IFDC Develops Sustainable Value Chains and Increases Profitable Agriculture in West Africa
3 Harvesting rice in West Africa.
The global food crisis sparked by the surge of oil and commodity prices in 2007-2008 accentuated the need for West African countries to base their poverty and hunger reduction strategies on regional agricultural production and consumption solutions. Through two key regional economic communities (RECs) – the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) – West African governments pledged to make agriculture a lever for regional integration. IFDC supports UEMOA and ECOWAS in implementing their regional vision of a sustainable and profitable agricultural sector based on productive family farms and viable agricultural enterprises. Working through national and regional projects, IFDC contributes to increases in productivity and the competitiveness of West African agriculture. 8
Developing Efficient Value Chains Through Agribusiness Clusters
IFDC implements a holistic approach to promote productive, sustainable and market-oriented agricultural systems. In West Africa, agribusiness clusters are created around profitable crops such as maize, soybeans, shea butter, fish and honey. These clusters bring together all the stakeholders that can further the development of efficient value chains – farmers, agro-dealers, transporters, processors, traders, bankers and other service providers. A value chain links the numerous steps along the ‘chain’ that a product takes from the farmer to the ultimate consumer. Through the From Thousands to Millions (1000s+) project, IFDC partnered with both public and private organizations to
promote agribusiness in seven West African countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. These partnerships resulted in 218 agribusiness clusters working to develop sustainable and profitable commodity value chains. Over 700,000 farmers and thousands of small enterprises have seen their incomes increase and living conditions improve.
Linking Farmers to Markets
Sustainable agricultural intensification needs a carefully assembled strategy that links the highly diverse farming systems of smallholder farmers to specialized supply chains, strengthens the competencies of the various participants and also addresses the fundamental causes of market failure. One of the most successful methods IFDC has used to increase the number of farmers moving into commercial agriculture is Competitive Agricultural Systems and Enterprises (CASE). Using the CASE solution, smallholder farmers are integrated into local, national, regional and global value chains organized around specific crops or commodities. IFDC not only helps strengthen and professionalize producers but supports growth in agro-inputs, the transportation infrastructure and the processing and marketing industries that facilitate agribusiness expansion and strengthen value chains. The AGRA-funded Linking Farmers to Markets (FtM) project facilitates this process in northern Ghana
Creating a Favorable Policy Environment for Agricultural Input Market Development
Regulating supply and demand for agro-inputs and formulating effective cross-border trade policies are critical steps to create an enabling environment for competitive agro-input production and trade. These are among the objectives of the MIR+ project. The liberalization of fertilizer procurement and distribution in the region without adequate regulatory instruments encourages the circulation (within and between countries) of short-weight, nutrient deficient, misbranded and/or adulterated fertilizer products. With technical support from IFDC, ECOWAS and UEMOA initiated the process to harmonize national legal frameworks for fertilizer quality control with an emphasis on truth-in-labeling for fertilizers traded in the region. IFDC also helped finalize a number of implementing regulations related to seed certification and pesticide registration, which are to be adopted by ECOWAS statutory bodies. IFDC also helps harmonize national legal frameworks for the production and trade of seeds and pesticides.
Because markets play a central role in agricultural development, IFDC focuses on linking farmers to local and export markets through increased collaboration with the private sector in project development and implementation.
Improving Access to Agro-Input Information
Among the major constraints to increased and efficient use of agro-inputs is a lack of technical and market information. IFDC has helped the RECs set up a regional agro-input information system to ensure farmers’ access to timely, reliable information related to input quality, best practices, prices and benefits. In the framework of the MIR+ project, a data collection network has been established in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. Data on seeds, fertilizers and crop protection products are collected from 120 agro-dealers and 63 enumerators and posted on the Réseau des Systèmes d’Information des Marchés Agricoles de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (RESIMAO). The data are collated and disseminated through multiple channels including short message services and rural radio programs. Monthly fertilizer price reports are produced with data from over 100 collection points. This initiative is expected to be extended to all West African countries in 2012.
Healthy produce in a Ghanaian marketplace.
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Sustainable Value Chains (Continued from Page 9)
Enhancing Agro-Input Accessibility
Quality agro-dealer services and networks Ensuring timely access to quality agro-inputs at reasonable prices for farmers and their organizations is a major challenge in most African countries. IFDC seeks to improve fertilizer supply and distribution systems by strengthening the technical and managerial capacities of agro-dealers and facilitating their access to credit to ensure timely provision of quality inputs to smallholder farmers. Smart subsidies The New Partnership for Africaâ€™s Development (NEPAD) commissioned a study of fertilizer subsidy programs in eight African countries. According to NEPAD, subsidizing agroinputs was one response by governments to the world food crisis. But many subsidized products do not reach farmers and government subsidies tend to crowd out the emerging private sector. IFDC has introduced the voucher program, a system for administering subsidies for agro-input procurement and use. This program uses trained private sector agro-dealers to put subsidized inputs in the hands of the targeted beneficiaries, enabling them to enter the market economy. The voucher program has been successfully implemented by IFDC in Nigeria where more than 16,000 mt of mineral fertilizers were distributed to 171,000 farmers in four states in 2010, with
private sector sales totaling $10.6 million. IFDC informs and promotes this market-friendly approach to national and regional policymakers.
Updating Fertilizer Recommendations in West Africa
Most recommendations for fertilizer use in West Africa were written decades ago and are obsolete. Moreover, they are standardized and uniform regardless of the diversity of soils, crops, cropping systems and/or the changing context in which smallholder farmers are operating. IFDC initiated efforts to revise fertilizer recommendations in Benin, Burkina Faso and Ghana, focusing on staple crops (sorghum, maize and cassava) and other important crops including cocoa. The work was based on quantitative modeling and spatial tools to simulate crop growth and generate cropand site-specific recommendations using tools such as the Quantitative Evaluation of the Fertility of Tropical Soils (QUEFTS) and the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer Geographic Information System (DSSAT-GIS). With technical support from IFDC and other partners, ECOWAS and UEMOA are now supporting a concerted effort to define an action plan for updating national fertilizer recommendations for key crops in the region.
AndrĂŠ de Jager (left), acting director of IFDCâ€™s North and West Africa Division, visiting agro-dealers in Kano State, Nigeria.
ISFM practices in use on a maize field.
Promoting Innovative Agricultural Technologies in West Africa
IFDC introduced FDP, a technology that has great potential for boosting rice production. When farmers use FDP, they place supergranules of fertilizer (either urea or a combination of fertilizers) several centimeters deep in the soil to improve nitrogen use efficiency, which results in much greater yields while using less fertilizer and reducing environmental damage. ECOWAS and UEMOA are strongly committed to supporting a regional effort to promote FDP technology across West Africa. IFDC promotes ISFM for the sustainable intensification of West African agriculture. ISFM combines the use of mineral fertilizers with organic soil amendments (crop residues, compost and green manure) and other improved crop, soil and water
management practices to increase agricultural productivity while protecting the environment and maintaining or enhancing the soil resource base. Master trainers from 13 West African countries are disseminating theoretical and practical knowledge about ISFM within the region. IFDC’s collaborative work with UEMOA and ECOWAS has helped change policies and activities to advance regional integration in West Africa. Successes in West Africa over the past 20 years prompted IFDC and its partners to disseminate ISFM and CASE approaches in East and Southern Africa within the framework of a continentwide initiative to improve food security and rural livelihoods.
Policy Proposal in Nigeria Will Increase Use of Cassava To use cassava more effectively and eliminate excess cassava in the market, the Federal Government of Nigeria has proposed reviving a policy and enacting legislation that bakeries use 10 percent cassava flour in their products. While Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava producer, the use of cassava in food, beverage and commercial products has not been maximized and its farmers remain among Africa’s poorest. Scott Wallace, IFDC country representative in Nigeria, believes that the proposed policy will boost both cassava production and utilization. IFDC’s Cassava Plus project is teaching projectaffiliated farmers new production techniques that improve cassava yields. “We are helping these farmers move from
subsistence production to smallholder commercial production,” Wallace said. “They are learning how to maximize yields while lowering costs.” IFDC’s partner, the Dutch Agricultural Development & Trading Company (DADTCO), is providing project farmers a guaranteed market for their produce. Cassava spoils rapidly after harvest. To reduce the time and cost of transporting cassava to the processing factory, DADTCO is sending autonomous mobile processing units (AMPUs) to three locations near participating farmers’ fields in Taraba State. The AMPUs perform the first stage of processing; the resulting cassava ‘cake’ is taken to DADTCO’s factory in Jalingo for further processing. 11