New financial assistance program brings NCBA CLUSA back to Mali

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(August 24, 2015)

After an eight-year absence, NCBA CLUSA will again be working in Mali, supporting the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), under the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) Leader with Associate award, as they implement a five year program to increase the use of USAID’s Development Credit Authority in Mali. 

Eighty percent of Mali’s population is involved in agricultural activities, and the agriculture sector has great potential to drive economic growth. Yet Mali’s farmers and entrepreneurs—especially women—struggle to get loans because banks and financial institutions are hesitant to lend.

The new program, funded jointly by USAID/Mali and Swedish Sida, will connect entrepreneurs in Mali to credit that is guaranteed by the Development Credit Authority, targeting agribusinesses all along the value chain and particularly women-owned businesses.

The Financial Technical Assistance Program (FinTAP) will work with both partners in the loan relationship, providing training and technical assistance to financial institutions and prospective borrowers. NCBA CLUSA will provide business development training to farmers and herder groups as an ancillary service to the loan access.

FinTAP’s lead implementer will be the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) with support from NCBA CLUSA and local Malian firm DC Consulting.

Senegal USAID Yaajeende

Despite relatively sufficient supplies of food, Senegal suffers from chronic food insecurity and like many neighboring sub-Saharan and Sahelian countries, is classified as “serious” on IFPRI’s Global Hunger Index. Senegal is a country with rich agricultural opportunity and yet imports nearly 70% of its food. Current production cannot keep pace with increasing demand from a growing population and rising food prices are limiting families’ ability to provide a diverse and healthy diet.


Project: USAID|Yaajeende

Agriculture and Nutrition Development Program for Food Security

Senegal image 01 2fa48Senegal image 01 2fa48To combat food insecurity in Senegal, CLUSA has embarked on a five-year, $40 million USAID-funded program to accelerate the participation of the very poor in rural economic growth and to catalyze sustainable development with Senegal‘s agriculture sector and improve the key dimensions of food security – access, availability, utilization and stability. As one of the original programs of the Feed the Future Initiative, USAID|Yaajeende is predicated on the United Nation’s Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security, and employs an innovative, country-led and integrated approach to tackle the underlying issues which hold back the very poor from becoming integral and active members of the rural, agricultural marketplace.


An Integrated Approach

USAID|YAAJEENDE attacks the endemic food security problem through an integrated approach that works with rural producers through nutrition-led agriculture, whereby improved agricultural and wild food products are promoted within the rural value chain that would diminish identified nutritional deficiencies when consumed, thereby also with:

Entrepreneurs who buy, resell, store, transport and transforms agricultural products.

Microfinance Institutions and Banks who provide loans and services for the producers and the entrepreneurs.

Suppliers that provide: fertilizers, improved seeds, and agricultural equipment.

Cooperatives and Civil Society Members that are involved in decision making and local policy-making on topics related to food security and nutrition.

Consumers improve their knowledge of better food practices, increasing the need for nutritional products.

CLUSA will improve the food security and nutrition of 1,000,000 individuals across 60 rural communities in four regions of Senegal. The team will establish a network of 1,000 Community Based Service Providers (CBSPs) to provide input supplies, agricultural services and nutritional products to rural people on a commission basis. Total sales of inputs and services provided through the CBSP network plus the total commodity sales of produced outputs will equal $30 million by Year 5. Household incomes will be improved by 250%. Stunting will be reduced by 25% in USAID|Yaajeende target zones and the number of underweight children will be reduced by 35%.

Enriched Flour Made Locally

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The women of Seno Pallel in Matam Region make enriched flours and infant porridges using local ingredients including sorghum, millet, salt, sugars. The women began making the products for their own consumption in early 2012 and then, when they noticed a strong demand for the product, began packaging and selling flour mixes on local markets. Recently, the women received a large order from Senegal’s National Program for Nutrition for more than 21,000 sachets of infant flour, earning the women more than 1600 dollars in just a few weeks. USAID|Yaajeende is helping the women acquire additional tools and financing to scale this activity and expand sales of the enriched flours by linking the group with project Community Based Solution Providers to expand the distribution chain to other zones.

Food Security for the Future

School Gardend Social Marketing CampaignSchool Gardend Social Marketing CampaignSchools are a critical platform for the promotion of nutritional activities, providing access to vulnerable populations while providing a venue to develop better nutritional habits in young people. School gardens provide students with hands-on opportunities to learn agricultural techniques, the importance of a balanced and varied diet, and the value of community based development, integrating key components of USAID|Yaajeende into one educational program.

In addition to 29 identified community garden sites, the program has identified 50 schools where it will train Parent Teacher Associations and teachers on how to create, manage and maintain school gardens. These gardens will include a wide variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables, including nutrient and calorie dense crops such as the orange sweet potato, Moringa, carrots and green beans, and enhance food security for future generations in Senegal.

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NCBA CLUSA Awarded Grant to Strengthen Cooperative Research

(WASHINGTON, DC)—NCBA CLUSA was recently awarded a two year $1.3 million Cooperative Agreement by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to advance the knowledge and research of global cooperative development.

The project, in close collaboration with the Oversea Cooperative Development Council (OCDC), will design and establish a new cooperative development research and resource facility, the Cooperative Development Research and Resource Center (CDRRC), to build upon and broaden the ongoing research activities of various Cooperative Development Organizations (CDOs) to meet the needs of the international cooperative development community. The CDRRC will also provide a platform for both the development of research products and guidelines for the OCDC members and other cooperative development programs, and furnishing limited services to the CDOs, their partners and other cooperative development stakeholders.

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“This award gives us the opportunity to strengthen cooperative development research and support the work in which CDO’s are currently engaged,” said NCBA CLUSA’s Amy Coughenour, Chief Operating Officer for International Development. “In many developing countries and around the world cooperatives represent a powerful economic force, increasing the importance of strong market research and providing resources that are shaped by those findings.”

Over a billion people worldwide are members of cooperatives and credit unions. Despite this, very little substantial research has been conducted on collective action as it relates to emerging and developing economies. This research project is designed to collect a more thorough understanding of what drives cooperative success or failure, establishing a means for measuring cooperative impact and performance, in an effort to conduct research that can translate to meaningful change.

This two year project will be managed by NCBA CLUSA and funded through the generous support of the American people. USAID administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.

Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Heads to Zambia for Second Assignment

Steve Laible ZambiaSteve Laible ZambiaNCBA CLUSA is pleased to host Steve Laible on his second Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer assignment in Zambia. Mr. Laible will be working with a Zambian organization called the Agricultural Commodities Marketing Program (ACOMAP) to help develop their business management skills. Mr. Laible’s first assignment in 2012 focused on introducing improved peanut butter production techniques to the farmers ACOMAP serves. Farmer-to-Farmer Program Manager Eric Wallace said, “We’re very excited to be hosting Steve on another Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer assignment. Steve’s analytical mind and generous heart make him a real asset to our program.”

Along with his wife Nancy, Mr. Laible is the founder and director of Education and Technology (EAT) centers in Bangladesh, India and Vietnam. The EAT center initiative is designed to help people use post- harvest processing technologies provided by NCBA CLUSA partner organization Compatible Technology International to improve their food security and nutrition, mainly through production of peanut butter.

Mr. Laible lives in New Brighton, Minnesota. Steve’s volunteer assignment is made possible through the generous support of USAID and ACDI/VOCA.






Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Recounts Assignment in Zambia

NCBA CLUSA had the opportunity to chat with Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Brittany Jablonsky, a member of NCBA CLUSA’s Board of Directors and Director of Advocacy Communications with National Farmers Union, following her assignment in Zambia. She recounts her experience with fellow volunteer Ellen Linderman, a senior member of the North Dakota Farmers Union. The two returned in July 2013 from a volunteer assignment working with the Chipata District Farmers Association and the Community Oriented Development Program to improve the marketing of their farmer members’ crops. The Chipata District Farmers Association (CDFA) recently registered as a cooperative in Zambia, with the help of a previous Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer and National Farmers Union Board member. 

What was your overall impression of the experience? Do you think the Farmer-to-Farmer program is a good idea?

Absolutely! I think it is just as a valuable for U.S. farmers as it is for farmers in the developing world because now you have two more people who can be advocates here in the U.S. and really have a much better understanding of some of the challenges that the developing world faces. I was always interested in these issues but I didn’t know much about them and certainly wasn’t able to talk about them from a firsthand perspective.

You said you grew up on a farm?

I did. I grew up on a farm in North Dakota. We had wheat and beef cattle. It was a very different scale and that is the thing that was so interesting; farmers everywhere face the same issues: risk management problems, credit problems, difficulty accessing markets, and determining which markets are most appropriate and will be the most lucrative. Those are challenges farmers everywhere face no matter where you are.

From that perspective, why did you personally decide to do this?

I was really interested in seeing how the exact opposite kind of agriculture from our U.S. production really worked on a very fundamental level and the relationship with the global system. We (National Farmers Union) work a lot on policy issues that are mostly domestic, but our food system is global. You hear things about how the policies in one country impacts another but you don’t get firsthand knowledge of that, it’s very anecdotal and hard to understand.

We learned a lot from the farmers about how the system works, the government’s role in agriculture, and how they interact with neighboring countries via exports. I got a much better understanding of how the system works together.

F2F Zambia Jablonsky Linderman 350x350F2F Zambia Jablonsky Linderman 350x350Ellen Linderman (left) and Brittany Jablonsky (right) on assigment in ZambiaWhat was your assignment on this trip?

We were given marketing assignments. We talked with local staff beforehand to learn what the best information was that we could convey while we were there. We mostly covered very basic marketing concepts, talking about what products bring you the most money in the market, what specific markets are most lucrative for certain products, and getting folks to start thinking about the idea of profit and record keeping as a necessary way of understanding or knowing what the best things are to continue or expand into new markets. We also talked about marketing concepts like identifying new customers, providing the customers with what they want and how to meet some of those needs.

Did you find it difficult to do the teaching?

Absolutely, I didn’t know how to exactly fill their needs; I didn’t want to be too simplistic but I also didn’t know what level the farmers were at and wanted to be easy to understand. I just wanted it to be useful for them in some way. That was a bit challenging but overall everyone was interested. We typically taught in classrooms to 15-30 people but sometimes we were outside, one class was outside under a fig tree in the middle of a village with pigs and chickens and goats roaming around us – it was pretty amazing! 

What kind of farms did you see? How was the product?

It was astonishing to me how many different things they were growing. They had very diversified operations. We would start every session with the farmers listing some of the things that they grow and it was many things. It’s good because you can access different markets if one is not doing well. Some of the things they were growing they don’t get a lot of money for, so why don’t you not grow that and grow something else. What we learned is that people grow what their neighbors grow without a lot of thought put into the question of ‘Can I really make money off of this?’

Throughout all the conversations that you had and trainings that you led, what did you see was the most common challenge that the farmers face?

Transportation is a huge challenge and just the lack of mechanization, the time it takes to do things really limits your ability to actually harvest the things that you grow and plant everything. Chipata may be a more lucrative market than some of the local villages but if you’re several kilometers away it is incredibly time consuming to get products to market.

Did you encounter a lot of gender issues and how were you perceived as a woman going there and teaching?

Some of the farmers who we met with who are leaders in CDFA in particular were women. That was  really encouraging. I was surprised in a way to see that some of the leaders were women. In a lot of our meetings the men and women sat separately and had their own little conversations going on but both were very much engaged. It seemed to me that the people who were really engaged in the meeting, regardless of gender, were more educated; they were asking questions that were technical in nature, a little more specific, they knew what to ask compared to the farmers that weren’t as educated who didn’t interact as much.

It was very important that Ellen in particular was able to be a part of the experience because she herself is a leader in her organization here in the U.S. and she and her husband farm together, she does all the farm labor just as much as he does. We passed around pictures of our farms here in the U.S. and one is of Ellen driving the combine and some of the farmers didn’t believe it was her. She told them that this is very much part of what she does on the farm and that was important just so people know women are out in the field doing this work.

On a more personal note, what do you feel impressed you the most?

The thing that I enjoyed the most was the meeting we had outside. I loved that we were right in the middle of the village, everyone’s houses were around us so people were welcoming you into their homes in a way and into their neighborhood. Everyone was so welcoming the entire trip. At the end of that meeting the farmers there sang us a song in appreciation. I just really loved that they sang us a song and asked us to come dance with them. You made these instant friends and that was awesome.

All in all, what was the largest takeaway that you had from this whole experience?

Two things, one is just that the bulk of the issues they face are what we faced in the U.S. 100 years ago, trying to scale up, addressing mechanization and market access issues. Co-ops are a huge part of that. National Farmers Union was founded in 1902 and started its first co-op in 1906 and that really paved the way for the farmer-owned movements and provided some great economic benefits for our members and to farmers all over the country. I see the same issues and the same need, it would be interesting to be able to see how things change in the next 50 years.

The other thing is just how important education is. A lot of the challenges that farmers in Zambia face could be solved or alleviated through greater education opportunities, both formal and informal. The government has a role in encouraging greater education, there’s a need for a much greater effort.

So now that you’ve had this experience, what are your thoughts on the Farmer-to-Farmer program?

I think it is great. It was an incredibly valuable experience. It obviously has its limitations; we had such a small amount of time with every group that was very challenging. It would be nice to do an ongoing project with the same group of farmers to be able to do a series of workshops that they needed and really be able to see some of the impacts of the trainings. All in all I thought it was an incredible opportunity and an incredible program.

Who would you recommend to go on a trip like this?

I would say anyone who is interested in global issues and the intersection of U.S. agriculture with farmers across the world. You have to have a flexible personality and be able to adapt to the situation because we didn’t know a lot about the farmers we would be meeting with when we got there. Farmers in the U.S. have an incredible amount of knowledge and can use their experiences finding markets and  dealing with storage issues, all of those things are the perfect analogy for issues that the farmers in Zambia were facing just on a different scale. 





Thu Mar 22 22:34:03 +0000 2018

The Co-op Model means @TrueValue storeowners have final say on potential sale - will they give up that control?…
Thu Mar 22 22:09:04 +0000 2018

On #WorldWaterDay - we look at why #community input and #governance is key to #water #sustainability and building…
Thu Mar 22 17:24:17 +0000 2018

RT @FeedtheFuture: Happy #WorldWaterDay! Water is crucial for agriculture & food security. #FeedtheFuture



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