Partnerships for Productivity and Sustainability In Africa

Public-private partnerships to increase the productivity and sustainability of agriculture and food systems allow the participants to share the risks, responsibilities and benefits of their joint expertise.  These partnerships are strengthened by the active participation of producers who provide local expertise, in addition to their labor, land and water resources. The buy-in of local leaders and community members help ensure the long-term viability of the partnership.

Across Africa, public-private-producer partnerships are driving agricultural productivity from the ground up!  This page contains a selection of partnership stories from recent editions of the Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®).


Registering Land Title in Benin

Photo credit: Ann Steensland/GHI

In Benin, agricultural productivity growth has been suppressed by the absence of written ownership records and a customary land tenure system that can make land transactions difficult.

Many families lack legal evidence of tenure and the boundaries of landholding are often disputed, even within the family.

As part of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact between the U.S. and Benin governments, the MCC invested $31 million (USD) in the Access to Land Project to support land policy reforms, strengthen the land tenure security of landholders and support rural land governance.

In 2007, Benin passed a Rural Landholding Law, which recognized customary tenure rights as equal to civil property rights. The Compact worked to extend Benin’s pilot efforts at establishing community-level rural landholding plans, or Plan Foncier Rural (PFR).

PFRs are implemented at the village level and attempt to demarcate the boundaries of parcels, including agricultural fields. Residents in PFR villages were able to receive, for a fee, individual land use certificates, which constitute legal evidence of recorded land rights.

An independent randomized control trial evaluation, measuring early results (approximately one year after PFRs were issued) found that land demarcation through the PFR led to an increase in long-term investments, such as tree planting and perennial crops. In addition, women in PFR villages were more likely to leave land fallow — an important soil conservation practice.

The final evaluation of the Access to Land Project will assess whether there was a continued increase in long-term investment, as well as increases in agriculture output, farm yields and the use of productivity-enhancing inputs such as labor, fertilizer and improved seeds.


Strengthen Maize Value Chains

Photo Cred: Ann Steensland/GHI

Maize, a staple crop grown by small-scale farmers throughout Africa, is the primary source of calories for many rural people.  But most small-scale farmers use lower-yielding open pollinated varieties (OPVs) of maize seed which means they have less maize to eat and less maize to sell.

Corteva Agriscience, the Agriculture Division of DowDupont is working with international donors and African partners to improve the productivity of maize and increase farmer access to markets.

The Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (AMSAP) provides farmers in Ethiopia with hybrid maize seed and advisory services. Participants also receive training in basic agronomy and financial and market literacy to build their capacity to engage with financial institutions and commodity buyers.

To help farmers process and store their increased maize output, AMSAP installed shellers and storage units in 16 villages and built new grain warehouses that have reduced postharvest losses.

AMSAP has reached 250,000 farmers in just four years, more than double the original five-year projection. Farmers have experienced productivity increases of 300 percent.

The AMSAP program is being replicated in other countries, including the Zambia Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (ZAMSAP), which launched in 2015.


Empowering Women in the Coffee Value Chain

To meet projected global demand, coffee production will need to increase three-fold by 2050.

To meet this demand in a way that protects the fragile ecosystems where coffee is produced, small-scale farmers must increase their productivity, otherwise a land area four times the size of Costa Rica may be put into production.

One of the major constraints to increasing the productivity and sustainability of coffee production is that women contribute most of the labor for planting, harvesting, processing and sorting coffee beans, and yet the key elements of production, including land, agricultural inputs, credit, training and market information, are controlled by men.

In Ethiopia, farmer cooperatives are not segregated by gender. With advice and support, coffee farmer cooperatives could potentially give women more influence in coffee production and marketing.

In 2016, ACDI/VOCA, a leader in agricultural value chain development, began a pilot project with two coffee cooperatives in Ethiopia that expressed an interest in improving their gender equity.

As part of the program, the cooperatives nominated a gender-balanced group made up of male and female spouses, female household heads, single males and cooperative leaders. The participants attended workshops on gender issues and developed plans to improve gender equity in their organization and leadership. ACDI/VOCA has provided a gender advisor to assist the cooperatives and monitor their progress.


Agronomic Training Goes Mobile

Photo Cred: Technoserve

Accessing education and new agricultural innovation can be challenging for small-scale farmers who have limited connection to formal institutions and extension systems as they seek to improve the productivity and sustainability of their farms.

A partnership between John Deere Foundation and Technoserve (an international development organization) is helping farmers in Kenya and Ghana learn the business and science of farming.

The Mobile Training Unit (MTU) program uses video technology to bring agronomic information to farmers in remote communities that have limited access to extension services. The project combines agricultural and business training in several important value chains: dairy, horticulture and maize in Kenya and rice, sorghum, maize, cowpeas and soy in Ghana.

To reinforce the video presentations, Technoserve establishes demonstration plots where farmers receive continuing education in applying agronomic best practices.

At the same time, the project staff works to build the capacity of financial institutions and input dealers to meet the needs of small-scale farmers, while creating linkages between the farmers and agricultural processors.

Launched in 2013, the project’s first phase reached roughly 20,000 farmers, surpassing its target by more than 40 percent, with an impressive 65 percent of farmers adopting some of the practices they learned through the MTU.

By 2015, approximately 33,000 farmers had benefited from the MTU program, increasing their yields and generating up to $15.5 million in incremental revenue.


Strengthening the Tomato Value Chain to Improve Nutrition

Photo Cred: Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

In Nigeria, nearly 30 percent of children under the age of five are vitamin A deficient, a condition that can lead to blindness and increased risk of disease and premature death.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and Nigerian farmers produced 1.8 million metric tons of tomatoes in 2010, making their country the 16th largest producer in the world. But the tomato supply chain is poorly organized and underdeveloped, and as a result half of the annual tomato harvest never reaches the market.

Meanwhile, Nigeria imported 150,000 metric tons of processed tomato products in 2014, valued at $160 million. The Geneva-based Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has convened a coalition to develop solutions for reducing tomato losses that are market-based, nutritionally focused, locally adaptable and financially sustainable.

The Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN) brings leaders from government, finance and academia together with representatives from Nigeria’s tomato industry, including aggregators, processors, packagers, and cold chain operators.

The Alliance is targeting specific elements in the supply chain for improvement: crating and cooling technologies to protect prevent spoilage; a larger more reliable fleet of transport vehicles; new processing technologies and financing models to increase capacity; and outgrower schemes to link processors with farmers.

Growers, traders and processors also need technical assistance in negotiating contracts, tracking inventories, re-tooling and maintaining machinery, food safety protocols and networking within the industry. Businesses with the capacity to scale-up and innovate are receiving technical assistance and access to grants or affordable financing so that they can experiment with technologies and implement new approaches.

Strengthening the tomato value chain will not only give Nigerian producers access to a robust and growing market, it will also provide low-income consumers a safe, affordable source of nutritious food that will improve the health of millions of children.

South Africa

Biotech Maize Reduces Labor for South African Women Farmers

With many men in rural areas leaving for urban work and physical labor made more difficult due to the disease burden of HIV/AIDS, there is a substantial need for technologies that support African women in their agricultural roles. Photo credit: CIMMYT

Labor demands on women during peak agricultural cycles of land preparation, planting and weeding actually hinder the ability of farmers to increase crop yields and to diversify their farm operations.

South Africa is the only country where small-scale farmers have been growing genetically modified (GM) maize, their primary subsistence crop. GM maize seeds were first sold in South Africa since 1988 and by 2012, 85 percent of all maize grown in South Africa was GM.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the University of Pretoria in South Africa conducted research in small-scale farmer communities over eight cropping seasons as well as qualitative research with men and women in separate small groups to examine the relative gender impact of GM maize adoption in Kwa Zulu Natal Province.

These farmers were selected because they had previously participated in demonstration workshops organized in 2001 by Monsanto Company (recently acquired by Bayer AG) and had adopted Monsanto maize with traits for pesticide resistance and/or drought tolerance.

In comparison with conventional maize producing households, the research found that both men and women preferred GM maize varieties because they saved time and labor while providing higher yields.

Adult female household members reduced weeding time by 10 to 12 days, a significant time savings that enabled them to spend more time growing nutritious foods or taking care of their families.  This represents a substantial reduction in physical drudgery, as women normally perform this task in the maize production cycle.


Off the Farm and Out of the Kitchen

With the support of U.S. Government funding and other donor programs, Purdue University and Senegal’s l’Institut de Technologie Alimentaire (ITA) have transferred cereal processing technologies and trained Madame Astou Gaye Mbacke, pictured here, and her employees to use them. Photo credit: Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Processing and Post-Harvest Handling

In addition to increasing the productivity of women on the farm, it is essential to create opportunities for women to earn income and build businesses along the agricultural value chain.

Madame Astou Gaye Mbacke, owner of Touba Darou Salam Cereal Processing Unit in Touba City, Senegal, uses innovative cereal grain processing technologies to produce affordable, high quality flour products.

In addition to employing about 100 women in her processing facility, Mbacke sells her products to women distributors who are part of a nationwide network called the Groupement d’intérêt économique (GIE). GIE distributors buy their products at a discount and sell them for a considerable profit in urban markets, earning income to meet their household needs and to reinvest in their own businesses.

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Processing and Post-Harvest Handling in collaboration with the Education and Research in Agriculture Project funded by USAID are partnering with Mbacke to introduce low-cost extrusion technology, a precooking process for instant cereal grain products that are shelf-stable, safe and convenient.

For the first time, Senegalese consumers will be able to purchase nutritious locally-produced, grain-based instant foods, such as thick porridge (lakh), thin porridge (rouye) and weaning foods that are fortified with nutrient-rich local plant concentrates. By adding boiling water to the enriched instant flour, any family member can prepare a nutritious meal, freeing up women for other productive household and business activities.

East and Southern Africa

Drought Tolerant Maize Seed for Africa

Photo credit: Ann Steensland/GHI

Maize is the primary source of calories for more than 300 million Africans, but frequent droughts and rising temperatures are threatening this vital food source, as well as the livelihoods of farmers across the region.

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) partnership* is developing hybrid maize seed that uses water more efficiently and resists insects and pests for use by small-scale farmers who rely on maize for food and income.

As a leading WEMA partner, Monsanto Company (recently acquired by Bayer AG) shared 600 elite parental lines of maize seed, along with technical plant breeding know-how and biotech drought-tolerant and insect protection traits. Monsanto also leveraged the expertise of local research partners to develop locally adapted hybrid maize.

The first harvest of WEMA white hybrid maize seed took place in Kenya in February 2014. Farmers experienced improved grain yield under both optimal and drought stress conditions, harvesting 4.5 tons per hectare compared to 1.8 tons per hectare harvested in the first farmer-managed demonstration trials.

WEMA is now delivering conventional seeds under the brand DroughtTEGO™ with 40 new hybrids approved for commercial release and more in the development pipeline. Seed licenses are available, royalty-free, to all seed companies, and more than 20 seed companies have made these seeds commercially available to African farmers.

The WEMA project has made great strides, successfully delivering its first drought tolerant conventional hybrid seed to farmers in Kenya a year ahead of schedule. The first WEMA seed commercial crop harvest was completed in early 2014 and, on average, farmers more than doubled their maize harvests in comparison to previous harvests from open pollinated seed varieties saved year after year.

*Water Efficient Maize in Africa (WEMA) is led by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Key WEMA partners include the National Agricultural Research Institutes in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and Monsanto. DroughtTEGO™ is a registered trademark of AATF.

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