Milestones 2016

Milestone Briefs

AGRA Joins Public-Private Partnership to Develop New Income Opportunities for African Farmers

A consortium of leading  public and private announced a new initiative, the Patient Procurement Platform,
to unlock income opportunities for smallholder farmers in the developing world. Consortium members who signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Davos yesterday included AGRA, Bayer, GrowAfrica, the International Finance Corporation, Rabobank, Syngenta, the World Food Programme and Yara International. AGRA’s participation in the partnership is part of its broader effort to harness the power of private sector ventures to become a force for social change for Africa’s smallholder farmers. The Patient Procurement Platform complements and helps expand AGRA’s existing work  with African governments and organizations, including small-to-medium sized enterprises and farmers organizations. The platform offers a number of ways for farmers to boost their income and increase food security through planting, harvesting and selling high-quality crops. It facilitates access to fair harvest contracts before planting begins, helps farmers obtain the agricultural inputs they need to increase yields, and offers other support, including trainings from consortium members and other providers.

Inclusive Green Growth of the Smallholder Agriculture (IGGSAS) Launched in Tanzania

The initiative, which is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has an overall goal of increasing incomes and food security of at least 30,000 farming households in Mbeya region by the year 2020.This programme will focus on strengthening at least six crop value chains to operate more efficiently while increasing access to inputs and knowledge of agronomic practices among smallholder farmers.The programme also aims at improving access to markets. In July 2015, The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded a grant of NOK 9,000,000 (US$ 1.2M) to AGRA. This was to fund a one-year inception phase of the IGGSAS Programme in the SAGCOT with YARA.During this period, AGRA has put in place the systems and structures (human capital and resources) and piloted a public-private-partnership (PPP) model as anticipated in the grant.AGRA has also conducted the necessary environmental and ecological assessments, and developed a result tracking and impact measurement system. Following this success, the event marked the launch of a second four year implementation and upscaling phase starting July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2020.

Major Initiative to Boost Cold Storage Capacity in Africa Launched at World Economic Forum in Rwanda

Post-harvest losses, accounting for more than 40 per cent of potatoes, fruits, vegetables and other perishables lost before reaching the consumers are a major impediment to the development and transformation of the African agricultural sector into the motor of economic growth that it should be.These losses do not only amount to wasted resources and reduced returns on investment but also impact negatively on food and nutrition security of many communities across the continent.To address this problem, AGRA and UPL Limited, through a major Public Private Partnership launched the “Million Tons of Cold Storage in Africa Initiative”. The initiative aims to mobilize USD 2 Billion in the next decade to set-up cold storage facilities with a capacity of a million tons across Sub-Saharan Africa.The partnership aims to revolutionize African agriculture and bring it to par with the rest of the world through the creation of innovative supply chains and energy efficient cold storage systems.Work on setting up three cold storage projects has already started in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. These projects–which are expected to be constructed and fully functional by the end of 2017, will be presented as a proof of concept and successful case examples of the proposed multi-partner consortium approach in setting up of viable cold storage chains across Sub-Saharan Africa.

AGRA and IDRC Scaling up post-harvest management innovations for grain legumes in Africa

A 36-month project to scale up the use of post harvest technologies across sub-Saharan Africa was launched in 2016. Financed by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and implemented by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the CAD 2.889 million (USD 2.155 million) project will support applied research to bring effective, field-tested innovations for reducing post-harvest loss of soybeans and cowpeas to thousands of smallholder farmers in Mozambique and Burkina Faso. Both organizations believe that reducing post-harvest losses, increasing the quality of produce and improving access to agricultural markets are key to sustaining the productivity-driven transformation of the agricultural sector. .In the short term, the innovations will benefit at least 10,000 smallholder farmers, with up to 60,000 farmers being involved by 2020.Reducing these losses is increasingly becoming important as the demand for food increases with population rise; as part of the push to strengthen farmers’ resilience in the face of a changing climate; and to take full advantage of the continent’s food demand, which the World Bank projects will triple from $313 million in 2010 to $1 trillion by 2030.Soybean and cowpeas were selected for this project as they are a critical secondary food, providing essential affordable proteins as well as calories to the diets of the poor. The market opportunities for both crops are also growing, offering prospects to increase income for those farmers producing a marketable surplus.

Renewed Push to Boost Agriculture Investments in Kenya

The Kenyan Government launched a critical phase of its ambitious agriculture development strategy and agreed on a roadmap for making crop and livestock production a powerful engine for economic growth in Kenya. Organized in partnership with the AUC and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency, AGRA & Africa Lead— the Government evaluated and refined Kenya’s National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP), the core blueprint for revitalizing crop, livestock and fisheries production in Kenya. Agriculture employs 75 percent of Kenyans but has yet to reach its potential to boost food security, nutrition and incomes—particularly for the country’s poorest people. This process is one of a series of meetings being held over the next 12 months across Africa to revamp national agriculture investment plans linked to the CAADP process.Informing the discussion for the investment strategy is a soon to be released assessment of Kenya’s progress to date that finds increased spending in agriculture is clearly boosting production and profits. But the analysis also finds that public sector investments in Kenya are still short of the commitment by CAADP signatories to allocate 10 percent of national budgets to agriculture. It also shows that while the annual growth in agricultural productivity has reached 4.8 percent in Kenya, that’s still below the 6 percent CAADP target.

Delegates at the 2016 AGRF adopt the Nairobi Communiqué identifying critical commitments for Africa

At the 2016 AGRF, important commitments were ratified to act as medium-term objectives to realize the ambitious goals laid out in the 2014 Malabo Declaration and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the next 16 months before the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit and CAADP biennial review in January 2018, the AGRF partners pledged to: pursue a political, policy and business agenda intended to accelerate smallholder-inclusive agricultural transformation in at least 20 countries; unlock at least US $200 billion in investment in African agriculture; and develop a concise agricultural transformation scorecard for accountability and action under the leadership of African Union institutions.

They are captured in the following nine action points:

Refresh investment plans to unlock 10 percent of public expenditure on agriculture that can be clearly leveraged to attract significant additional resources from private sector and other partners.

Actualize commitments made by the private sector through platforms such as Grow Africa or others to bring at least US $20 billion of private investment into African agriculture and galvanize broader investment.

Develop and launch innovative financing mechanisms, including small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) agricultural financing mechanisms such as incentive-based risk-sharing facilities for agricultural lending, social impact bonds, catalytic financing facilities and agriculture-relevant e-wallet and digital financing mechanisms.

Support at least 20 countries to develop their agriculture transformation agenda, including identification and significant scaling up of five priority value chains per country with strong links to smallholder agriculture, strong focus on youth employment and a commitment to building resilience to shocks to the agriculture system.

Identify and unlock five main policy and regulatory bottlenecks per country that are inhibiting agriculture sector growth.

Establish and support agriculture transformation delivery mechanisms appropriately tailored to the national context and needs in at least 10 countries.

Support countries to strengthen capacities, including the cultivation of a new wave of public and private sector agriculture transformation leaders.

Produce and use an agriculture transformation scorecard at the heart of the CAADP biennial review process, including a one-page snapshot for Heads of State.

Hold at least two Ministerial peer review roundtables prior to the 2018 African Union Heads of State and Government Summit to challenge and validate emerging biennial review reports and actions.

More than US $30 Billion Commited to African Agriculture

It was a blockbuster moment for African agriculture as African leaders, businesses, and major development partners pledged more than US $30 billion dollars in investments to increase production, income and employment for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses over the next ten years. The collective pledges at the 2016 AGRF are purhaps the largest package of financial commitments to the African agricultural sector to date, backed by the broadest coalitions ever assembled in support of food production on the continent.The commitments were made at the official opening of the sixth African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) that brokered new agricultural initiatives. The historic investments represent just the first wave of support for the “Seize the Moment” campaign, one backed by the African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), key NGOs, companies and donor countries.Agriculture investors and development partners that announced new financial and policy commitments included: The African Development Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group, OCP Africa, World Food Programme, Yara International ASA, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

AGRA President Tops 2016 African Women of the year in Agriculture, Mining and Architecture

AGRA’s president Dr. Agnes Kalibata topped the list of 2016’s African Women of the year in Agriculture, Mining and Architecture.The recognition, made by the readers of the New African Woman Magazine, is a great validation of Dr. Kalibata’s efforts towards a food secure Africa. The magazine has described Dr. Kalibata as a “Rwandese Phenomenon” who has revolutionized African Agriculture over the last decade.Dr. Kalibata leads AGRA’s efforts with the participation of public and private partners towards ensuring a food secure Africa through rapid, sustainable agricultural growth and improved productivity by empowering millions of smallholder farmers.In 2012, Dr. Kalibata received the Yara Prize, now the Africa Food Prize for transforming Rwanda’s Agriculture in a relatively short period of time. She is a distinguished agricultural scientist, policy maker and thought leader and holds a PhD in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The YieldWise Initiative - Reducing post-harvest waste in sub-Saharan Africa

Farm by farm, truckload by truckload, shelf by shelf: As food makes its way from farm to market to table, a substantial portion of it goes bad or gets thrown away before it can be eaten. On a worldwide scale, the waste adds up to a significant amount. As much as one-third of all food produced is lost after harvest. In 2016, The Rockefeller Foundation launched YieldWise, a $130 million initiative, with the goal of demonstrating how the world can halve food loss by 2030, one of the UN’s sustainable development goals. We will initially focus on fruits, vegetables, and staple crops in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania, where up to half of all food grown is lost.Rockefeller has partnered with AGRA, to reduce waste throughout the food value chain—targeting maize in Tanzania. By reducing waste, the 470 million smallholder farms in the region can directly feed more people, and we can help extend economic benefits beyond farmers to traders, distributors, sellers, and consumers.YieldWise seeks to Fix broken links in the chain from farms to markets in African communities; Help farmers access technologies and solutions to curb preventable crop loss; Invest in financing models and technology innovations that drive mutual economic growth; and Engage global businesses in accounting for the food lost and wasted in their supply chains, beyond their own factories.

State of Art Seed Management Facilities Open at the University of Nairobi

Africa’s capacity to produce seed of high-yielding varieties of staple food crops received a major boost with the launch of a modern seed processing facility and a seed laboratory at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. The seed processing unit will be used as a training resource for local seed companies and for processing seed from the University Seed Company (UNISEED). It will also offer processing services for local seed companies that do not have adequate internal capability. These new facilities form part of the Seed Enterprise Management Institute (SEMIs), a training facility for managers of seed companies from around the region. Availability of high yielding and quality seed remains low in sub-Saharan Africa where, on average, only 20 percent of the farmers use improved seeds. This greatly affects productivity, economic growth and the attainment of food and nutrition security targets.The new facilities will enable the institute to train more seed specialists from across the continent. So far, SEMIs has trained close to 850 specialists including personnel from over 100 seed companies from 16 African countries since its inception in 2011. Postgraduate students pursuing plant breeding and seed related

disciplines who train at the institute will also benefit from the facilities. In addition, the facility will be used in the multiplication of seed of high-yielding bean varieties bred at the University’s 13-acre breeding station. Currently, the institute is multiplying foundation seed of six recently-released bean varieties that have been licensed to the Kenya Seed Company. This has been a major success with, for instance, over 2.5 tons of breeders’ seed produced and handed over to Kenya Seed Company for further multiplication and production of certified seeds for the mass market.

About SEMIs

The Seed Enterprise Management Institute (SEMIs) is a collaborative project between the University of Nairobi’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences (CAVS), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Iowa State University (ISU), the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute (KALRO), the Kenya Seed Company, a host of agricultural consultants, and private and public institutions involved in seed production.

AGRA/SSTP Master Farmer Gets Innovation Award in Malawi

Keledoniya Nkhonyo, a farmer from central Malawi has been recognized as part of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s Annual Innovation Awards, for her efforts in encouraging her local community to adopt technology and practices that transform smallholder agriculture.Keledoniya received her award in recognition of her work with the ‘Master Farmer’ series, where farmers are trained in how to adopt improved seeds for varieties including Maize, sweet potato and beans and better farming practices. She is one of the 120 farmers involved in the Master Farmer project, an edutainment multimedia campaign implemented by Story Workshop, a local development communications NGO, promoting the adoption of improved seeds and their associated technologies among smallholder farmers in Malawi. Workshop Education Trust is funded by Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership in Africa (SSTP) an initiative between the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and USAID that is working to deliver improved seed and technologies to farmers.Master Farmer helps guide Malawians into conceptualizing the effective use of science and technology, innovative approaches in farming to address the bottlenecks of low productivity in the system by promoting improved practices.

Financial Inclusion through technological innovations driving Africa’s agricultural transformation

Financial inclusion is a key enabler to reducing poverty and boosting prosperity on the continent. Access to financeenables businesses to expand, creating jobs and reducing inequality. Financial inclusion is the bridge between economic opportunity and outcome. Rural smallholder families remain the most financially excluded households in the world. Affordable financial products and services that make smallholder farmers’ lives less risky need to be developed, promoted and offered in a timely and affordable mannerIn 2016, AGRA developed and closed 10 partnership contracts in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania with a total value of USD 5 million. As a result of these partnerships, 500,000 smallholder farmers are expected to access newly developed financial services including: Buying inputs through a ‘lay away’ scheme using mobile money; Ordering inputs at discounted prices and selling produce through the mobile phone; Accessing mechanization services through ‘Uber for tractors’; and Insurance against risks such as drought, through scratch cards in seed packages; Receiving ‘cash on delivery’ through their mobile phones while selling to professional buyers; Benefiting from mobile money advances based on produce stored; and Receiving and making payments at vicinity shops operating as mobile money agents.

 Farmers will also be able to make interest bearing investments with the proceeds of the sales of their produce through the mobile phones and opening and operate a bank account from the shops cum bank agent outlets. FISFAP funded by the MasterCard Foundation is a US$15million, five-year project that aims to improve food security and incomes by 2019 to over 700,000 farmers in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. FISFAP seeks to enable partnerships between financial service providers, value chain actors such as agro dealers and aggregators, and mobile network operators to develop appropriate and affordable (digital) products and services for smallholders.Some of FISFAP’s partners include KCB Group and Umati Capital in Kenya, First Allied Savings & Loan in Ghana and ETC Agro and Positive International Ltd both in Tanzania.

Brewing Up Cassava as a Cash-Crop in Mozambique

Today there are thousands of smallholder farmers in northern Mozambique who previously grew the hardy tuber cassava mainly as food for their families—with many routinely falling short of achieving even that goal. Now they are producing a significant surplus of cassava and selling it for a profit to a national brewery that developed the world’s first commercial cassava beer.The work started a few years ago, when AGRA-supported scientists at Mozambique’s Institute of Agricultural Research (known by its Portuguese acronym IIAM) developed a new variety of cassava that offers improved starch qualities and the ability to withstand the brown streak virus that had been devastating cassava crops across the region.Because cassava is propagated with plant cuttings, not with seed, they needed to produce enough cuttings to cover thousands of smallholder farmers. Adding an incentive was the prospect that the Mozambique brewing company Cervejas de Moçambique (CDM), a division of SAB Miller, would work with smallholder farmers to serve as suppliers for Impala, the world’s first commercially made cassava beer.Ultimately, all of these element came together to create a supply network of thousands of farmers for Impala beer, which was developed to provide an alternative to home-brewed cassava beers that had a dangerous tendency to become toxic and deadly.

AGRA’s Program Securing Africa’s Seed Technology and Soil Management Research Capacity

For the farmers to fully harness this potential, concerted efforts must be made to optimize their yields. Key to increasing yields is access to good quality seeds of improved varieties of a wide range of priority staple crops.

Although the continent has made major strides in the production of such seeds, these efforts are hampered by the acute shortage of world-class plant breeding specialists. At the moment, the continent has less than 500 active crop breeders working in the public sector, which is about a tenth of the recommended number. Unlike the Developed World, in Africa the generation of improved crop varieties by plant breeders is still the preserve of the public sector.

Unfortunately, the capacity to substantially increase the numbers of scientists remains low as most universities only have one to two academic plant breeders which limits the numbers of people that can be trained. Training of Plant Breeders is also done by public universities, with little government funding necessitating the need for other players to fund this.

Bridging this gap for trainers and funding calls for innovative approaches that leverage existing opportunities. One model that AGRA and its partners have pioneered involves funding training programs in universities that collaborate with the extensive network of research institutions that exist on the continent including the National Research Systems (NARS) and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) centers, international universities and private seed companies.

Through the Education for Africa’s Crop Improvement (EACI) programme, AGRA funds PhD and MSc training in partnership with 14 universities in 10 countries across the continent

The programme also offers short-term training of plant breeding technicians in partnership with regional research centres. By 2016, a total of 480 post graduate students – 152 PhD and 330 MSc and 152 plant breeding technicians (from mostly NARS) from 20 countries have been sponsored since inception of the program.

These students have greatly benefited from the partnership. The courses are presented by university lecturers and industry specialists while practical training is provided by the attachment of the students to the research centres and private seed companies. This affords them an opportunity to interact with and learn directly from experienced specialists.

The students also conduct their research embedded in the NARS and CGIAR research programs ensuring effective training and immediate utilization of their research results into relevant on-going research, with a clear goal of delivering new crop varieties. The research centers provide the students with the ideal working environment for research. Senior scientists at these research centres also, co-supervise the students.

Scientists trained in this programme have developed over 130 improved varieties of a wide range of crops including maize, rice, finger millet, sorghum, cowpeas, groundnuts, beans, cassava and sweet potato in 15 countries in the continent. These varieties have been licensed to and commercialized by private seed companies, making them accessible to smallholder farmers by a network of agro-dealers – who were also trained by AGRA – and are helping farmers to multiply their yields.

Improved Crop Varieties Released in the DRC

Farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are reaping the benefits of extensive evaluations of improved crop varieties in North and South Kivu that culminated in the release of 14 new and improved varieties of three critical food crops in 2016. Agricultural authorities from DRC’s “Service National des Semences” (SENASEM) have announced that 3 new varieties of maize, 1 variety of cassava, and 10 varieties of an assortment of both climbing beans and bush beans will be available to farmers immediately. They will also be listed in the national crop variety catalogue.The release of these seeds marks a landmark moment in the country, as it is, for example, the first time a hybrid maize variety has been released and commercialized for use by farmers in the DRC. The released cassava variety is likewise the first ever available to farmers with resistance to the devastating cassava brown streak disease. These varieties were tested and proposed for release by DRC’s national agricultural research institute, INERA. This work was sponsored by Partners for Seed in Africa (PASA), implemented by AGRA with funding from the Howard G. Buffett FoundationThe newly-available seeds will not only benefit the farmers but also the country’s nascent private seed sector, as private seed companies operating in DRC will now be allowed to fully commercialize and produce certified seeds of these varieties for sale to farmers. PASA has also supported the establishment of five local private seed companies in the DRC.

GIRSAL to Boost Economic Growth and Development

The statistics indicate that even though, on average, the agricultural sector accounts for about 22 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the sector receives an average of only 4.0 per cent of bank lending, due to the perception that lending risk is too high to motivate financing by the private financial sector. Expansion in agricultural production can only become possible with the availability of more financing— and using the value chain approach to financing agriculture is regarded as an important innovation. The Bank of Ghana (BoG), with technical guidance and support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), has, therefore, initiated a vehicle to leverage lending for agriculture and agribusiness through a risk-sharing scheme. The initiative, an innovative model of financing dubbed: “Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending” (GIRSAL) was designed by AGRA, and has been successfully implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Under the scheme, BoG will facilitate the process of encouraging private financial sector financing of the full agricultural value chain by stimulating the desire of banks to finance agriculture and agribusiness in Ghana. The GIRSAL model has six pillars that, together, seek to reduce both the potential and real risks associated with lending to agriculture and agribusiness. These pillars are the Risk-sharing Facility, Technical Assistance Facility, Agri-business insurance, Bank Rating Scheme, Bank Incentive Mechanism and Digital Finance.