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For generations East Africans have been relying on various crops as staple foods providing a strong basis for food-based nutrition. These include bananas and sweet potatoes. On this premise, between October 2013 and May 2014, Farm Concern International decided to undertake a value-chain wide landscape analysis with the ultimate aim of commercializing smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania. The Gates Foundation sponsored project was dubbed Landscape Analysis for Banana and Orange Sweet Potato (OSP) Seed Farmer- Market & Consumer Value Chains for Tanzania, Uganda & Ethiopia, or more commonly known as SeFaMaCo.

In order to commercialize smallholders in these regions, a tradition that FCI was becoming widely known for among both donors and markets over the last decade, the institution set up a comprehensive process that focused on four main aspects of banana and sweet potato commercialization: assessing viable opportunities, barriers, consumer markets and identifying sustainable innovations. If these could be determined, and in effect, the business environment that smallholders dealing in these commodities could be understood, FCI was sure to solve the mystery of what it takes to enhance the seed-farmer-market-consumer value chain.

Over the course of the engagement, several milestones were achieved while learning how to commercialize smallholders within the region engaging in the two commodities. Firstly, through a think tank composed of technical experts from the 3 countries, a SeFaMaCo business model was derived that could be used during an intervention to capitalize on consumer demands for the benefit of smallholders. Secondly, a Technical Experts Advisory Group for the Model (TEAM) was established whose expertise could be engaged during an intervention to target bananas and sweet potatoes’ markets in each country. Thirdly, using innovative methods to conduct desk reviews, Focus Group Discussions and Consumers’ consumption trials, FCI was able to produce a landscape analysis on the relevant aspects affecting seed, farmer, markets and consumers which led directly to the fourth major achievement, a comprehensive report on the findings.

Ranging from nine reports on seed systems, production and marketing of sweet potato and banana; nutrition and consumption analyses; to consolidated value chain analyses on sweet potato and bananas, comprehensive research was done in the search for how to enhance smallholder commercialization’s next beneficiaries. Also, regional consultative forums were held on 5th & 6th November in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Kampala, Uganda with representatives of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, governments of the host countries, private sector players, researchers, industrial processors, market traders and farmers. Cumulatively, these consultative forums led to the development of a concept on how to enhance the banana and sweet potato value chain in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania by commercializing the value chains in their entirety. Most importantly, as a result of the consultative forums and interactions held with the attendants, a proposal was developed. Entitled the “Integrated Value Chain Development and Smallholder Farmer (SHF) Commercialization of Banana and Orange Sweet Potato for Tanzania, Uganda & Ethiopia based on a Seed -Farmer- Market & Consumer Model”, it captured the spirit of the review and incorporated the efforts of 13 sub-grantees and 4 strategic partners. While it was submitted and is under review by the Gates Foundation, if accepted it could unlock the immeasurable potential of populations of smallholders eagerly waiting to feed Africa and the world.

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FCI VISION :Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond.