IFDC, the International Centre for development oriented Research in Agriculture (ICRA) and Base of the Pyramid Innovation Center (BoP Inc.) are promoting sustainable agricultural production and commodity chain development across Africa through the five-year (2012-2016) Toward Sustainable Clusters in Agribusiness through Learning in Entrepreneurship (2SCALE) project. Funded by the Netherlands’ Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), the project focuses on the development of competitive rural agricultural systems, viable agro-enterprises and the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs).
2SCALE targets eight countries with which the Netherlands has multi-year bilateral development relationships – Benin, Ethiopia,Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, South Sudan and Uganda. 2SCALE also targets Nigeria because of its importance to the West African economy and to the development of Benin’s agro-food sector and because of the potential to implement successful PPPs with private sector partners. In addition, ongoing agribusiness cluster activities will continue for approximately two years in Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo.
In each country, 2SCALE staff members will work with local, national and international partners to improve rural livelihoods, nutrition and food security. The project’s strategic objective is to develop a portfolio of 500 robust and viable agribusiness clusters (ABCs) and value chains, supplying food to regional, national and local markets as well as to the least fortunate (also known as base-of-the-pyramid [BoP] consumers). 2SCALE will also transfer knowledge on best agricultural practices and leverage the impact of its activities through collaboration with other projects and related activities of the embassies of the Netherlands and national and international agro-food companies.
Building on a Proven Concept
Other successful projects have emphasized IFDC’s Competitive Agricultural Systems and Enterprises (CASE) approach and the benefits of PPPs. 2SCALE will expand the CASE and PPP solutions in the nine target countries. IFDC and others have shown that private sector-driven interventions can significantly improve agricultural development in Africa. Using CASE, IFDC proved that participants in an ABC can generate substantial, successful and sustainable smallholder-based agricultural development. In IFDC’s From Thousands to Millions (1000s+) project, nearly 425,000 farmers and over 1,500 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in seven West African countries were linked effectively to markets. Farmers’ agricultural productivity almost doubled, while their incomes increased by 30 percent.
2SCALE will emphasize ‘going to scale’ – increasing the number and size of ABCs, strengthening the role of the private sector contribution in cluster activities and enlarging the impact on food security by tripling the number of smallholder farmers involved. 2SCALE will leverage private sector investments (up to 50 percent of the total project budget) to generate innovations in local, national, regional and BoP markets.
A Focus on Nutrition and Food Security
The project will improve nutrition and food security through PPPs that increase productivity along agricultural value chains and sustainable connections to markets. 2SCALE will build on local knowledge as well as Dutch expertise in agriculture and agribusiness development. The introduction of best agricultural practices such as integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) and cropping systems that increase soil fertility will lead to increased resource use efficiency, including more efficient use of agricultural water and partial mitigation of the effects of climate change.
2SCALE will contribute to national and regional stability in post-conflict economies through the creation of jobs and income generation in the agribusiness sector. Enhanced agricultural productivity, the availability of more nutritious food and increased resource use efficiency will improve the lives and incomes of the smallholder farmers involved.
Through CASE, 2SCALE will help integrate participating farmers into local, national, regional and even global value chains. The CASE approach improves the capacities of smallholder farmers and nearby SMEs to compete in producing a certain commodity or product for a targeted market and to overcome the risks and other barriers related to further market integration. CASE also strengthens the individual and collective capacity of ABC participants. Collective learning and action are nurtured to improve coordination among stakeholders and to ensure informed and sustained integration in targeted value chains and markets.
With the ‘market’ as the key driver of agricultural intensification, the project will maximize scarce development resources through PPPs with national and multinational agro-enterprises involved in input supply, professional service provision and commodity marketing.
Among the first 2SCALE PPPs are:
- Friesland Campina is a major importer and processor of milk products in Africa. Its Nigerian subsidiary (FCW) is the largest importer and processor of milk products in Nigeria. The company has begun sourcing locally produced milk to process for sale in Nigerian markets and plans to procure 10 percent of its raw milk requirements at a price comparable to world market prices by 2015. In 2011, FCW and the Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development signed a memorandum of understanding on dairy development. IFDC is partnering with FCW to organize dairy farmers and strengthen their technical capacity.
- East-West Seed International (EWIT), a 30-year-old vegetable seed company is a market leader in Asia because it breeds and sells premium-quality hybrid and open-pollinated seeds for all major tropical vegetables. EWIT’s management believes that by breeding and introducing vegetable seed varieties adapted to the tropical market, the company can improve the lives of smallholder farmers while building its business. Based on its success in Asia, EWIT is interested in penetrating West African markets, providing farmers with seeds and specific technical assistance. IFDC is partnering with EWIT to improve farmers’ access to tropical vegetable seeds.
Collaborating with Dutch knowledge centers and other agribusiness projects while focusing on effectiveness and efficiency, 2SCALE will increase the impact and return on investment of both public and private sector financial commitments. The project also will include a specific focus on agro-food markets that are intended to improve food security for those at the BoP.
By the end of 2SCALE, the following results are anticipated:
- 1.15 million smallholder farming families in the nine target countries will have increased their productivity by 100 percent and their net incomes by 30 percent.
- 4,000 SMEs in the nine target countries will have increased their sales volume by 50 percent.
- At least 40 percent of the beneficiaries will be women.
- Dutch private sector companies and knowledge centers will have increased their roles in addressing food security in Africa.
- Agricultural productivity in the nine target countries will increase, generating a marketable surplus of 1.7 million metric tons of cereal equivalents (of which 550,000 metric tons will be channeled to BoP markets).
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