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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Speaking at the launch of the programme, The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development in Malawi, Dr. George Chaponda said that agriculture and food security are core pillars in the development of the nation. He added that Malawi is capable of producing enough food to feed herself and her neighbors. 

The Thrive programme seeks to promote the adoption of climate resilient practices as well as boost community resilience to shock and emergencies. The programme also seeks to promote economic empowerment by fostering reduction of poverty and deterring unsustainable landscape use. This will be done with a crosscutting theme of an empowered Biblical world view aimed at ‘software’ improvements in behavioral and attitude change. The 5 year programme will be implemented in Nthondo, Nkhoma and Mpamba/Chikwina.

THRIVE Malawi Programme will really add value to the Government’s efforts in reducing food insecurity in the country.
Dr. George Chaponda

While commending the partners present at the launch for their efforts in promoting farming as a business, he urged the people of Malawi to take up value addition and processing as a food security measure. He emphasized that the programme was also paramount in aiding smallholder farmers combat climate change. 

The minister further urged development partners to increase investment in agriculture and food security in Malawi and Africa as a whole. He however cautioned development partners against pushing the agenda of commercializing agriculture too much to the detriment of the small scale peasant farmers without cushioning them from exploitation by their large scale counterparts.

Mr. Stanley Mwangi of Farm Concern International, reiterated that the partners would achieve the set objectives of THRIVE through tested business models in value chain development, market linkages and mitigation to shocks and emergencies as well as financial services innovations.

Indeed, the commercialization of smallholder agriculture through the THRIVE programme is a revolutionary approach that sets in motion the renaissance of the Malawian economy through trade and agricultural development.

The Transforming Household Resilience In Vulnerable Environments (THRIVE) Malawi is a 5-year partnership project that brings together 3 developmental organizations, Farm Concern International (FCI), World Vision Malawi (WVM) and Vision Fund in the implementation that will seeks to address several core areas; move people permanently out of poverty by strengthening livelihoods, disaster preparedness, building adaptive capacity and addressing different areas of market linkages. The goal of THRIVE is to address the multidimensional nature of poverty through an integrated approach that considers all of the core factors underlying vulnerability by:

  • Bringing reliable models that truly transforms smallholder farmers.
  • Contributing  sustainable natural resource management.
  • Building capacity of smallholder farmers and provide innovative ICT solutions through digitized e-extension and mobile phone based e-trading platform
  • Contributing to increased household incomes thereby empowering smallholder farmers
  • Providing alternative livelihood opportunities thereby creating rural employment for women and youth
  • As well as provide reliable, innovative financial solution.

The programme will be implemented in 3 program areas namely; Nthondo, Nkhoma and Mpamba/Chikwina.

FCI Malawi started its operations in 2010 and has received huge support from various arms of the Malawi government and has enjoyed partnership support from World Vision Malawi, Vision Fund Malawi, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) among other organizations.  In addition, FCI has partnered with Bvumbwe research, International Center for Potatoes (CIP), Universal Industries Zomba, Blantyre and Thyolo districts to uplift the lives of thousands of smallholders across Malawi. 

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Overview on Agro-inputs access

To become more productive and profitable, farmers require affordable and village-level access to farm inputs  and services such as: financing to purchase inputs, quality  seeds of improved varieties; soil nutrients, crop protection products and crop insurance. While the production results are mixed, generally the decreases observed are linked to externalities such as drought coupled with disease in 2013. On the other hand, the increases can be linked to key DoHoMa interventions anchored on the CV model. The findings show that most farmers have increased use of various inputs, with 96.6% of farmers in Siha and Meru 92.4% indicating to have access to agro-inputs. As figure 1 shows, between 73-80% of the sampled farmers had increased their various inputs including fertilizer,  manure, pesticides and improved seeds since enrolling in the program.

Further analysis on the types of agro-inputs used shows some differences (figure 2). In both Meru and Siha, over 93% of the respondents used improved  seed; however, fertilizer, manure and pesticide use was much higher in Siha than in Meru.

The increased inputs use is linked to business partnerships formed between farmers and various agro-inputs and services providers. DoHoMa facilitated this by organizing agri-trade fairs and field days in the various commercial villages. In addition, the program signed formal partnerships with various public, private and NGO actors as collaborating partners in Tanzania. These included Kibo seeds, FICA seeds (Agriculture Seeds Agency) ASA for staple seeds, Syngenta, Universal Group company, Bidii enterprises, Braza Africa and East Africa Seeds company for various inputs supply, Partners for Development, IFFA Seed, and MAMSI

Such partnerships enabled farmers to access  quality assured inputs and also reduced transaction cost as the distributing companies partnered with village-based agro- dealers to bring inputs closer. In addition, in line with the CV model, the organized farmers were able to attract discount prices for some inputs as illustrated in the case study below. 

Discussions with agro-input providers confirmed that farmers had increased use of inputs especially fertilizer and seed. Such partnerships were equally beneficial to the agro-input service providers who increased the volumes of inputs sold.


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