Rural Economic Development in Southern Regions of Georgia

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.

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 USAID Development Food Aid Program (DFAP) (2013-2020), works with over 56,000 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. Improve Sustainable Access to and Availability of Food: Amalima promotes climate and conservation-sensitive agriculture practices and encourages the adoption of improved agriculture and livestock production practices;
  2. Strengthen Community Resilience to Shocks: Amalima partners 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 promote income generating activities and savings to build household resiliency;
  3. Improve Nutrition and Health: Amalima improves the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) practices, dietary diversity, and micro-nutrient 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. Promote Gender Equality: Amalima empowers 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).

Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production

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Overview:

The USAID/Georgia Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production (REAP) project (2013-2018) was an enterprise development program that increased income and employment in rural areas by delivering firm-level investment and tailored technical assistance to Georgian agribusinesses. Since October 2013, REAP increased private investment and commercial finance in the agriculture sector by $37.5 million, mitigated risks for rural agribusinesses, upgraded farmers’ agricultural and technical skills, and expanded commercially sustainable linkages between service providers, producers, and processors.

Program Approach:

  1. SME Development in the Agriculture Sector: By utilizing its $6 million grant fund, REAP has partnered with 70 agribusinesses to launch profit centers that provide input supply, services, technical trainings, and commercial markets to smallholders. REAP’s investment portfolio, consisting primarily of Farm Service Centers (FSCs) and Machinery Service Centers (MSCs), created over 2,000 new rural jobs, provided over $18 million in new cash markets, trained over 200,000 smallholders, and generated new gross sales of over $182 million.
  2. Technical Assistance Program: To ensure the sustainability of REAP investments and bolster the capacity of Georgia’s agriculture sector, the project worked closely with its partners to deliver demand-driven, customized technical assistance in collaboration with the private sector to improve competitiveness, increase sales, and foster professional development. REAP also supported non-grantees — enterprises that did not meet the competitive benchmarks to receive matching grants — by providing capacity-building consulting through local BSPs and International STTA on a 50-50 cost-shared basis to increase access to funding.
  3. Gender: REAP ensured inclusive enterprise development and involved men, women, and youth in its activities. All C1 grant applicants were required to present a gender integration strategy as part of their proposals. REAP expects at least 15% of grantees and 25% of trainees to be women.
  4. Access to Finance: REAP stimulated affordable financing by working with both financial institutions and agribusinesses, providing technical assistance to improve supply and demand. Through business plans, agriculture lending strategies, and training for loan officers, REAP increased the volume of lending to the agriculture sector.
  5. Workforce Development: REAP had a robust internship program that allowed over 120 students to work in fields that support REAP’s implementation, including administration and finance, monitoring and evaluation, environment, access to finance, and technical assistance. REAP also offered 11 research grants for students committed to addressing constraints faced in Georgia’s agriculture sector, including an additional nine who focused on Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (BMSB) research.
  6. Environment: All grant applicants were visited by REAP’s Environmental Specialist and provided with environmental review checklists and guidance on environmental compliance.

Farmer-to-Farmer: Southern Africa (Closed 2018)

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CNFA implemented the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program in Southern Africa starting in 2008. From 2008-2018, CNFA’s F2F operated in the countries of Angola, Malawi, and Mozambique and aimed to generate rapid, sustained economic growth in the agricultural sector through short-term technical assistance provided by expert U.S. volunteers, including farmers, bankers, professors, civil servants, and active and retired business people. Lasting two-to-four weeks, volunteer assignments focused on a range of topics, from training farmers’ associations in improved production techniques to teaching cooperatives better financial management and marketing.

CNFA volunteers were guided and supported by our highly trained home and local staff. Through the storytelling of returned volunteers, F2F increased the broader American public’s understanding of international development issues and the critical importance of U.S. development programs.

Program Approach:

Since 2008, CNFA worked with agribusinesses, extension agencies, cooperatives, and farmers to provide expertise on topics including crop production, post-harvest handling and marketing of seeds, cooperative and association development, business plan development, communications and marketing support, and financial management.

  1. Increased Agricultural Sector Productivity and Profitability: CNFA’s approach focused on increasing smallholder productivity and profitability by targeting high-potential value chains in each target country;
  2. Improved Conservation and Sustainable Use of Environmental and Natural Resources: CNFA balanced increased agricultural productivity with improved conservation and sustainable resource use. Examples of volunteer roles include: water management, integrated pest management (IPM), and integrated soil fertility management;
  3. Expanded Agricultural Sector Access to Financial Services: CNFA linked smallholder farmer organizations and SMEs with credit via appropriate channels, including micro-finance institutions, banks, supplier credit, leasing, equity investment, and blended capital from investors;
  4. Strengthened Agricultural Sector Institutions: CNFA strengthened farmer organizations, including cooperatives and associations, local NGOs, industry associations that support improved input supply, and agricultural universities.

Feed the Future Ethiopia Farm Service Center Project

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Overview:

The Feed the Future Ethiopia Farm Service Center Project (2015-2017), funded by USAID, provided technical support to the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) in establishing 20 Farm Service Centers (FSCs) throughout the Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, and Tigray regions of Ethiopia. This was a follow-on project to the successful USAID Commercial Farm Service Program, which piloted CNFA’s Farm Service Center Model in Ethiopia.

Program Approach:

  1. Increasing Income and Access to Finance: CNFA’s Farm Service Center Model is a market-based private sector model that applies matching grants and training methodology to establish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that deliver farm supplies and services. FSCs are often located in larger townships and serve as rural development centers that meet the needs of private farmers in their communities. These centers improve access to finance and increase sustainable income by providing a range of agricultural inputs, machinery services, veterinary services and products, marketing assistance for agricultural outputs, training and information, and access to credit.
  2. Improving food security: The growing network of retail Farm Service Centers has a positive impact on thousands of smallholder farmers across Ethiopia and increases the viability and food security of the entire region. Additionally, ATA’s monitoring and evaluation information systems ensure that the full impact of this transformation is captured as data and can be leveraged to continually integrate lessons learned.
  3. Promoting gender equality: The project ensured that gender integration and environmental mitigation measures were fully incorporated in the roll-out of all new Farm Service Centers.

Agricultural Growth Program – Livestock Market Development

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Overview: 

The Agricultural Growth Program-Livestock Market Development (AGP-LMD) (2012-2018) was a livestock market development project funded by USAID. As part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future (FTF) Initiative. AGP-LMD fostered growth, created jobs for rural households, and reduced hunger and malnutrition through increased competitiveness of selected livestock value chains in meat and dairy.

The project was part of USAID’s broader contribution to the Government of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Growth Program, aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and market access for crop and livestock products in targeted areas while bolstering the participation of women and youth. Additionally, CNFA supported local partner organizations in leading interventions through existing cooperatives, associations, government agencies, and private firms, spurring sustainable economic growth in Ethiopia.

Program Approach: 

  1. Increased Productivity and Competitiveness of Selected Livestock Value Chains: AGP-LMD provided training to livestock producers, enabling them to increase their livestock production, expand private farm supply businesses to better provide commercial farm inputs and services, and increase their competitiveness in domestic and international markets.

 

  1. Improved Enabling Environment for Livestock Value Chains: The AGP-LMD team facilitated policy discussions to reform bottlenecks and involved stakeholders through workshops and platforms. The program leveraged capacity-building for public and private sector actors, coordinated linkages with other USAID programs, and applied research to yield successful interventions. Over the life of the project, AGP-LMD developed and supported 11 livestock-related policies, regulations, and administrative procedures.
  1. Improved Quality and Diversity of Household Diets: AGP-LMD integrated communications and community mobilization efforts related to nutritional practices in program activities,  targeting improvements in quality and diversity of diet for children under two and people living with HIV/AIDS. Through development agents and health extension workers, AGP-LMD reached more than 160,000 people with nutrition messaging.

Direct collaboration between the project and the Government of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries resulted in the launch of the Ethiopian Livestock Identification and Traceability System (ETLITS) in 2017. Implemented by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and financially supported by USAID, ETLITS enables organizations and businesses to track the lifespan of livestock and their production, processing, distribution, and transport into the broader retail market, as well as to help ensure animal health and food safety.

  1. Women’s Empowerment: AGP-LMD trained more than 400 women entrepreneurs in business and leadership, equipping them with skills like time management, strategic planning, business relationship management, and ICT to help them participate more formally in the marketplace, increase their savings, improve the quality of their products, and strengthen their decision-making power within the household.

Partners:

  • Netherlands Development Organization
  • International Medical Corps
  • Self-Help Africa- Ethiopia
  • Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara
  • Relief Society of Tigray
  • Institute for International Education
  • The Oromo Grassroots Development Initiative