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News Article | November 22, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Join us for an online debate on November 22nd 1-2pm (GMT) about the role of multinational companies in Africa’s agri-food sector 2.28pm GMT If you enjoyed this debate please watch out for our public debate on this same theme, taking place on December 7th. Related: Is big business a force for good for African farmers? - event 2.14pm GMT "Inclusive business" as you describe it, meaning linking low-income communities to the supply chains of large multi-nationals, has nothing new. Once again, multinationals have sourced their product from low-income communities for years and years but often with an absence of traceability. Most of the commodities are traded by major traders and the whole supply chain management has been outsourced for years by the food industry. Today, a Unilever or a Mondelez would never import directly some tea or some cocoa. There was a big change of business model years ago where the food industry decided to focus on marketing and distribution and to outsource the supply chain management to traders because it was too much hassle. "Inclusive business" is just the acknowledgement that the outsourcing on supply chain management has been pushed too far and that multinationals need to understand what's going on on their supply chains. But once again, the cocoa and the coffee sourced by multinationals in Africa has always been produced by smallholder farmers, nothing new there...Inclusive business works. We have seen cases where smallholders are benefiting from inclusive agribusiness - for example rice farmers in Nigeria working with Olam as out growers have increased incomes and knowledge. They have also gained access to technologies, finance and markets thus benefiting from such relationships. Its also a similar case with the horticulture sector in Kenya and Ethiopia.Yes! We've enabled farmers to enter markets, improve their productivity within stable environments, and the impact we've seen considerably improves their livelihoods, often doubling income. This has a corresponding benefit within the local community. Related: Big brands like Unilever aren't the answer to helping Africa's farmers I think that the challenges that Bill Vorley and others set out are very real, and inclusion does need to be approached more inclusively. We are seeing many NGOs rising to the challenge of working with the formal and informal economy to seek to better equip smallholder farmer communities to engage with the growing number of domestic and regional market opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. Small Foundation supported the Mandaleo Agricultural Enterprise Fund run by Farm Africa, and is currently supporting Access to Capital for Rural Enterprises, a consortium of NGOs seeking to develop rural business concepts from their programmes, for example.I should also mention that we are also seeing innovative for-profit vehicles for addressing the needs of early-stage agricultural businesses in a number of African economies. These include H2O Venture Partners in Rwanda and MBC Africa in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.Inclusive business -- 'shared value' is a term that describes objectives in that direction, it seems to me. There is a growing number of good examples where smallholder communities have been linked to modern food supply chains in domestic as well as export markets. But much more can be done (and will in the future, because the demand for food is up, globally, which creates evolving new opportunities to source from small farmers). Links to markets are fundamental for these farmers -- just ask them; we speak with hundreds of (small) farmers in Africa and Asia every year and there are recurring themes, of which 'links to markets' is perhaps the most important one. MF Continue reading...


Peacock C.,FARM Africa | Sherman D.M.,Dutch Committee for Afghanistan
Small Ruminant Research | Year: 2010

The multi-dimensional nature of 'sustainability' including survival, resilience and efficiency is described as are the environmental, economic and social factors that underpin sustainability. Some of the current global trends and forces of change that impinge on goat production in the 21st century are also considered. The characteristics of some of the main goat systems and the people who keep them are described and the impact of some global trends (climate change, rising prices of food and fuel, environmental degradation, genetic erosion, dietary and lifestyle changes, social inequality and global insecurity) on the sustainability of goat production are considered. A 'sustainability scorecard' is developed as a tool to assess the ability of goat production systems to survive current trends and future shocks. Some case studies are presented from Africa, Afghanistan and the UK, including the pastoral systems of East Africa, emerging smallholder dairy systems in Africa, cashmere goat production in Afghanistan and a highly intensive niche dairy enterprise in the UK. The sustainability scorecard is applied to assess each system. Finally, conclusions are drawn about how to make goat systems more sustainable and resilient to the challenges they currently face and how goat keepers need to constantly adapt to changing circumstances in order to survive. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Peacock C.,FARM Africa | Ahuya C.O.,Farm Africa Dairy Goat and Animal Healthcare Project | Ojango J.M.K.,Kenya International Livestock Research Institute | Okeyo A.M.,Kenya International Livestock Research Institute
Livestock Science | Year: 2011

Successful livestock improvement programmes focusing on low-input smallholder production systems though rare, are possible using community-based approaches. This paper outlines important design and implementation components of a goat improvement programme undertaken by FARM Africa in the eastern highlands of Kenya. Through strong capacity building initiatives at grass-roots level, producers were empowered to undertake a goat genetic improvement programme that benefitted them in several ways. This resulted in the farmers forming their own umbrella organizations to cater for their interests as producers in accessing animal health and breeding services, production inputs, and marketing goats and goat products. In seven years, the population of improved goats in one of the project areas increased from 2100 to 5500, and the livelihoods of the participating farmers improved. Income from sales of milk and improved breeding and slaughter stock increased, while food security improved as a result of daily milk consumption and improved crop yields resulting from use of the rich goat manure. The project has, however, faced challenges arising mainly from the popularity of the improved goats within the Eastern Africa region, which has resulted in sale of a large number of the young animals, leaving few replacements within the project area. Uptake of goat breeding by private commercial farmers to provide breeding stock and replacement animals is currently lacking. Further research and evaluation is required on how to strengthen collective-action based institutions to improve services within smallholder farmer communities. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Lemenih M.,Farm Africa | Kassa H.,Center for International Forestry Research
Forests | Year: 2014

In Ethiopia, deforestation rates remain high and the gap between demand and domestic supply of forest products is expanding, even though government-initiated re-greening efforts began over a century ago. Today, over 3 million hectares (ha) of degraded forest land are under area exclosure; smallholder plantations cover 0.8 million ha; and state-owned industrial plantations stagnate at under 0.25 million ha. This review captures experiences related to re-greening practices in Ethiopia, specifically with regards to area exclosure and afforestation and reforestation, and distills lessons regarding processes, achievements and challenges. The findings show that farmers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are the main players, and that the private sector has so far played only a small role. The role of the government was mixed: supportive in some cases and hindering in others. The challenges of state- and NGO-led re-greening practices are: inadequate involvement of communities; poorly defined rehabilitation objectives; lack of management plans; unclear responsibilities and benefit-sharing arrangements; and poor silvicultural practices. The lessons include: a more active role for non-state actors in re-greening initiatives; more attention to market signals; devolution of management responsibility; clear definition of responsibilities and benefit-sharing arrangements; and better tenure security, which are all major factors to success. © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


Bedada W.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Lemenih M.,Farm Africa | Karltun E.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment | Year: 2016

Decline in farmland soil fertility due to nutrient depletion is a concern for smallholder farmers in the highlands of Ethiopia. In this study we tested if long-term addition of compost, either alone or in combination with nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) fertilizer, affected available soil nutrient status, grain/tuber harvests, agronomic N use efficiency, and plot level N and P nutrient balances. The on-farm experiments were conducted on four farm fields for up to 6 years in Beseku, Ethiopia. A randomized complete block design was used, with four treatments: full dose of compost applied alone at 2.4 tha-1 DW organic matter (C); full dose of fertilizer (F); half compost and half fertilizer (CF); and, unfertilized control. In the upper 10cm of the surface soil, several Mehlich-3 extractable nutrients (B, Ca, K, Mg, P, S, and Zn) had significantly higher concentrations in the C treatment (P<0.01), and some in the CF treatment (P<0.05) than in the control. Phosphorus was the only nutrient with a higher concentration in the F treatment than the control. Maize and faba bean showed added benefits (synergy) in terms of yield increase in the CF treatment and a better agronomic efficiency for added N. Plot level N balances were negative for all treatments except C, with strong depletion in the control (-76 kg N ha-1yr-1) and F (-65 kg N ha-1yr-1) treatments. When the N balance was compared to measured change in soil N, the F and control treatments were significantly (P<0.05) lower than zero. N in the CF and C treatments was close to steady-state, i.e., the input of N in organic matter compensated for the loss of N through mineralization. The control treatment had a negative P balance of 11kgPha-1yr-1, with moderately negative balance of 4 kg P ha-1yr-1 in the C treatment. The CF and F treatments had positive P balances. Thus, the addition of compost, both alone or in combination with mineral fertilizer, can prevent N and reduce P mining and improve the nutrient status of the soil. When only NP fertilizer was used, the crop utilized all N that was mineralized indicating that the crop was N limited. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Muhanji G.,FARM Africa | Roothaert R.L.,FARM Africa | Webo C.,FARM Africa | Stanley M.,Farm Concern International
International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability | Year: 2011

African indigenous vegetables (AIVs) have been part of the food systems in sub-Saharan Africa for generations. The region is a natural habitat for more than 45,000 species of plants, of which about 1,000 can be eaten as green leafy or fruit vegetables that happen to be the mainstay of traditional diets. During the colonial era, adventurers and slavers sailing in Africa introduced exotic plants such as maize, cassava and beans and, later, commercial crops such as sugarcane, cocoa, coffee and cotton, which began contributing more to life. Farmers integrated these crops into their age-old livelihood strategies at the expense of traditional subsistence crops. AIVs were almost entirely neglected and considered 'poor people's' plants. To reverse the trend, FARM-Africa and its partners reintroduced AIVs which are now forming part of families' diets as well as becoming a source of income for smallholder farmers in Arumeru, Tanzania and Kiambu, Kenya. AIVs are robust and productive, and thus well suited to feeding the hungriest and most vulnerable sections of society. © 2011 Earthscan.


Peacock C.,FARM Africa | Hastings T.,FARM Africa
International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability | Year: 2011

Improving the production and marketing of livestock kept by smallholder farmers in Africa has the potential to be a route out of poverty for millions of families. However, farmers' ability to improve livestock production is constrained by access to key services such as veterinary and breeding services. FARM-Africa has pioneered an approach to establishing dairy goat enterprises on small farms that places all key services in the hands of farmers and the private sector. An example of this approach implemented in a project in Kenya is described. The approach has been extremely successful and is already spreading across East Africa. Total milk production and incomes increased 10-fold within five years. Farmers are starting to sell fresh milk to supermarkets in Nairobi. With greater investment, the model could reach many more families. FARM-Africa is planning to expand the breeding and animal healthcare model through a franchising business model. © 2011 Earthscan.


Muhanji G.,FARM Africa
Appropriate Technology | Year: 2010

FARM-Africa's Maendeleo Agricultural Technology Fund (MATF) introduced a three-year oyster mushroom project to smallholder Chagga farmers in Hai and Siha districts in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania in 2005. The project was implemented with the help of the Horticultural Research Institute (HORTI)- Tengeru, and it was the Institute, in 2007 and 2008, who guided the project to improve the access to profitable markets with additional financial assistance from FARM-Africa. Many farmers in Hai District have small farms so mushroom growing is appropriate. The mushrooms are grown on a substrate made from crop residues like banana leaves, maize husks and rice straw. Many women have taken a lead in the business, and have found that they are no longer dependent on their husbands for money for some basic household goods. The medicinal benefits are acknowledged by experts. Nancy Kaaya, HORTI-Tengeru, noted that mushrooms have the capability to raise immunity levels. The mixture is put inside plastic bags, which are placed in specially constructed dark and humid sheds, which are simple structures made of local materials and thatched roofs.


Muhanji G.,FARM Africa
Appropriate Technology | Year: 2010

Farm Africa's Maendeleo Agricultural Technology Fund (MATF) introduced upland rice farming in a three-year funded project, implemented by A2N in 2007. When A2N started implementing the project, they organized the farmers into groups. Initially, 3000 farmers in 100 groups, but as the project comes to an end, a total of 3195 farmers have been organized into 103 groups. To achieve sustainable outputs, A2N adopted a collaborative approach, providing extension services and linking farmers to critical partners such as input sellers. FICA, an agro-seed supplier was brought on board to ensure that the right seed was delivered to farmers because if one does not get the right planting materials you end up with nothing. They provide an alternative outlet in case the other market players fail to purchase the produce. The company was also able to offer farmers the option of either milling or branding and packaging their own produce for the market.


Mukanji G.,FARM Africa
Appropriate Technology | Year: 2010

Farmers in Masai District of Southern Tanzania are making use of the Maendeleo Agricultural Technology Fund (MATF) to boost their organic cashew nuts production. Regina Hamisi is a farmer who has the roles of training other farmers as an extension officer as well as a secretary of her Mpindimbi group in Masasi District. OLAM is the main cashew processing plant and exporting company in Mtwara. The nuts she delivers are organically grown and farmers are paid Tsh.1000/kg compared to Tsh.250-600/kg for normal varieties. Four years ago, Regina and other cashew farmers in Masasi were pessimistic about the crop. Machiel Spuij says MATF has helped the Masasi farmers expand by making access to inputs and marketing much easier within the existing cooperative societies which until then enjoyed near exclusive rights over the cashew business.

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