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Farm Concern International seized the moment to share market data at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2016 which was held at the UN Complex in Gigiri. The forum brought together over 1,000 delegates from over 30 countries in Africa including heads of state and policy makers in the agricultural sector to advance policies and secure investments that will ensure a better life for millions of Africa’s farmers and families—and realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In a region challenged by climate change, rapidly growing urban populations, and an urgent need for jobs, agriculture offers solutions, providing a clear path to food security and employment opportunities for all Africans. The aim of the forum was to ensure commitment to policy for African farmers and agriculture business to provide opportunities for economic growth.

FCI was among the many delegates invited to attend the forum as well as one of the few organizations that got an opportunity to exhibit, promote and market the organization across board. This was done through showcasing of various materials highlighting the impact that FCI has had over the last 12 years.Over 30,000 US Dollars was pledged in investment in agriculture over the next decade to increase income and employment for smallholder farmers as well as agricultural businesses. 

As an AGRF partner, FCI was part of the team that committed to “Seizing the Moment”. From the forum, FCI aims to convene local, regional and international private sector partners, Smallholders farmers, Commercial Village representatives, Processors, Research Organizations, Government representative, Donor Organizations and Development Organizations for strategic Scale up of opportunities in Cassava and Sweet potato value chains. 

 

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The East African Cassava Value Chain- Wide Profitability Forum was held on Wednesday, September 21st 2016 at FCI Africa Regional Office. The interactive forum was a critical learning phase of a regional programme on Cassava Commercialization and Processing funded by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and implemented by Farm Concern International.

The forum brought together local, regional and international private sector partners, Smallholders farmers, Commercial Village representatives, Processors, Research Organizations, Government representatives, Donor Organizations, Development Organizations for strategic Scale up of opportunities in Cassava value chain. 

Farm Concern International shared the gains made during the six years (2010-2016) of working with cassava and sweet potato smallholders in Kenya and Tanzania. The project has benefited 173,542 smallholder farmers in 417 commercial villages in Busia, Makueni, Kilifi, Mtwapa, Mwala and Homabay in Kenya and Meru and Kibaha sites in Tanzania. The project goal was to increase smallholder farmers’ productivity and market access for cassava and sweet potato in Kenya and Tanzania. 

The programme strengthened the capacity and efficiency of farmer organizations to inclusively produce cassava and sweet potato, and market collectively through commercial villages. The programme also promoted use of agronomic best practices and quality inputs for increased market-led production.

 

The East African Cassava Value Chain- Wide Profitability Forum held on September 21st 2016 at FCI Africa Office being addressed by Anne Mbaabu, Market Access Director, AGRA (pictured).

 

The emerging statistical evidence resulting from the project intervention was breath taking with the small holder farmers having made cumulative sales worth USD 203,759,016 and savings estimated at USD 16,064,653. Speaking during the symposium, Mumbi Kimathi- the FCI Strategy and Innovations Director noted that commercialization requires partnership for maximum impact thus the need for strategic collaborations of all players in the cassava value chain. “Cassava is the raw material solution for industrial use as a maize substitute thus more efforts need to be made to support the value chain,” remarked Madam Mumbi. She noted that Youth are interested in cassava processing and marketing and not production hence the need for a vibrant village economy to be able to support them in achieving their dreams.

Over the implementation period, FCI has collected enormous information on cassava and other value chains in the implementation regions that has shown various trends and unearthed interesting phenomenon that give insight into the decision making dynamics employed by farmers. Crop production is driven by various visible and invisible costs which farmers incur thus quantification of these cost drivers is key in determining profitability and understanding the points of intervention. Research has shown that seed accounts for the largest portion of cost in root production; this indicates the need to continually support access to clean, improved planting materials for profitable cassava production. Driven by these statistics, FCI has identified and capacity build 391 cassava seed entrepreneurs across the different sites of intervention. 

“Involvement of village level seed entrepreneurs is the best approach to ensure farmers access clean planting materials with ease at a fair cost,” noted Mr. Harold Mate, FCI Senior Technical Specialist Agri-Value Chains and Markets

Gross margin analysis has shown net revenue from cassava to be higher compared to green grams and cowpeas across the region where FCI has been implementing the programme. The net revenue from cassava at market gate is Ksh. 418,000 per Hectare compared to Ksh. 69,225 for green grams and Ksh. 29,690 for cowpeas in the Coastal region of Kenya.

Buyers lamented of the low cassava volumes produced by farmers in East Africa hence unable to meet their demand. They also noted that farmers have a challenge in accessing clean and disease free planting materials which results in production of high fibre and low starch content cassava.

Prof. Jasper Imungi from the Department of Food, Science, Nutrition and Technology, University of Nairobi noted that the cassava business has to be sustainable by ensuring that there is enough and continuous supply of cassava to processors throughout the year. 

The Forum highlighted the opportunities for scale up in the cassava value chain including mechanization to support cassava commercialization and processing, establishment of village level seed entrepreneurs for continuous supply of improved and clean planting materials, establishment of Research and Training Centres of excellence, development of curriculum for the R&TCs, lobbying National Government to allocate resources for extension, involvement of youth and women as key players in the value chain and nutritional awareness campaigns on the value of cassava flour.

“We cannot leave Africa to be thought about by other people but we need to think about it ourselves because no one will come from elsewhere and design the destiny of Africa,” these were the remarks of Antony Masinde- FCI Senior Technical Specialist Agro- processing and Enterprise Incubation while making closing remarks during the forum.

 

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Trade-Fair in Moshi,Tanzania with 425 Smallholder Farmers; drawn from 100 Commercial Villages, 26 Private Companies and 15 Development Partners organised by Farm Concern International Tanzania, supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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….but limited land access still a challenge. Overview on gender access to land.

In Sub Saharan Africa, women are vital contributors to farming. In Tanzania for example, the agricultural sector is characterized as female-intensive, meaning that women comprise the majority of the labor force (54%). Agriculture also comprises a greater part of women‘s economic activity than men’s: About 81% of women, compared to 73% men (Kennedy and Anderson, 2011). Since women have less access to land, improved seeds, better techniques, technologies, and markets, yields on their plots are typically 20 to 40 percent lower than on plots farmed by men. Furthermore, in agricultural supply chains, individuals who can access the most lucrative functions enjoy the highest returns. Women are typically over-represented in low value chains and in lower value nodes within chains (Coles and Mitchell, 2012; Doss 2011). Men tend to dominate functions with relatively high barriers to entry and corresponding greater returns (rent) and to control chain management functions (Ibid, 2011). An impact assessment for DoHoMa confirms these findings as data is discussed below.

In the CV model, women participants are recognized as individual suppliers’ within the CV. An analysis of how much land women
 access informs the approach that DoHoMa would use to support women’s empowerment. A gender analysis of land access confirmed the differences between men and women. In both sites, men on average access more land than women. In Meru, men access about 2.6 acres compared to 2.1 acres by women, while in Siha, men have about 4.5 acres compared to 3.5 acres for women. In both sites, men had larger farm sizes (< 4 acres or more) with majority of these farmers located in Siha. In both sites, majority of those that farm on less than an acre are women (Figure 1). These findings point to women’s disadvantaged position in smallholder commercialization efforts because of persistent gender-disparities in access to land as one of the key productive resources.

Women adopted Agro-Inputs use just like men and in some cases more adoption by women.

A gender analysis in both sites of farmers that had indications of using improved seeds and other inputs shows that there was minimal difference between men and women (figure 2). In both sites, women and men had widely adopted improved seed. However in Meru, slightly more women were using other inputs such as fertilizer, manure and pesticides. In Siha, more farmers using fertilizer were men while more women used manure and pesticides. These interesting results can be attributed to the high number of womenparticipation because of the deliberate effort of the program in promoting increased women’s market-oriented production and commercialization.

The 2003 World Bank report in reference to evidence from several studies indicated the importance of women’s access to assets such as land, both for children’s nutrition and for children’s education opportunities, especially girls (WB 2003:57–8). This implies that women’s land rights are central to key poverty-reduction indicators related to children’s nutrition and basic education. Addressing these gender gaps can be proven under the DoHoMa programme that targeted support helps households become more productive and reduce malnutrition in poor farming families.

It is hypothesized that the agricultural development efforts in rural Africa have marginalized women (with varying degrees), reducing their productivity and control over resources. Women's total work burden has relatively increased, in efforts to integrate smallholders into some of the agricultural value chains. This phenomenon is understood as an integral process of capital penetration and accumulation.

Thus it is necessary that women’s involvement in the program, such as DoHoMa continue promoting high value crops production be assured like under Commercial Villages that there are ways of ensuring that they have some control over the product of their labor through the sales of these crops. This remains a key challenge of many programs, as many women are less able to retain control of high value crops and the profits accrued and decision-making authority concerning these crops.

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Population growth in urban cities will explode by 2.5 billion people by 2050, and therefore requires increased agricultural production of upto 60 % to meet growing demands. This was revealed during the Global Food Security Symposium held in Washington DC on 26th April 2016, where Farm Concern International, FCI was represented by its Board Chair Prof. Meme Kinoti (pictured). The symposium, which is a convening of the Chicago Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative provides a platform for discussion about the US government and international community progress on addressing the problem of food insecurity. The Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security provides a platform for discussion about the US government and international community’s progress on addressing the problem of food insecurity

Among the key recommendations passed  in a report released at the symposium, was the need to enable and leverage private sector investment that includes small-scale farmers and rural SMEs in the food system. While at the symposium, Prof. Kinoti was able to present the unique niche that FCI offers while transiting smallholder farmers from subsistence to commercialised systems by working closely with private sector partners in Africa. He was also able to network with key individuals and organisations in the global arena that FCI will pursue so as to form strategic partnerships to drive african agriculture, bearing in mind that Strategic partnerships are the hallmark of sustainable organisational development. Therefore, Farm Concern International (FCI) endeavours to forge partnerships with like – minded partners with an interest in the agricultural sector. 

Lessons learnt from the symposium present a unique opportunity for smallholder subsistence farmers in developing countries to alleviate the situation by providing them food and in turn, address the challenge of poverty and joblessness amongst the youth in these low income countries, which is the main aim FCI hopes to achieve through smallholder commercialization.

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FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond

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