiness growth to provide the economic stability necessary to expand the job market in rural areas. Working under subcontract with Chemonics International, CNFA handled micro-level activities to expand the depth and reach of Afghanistan’s financial sector to agricultural value chains and underserved MSMEs.

Program Approach:

  • Access to Credit for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs):CNFA’s Enterprise Component focused on two central objectives: the facilitation of access to business loans for Afghan enterprises and entrepreneurs by providing technical assistance, including drafting business plans and gathering loan underwriting documents; as well as providing assistance to banks in recruiting and training loan officers in newly developed Shariah-compliant loan products.
  • Access to Finance (A2F) Fair in Kabul: CNFA facilitated the organization of FAIDA’s first Access to Finance (A2F) Fair in Kabul in 2012. Over 40 financial institutions, including banks, microfinance institutions, insurance companies, and telecommunications and business support services, exhibited their products and services to over 1,500 Afghan firms and visitors. The event hosted workshops on topics such as Access to Finance for Women, Construction Finance, Trade Finance, Leasing, and Insurance;
  • Agriculture Value Chain Financing Opportunities:CNFA laid the groundwork to complete the following under FAIDA Ag-extension:
    • Assisted the Afghan National Seed Organization (ANSOR) to develop an Islamic loan product to extend to approximately 40 of its 100 members who wanted to access Sharia-compliant loans, and to increase the size and number of its conventional loans;
    • Assisted seven women’s cooperatives that were pre-selected by the MAIL, UNDP, and ACE to develop business plans and loan applications for the expansion of their existing enterprises;
    • Examined the feasibility of and facilitated lending for the establishment of grain storage facilities utilizing a warehouse receipt system, to stabilize the supply and price of basic grain throughout the year;
    • Provided Sharia-compliant lending to poultry feed millers to purchase ingredients, manufacture feed, and provide it on credit to broiler producers.
  • Access to Finance through Farm Service Center Association of Afghanistan (FSCAA):CNFA facilitated the creation of the FSCAA in 2009 under the USAID Afghanistan Farm Service Alliance (AFSA) to serve as an apex organization. The FSCAA drove expansion and enhancement of a network of FSC stores and improved commercial input supply infrastructure in Afghanistan, and gained a unique opportunity to strengthen its national presence and play a vital role in the development of the agricultural sector. FAIDA’s initiatives focused on ensuring the FSCAA’s financial sustainability and building a strong association that offered professional and technical services to its 25 agribusiness members;
  • Promoting Bank Credit through Associations:CNFA identified agriculture, construction, and carpet as sectors that would best benefit from FAIDA activities. FAIDA worked with the Afghan Builders Association, Kabul Chambers of Commerce, agriculture cooperatives, and associations, such as the FSCAA, to facilitate bank lending and ensured their capability of advising members on methods to acquire bank credit;
  • Incorporating Gender Equity:FAIDA provided targeted business development training and mobile money activities for Afghan women. CNFA’s Enterprise Component promoted loans to women entrepreneurs through the release of requests for proposals (RFP). At the micro-level, FAIDA facilitated direct access to finance and business training for women through numerous activities:
    • Partnership with Mobile Network Operator (MNO) Etisalat to promote women’s access to finance with the MoWA and the Kabul Women’s Garden;
    • Development of a concept note and credit scheme for the Afghan Women’s Business Federation to link women’s MSMEs with the formal financial sector;
    • Training of 42 businesswomen from Nangahar on developing business plans, financing their projects, and marketing during a successful two-day Business and Gender workshop in Jalalabad, Nangahar – the first in a series of workshops held throughout the country.

Afghanistan Farm Service Alliance

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Overview:

The Afghanistan Farm Service Alliance (AFSA) program was launched as an innovative Global Development Alliance (GDA) program dedicated to increasing the incomes of farmers in Afghanistan through the support and development of a robust input supply network. Funded in two phases, CNFA led this four-year, $9.5 million program and established 18 Farm Service Centers (FSCs) in 17 provinces, ensuring affordable and reliable access for Afghan farmers to quality inputs and services such as seeds, fertilizer, crop protection products, and agriculture extension, as well as access to credit. FSCs received matching grant funding, as well as capacity building training and business network development support. The matching grant model proved to be highly successful, with grant funding stimulating more than $49 million added sales of licit goods by FSCs.

Program Approach:

The overall goal of AFSA was to increase the incomes of farmers in Afghanistan. To reach this goal, CNFA and its AFSA partners achieved these primary objectives:

  • Established sustainable and improved commercial input supply and farm service infrastructure in Afghanistan;
  • Ensured that farmers have affordable and reliable access to quality inputs and services, including seeds, fertilizers, crop protection products, and agriculture extension;
  • Linked farmers to expanding cash market opportunities to help them benefit from productivity and quality improvements brought about by the use of new inputs;
  • Effectively integrated women into the agricultural workforce through woman-owned FSCs and by mobilizing women farmer groups and organizations;
  • Served as a pioneering example of the “Afghan First” philosophy, successfully completing a transition to an all-Afghan team in 2010.

Farm Service Center Model: CNFA built a foundation for long-term agricultural development by catalyzing the growth of rural FSCs. FSCs improve access to high-quality inputs and provide platforms for agricultural extension, access to credit, post-harvest handling, and output marketing services. CNFA trained FSC owners and managers in business and inventory management, business plan development, new business development, marketing, and record keeping.

Association Development: CNFA facilitated the creation of the Farm Service Center Association of Afghanistan (FSCAA), a business alliance of FSC owners, which acts as a steering committee to ensure the improvement of services for its member FSCs.

Women’s FSCs: In February of 2009, AFSA established the first women-owned and operated FSC in Afghanistan. The women-led FSCs offer agricultural supplies catered to products that women produce, including canned and pickled goods, and provide training specifically geared to female agriculturalists.

Rural Economic Development in Southern Regions of Georgia

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The Rural Economic Development Program (RED) for the Southern Regions of Georgia was a joint Danish-Swiss project that aimed to contribute to the economic growth of the agriculture sector and reduce poverty in the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions. The four-year, $11.5 million Rural Economic Development Program focused on three main initiatives: increased productivity and profitability of seed and ware potato producers; increased productivity and profitability of commercial dairies, milk, and beef producers; and private investment in the potato, dairy, and livestock value chains.

Program Approach:

  • Advised and provided guidance on production and marketing of seed and ware potatoes;
  • Advised and provided guidance on production and marketing of quality of raw milk and other dairy products;
  • Stimulated direct private investment in project targeted activities using two financing mechanisms: a secured lending facility and a co-investment fund.

The impact of the RED program on smallholder farmers and agricultural enterprises involved in the target regions was substantial. With the tailor-made Technical Assistance and increased private investment in the potato and dairy/livestock value chains, targeted value chain actors – including farmers – reached higher productivity and improved incomes, in turn leading to economic growth of the region.

New Opportunities in Agriculture

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Overview:

New Opportunities in Agriculture (NOA), a five-year program funded by USAID under the RAISE PLUS IQC, boosted production by capitalizing on the strengths of traditional crops, introducing new high-value crops into the market; involving women, youth, and minorities in the production process; and advancing and expanding value chains to draw in infrastructure investment and strengthen export capacity. NOA put tools in the hands of Kosovar farmers, enabling them in all aspects of production, marketing, and entrepreneurial growth by providing vital training and opening up market linkages to encourage and facilitate trade. Working under contract with Tetra Tech, CNFA provided short-term technical expertise in value chain development through its USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program and extensive network of agribusiness consultants.

Program Approach:

  • Developed various crop-based producer groups to provide stronger linkages between pro­ducers and buyers throughout the region;
  • Expanded access to credit training and technical assistance for loan borrowers and officers;
  • Built the capacity of Kosovo’s private sector agribusinesses;
  • Conducted mentoring, training, workshops, and technical assistance for private sec­tor agribusinesses;
  • Promoted value addition in targeted sec­tors and introduced new crops including asparagus and saffron.
  • Increasing Affordable and Accessible Credit:NOA enabled producers and other actors in value chains to access capital or credit through a variety of mechanisms, such as loans and grants. A total of 142 small or medium enterprises received access to credit, and grants issued for value chain operators helped procure a variety of new agricultural equipment, allowing firms to increase productivity and reach new markets;
  • Linking Farmers to Markets:NOA exposed Kosovar farmers and processors to new markets by organizing study tours and promotional events as well as facilitating relationships between producers and buyers. These activities exposed producers to new technologies for crop production, new varieties to enhance yields and quality, and new, higher priced crops. In addition, these activities increased awareness amongst potential buyers of new opportunities arising in value chains, such as improved quality and increased availability of raw materials produced domestically. The program saw over $3.3 million in sales as a direct result of linkages created between farmers, processors, and traders. A total of 310 delivery contracts were issued for targeted crops.
  • Diversifying and Increasing Agricultural Products:NOA also expanded production by training farmers on the use of new technologies and value-adding processing, including a new processing line for bagged lettuce — the first of its kind in Kosovo. A total of 25 new technologies and management practices have been introduced through the program, and 1,200 farmers and processors have adopted these new technologies and management practices. CNFA designed a tool box of interventions to encourage table grape farmers to use growing techniques specific to table grapes, which included instruction on best cultural practice, improved canopy management, and integrated the modified “T” trellising. This allowed for extended growing seasons across all targeted crops, enabling farmers to produce earlier and earn higher prices.
  • Improving Food Quality and Safety:NOA worked to improve food quality and safety to ensure Kosovar producers and processors abided by existing food safety regulations issued by government authorities. By working with firms to become certified and meet international standards, NOA built consumer confidence in local products in areas of including water sanitation, the establishment of a Listeria exclusion and testing program, pre-harvest inspection procedures, hygiene-enhancing supplies and equipment, and the development of a recall plan. Food quality and safety measures implemented through NOA helped to improve product formulations, enrich human resources, and further the development of Kosovo’s food industry.