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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia has designed three flagship programs to promote local production and consumption of four critical agricultural items; wheat, rice, oil seeds and animal feed.
The flagship documents were designed in accordance with the government policies to reduce importation of food commodities that can be produced locally.
During the handover ceremony of the flagship programs titled: National Wheat Flagship program (NWFP), the National Rice Flagship Program (NRFP), and the Oil Seeds and Animal Feed Production Flagship Program (OSAP), PAMACC Editor - Isaiah Esipisu sought to know the way forward for other countries from the Hailemariam Desalegn Bosh, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and Chair of AGRA Board.
Q. Is there a possibility of up-scaling such flagship programs to other African countries, particularly where AGRA operates?
A. This is already happening. We have flagship programs for rice value chain in West African countries. We also have the same in Ethiopia and a few other African countries. There is huge potential for up-scaling such programs in many other African countries.
There is one flagship program in Burkina Faso focusing on rice development, another in Mali, and we have agricultural development program in Ghana. Lastly, we have seed flagship program in Rwanda.
Q. What lessons can Africa draw from these flagship programs?
A. The lessons we have learned in these types of engagements is that the business as usual approach in agriculture production has not yielded results. So we need to have concerted efforts, thinking about systemic change and collaboration from all stakeholders. It should never be left to be the business of the Ministry of Agriculture, but a business of all those who are involved in the value chain, all the way from production to markets. This includes the consumers and the nutrition aspect of the agricultural products.
It needs collaboration from the governments, the private sector, development partners, as well as the youth and women.
These are some of the lessons we have learned from the flagship programs, and the best out of it is that the program can help in mobilizing resources both financially and human.
Q. Is there any specific lesson we have learned from Ethiopia in particular?
A. Ethiopia started the flagship program some years ago with main focus on the wheat sector. Rice and the edible oil are now the two new flagships. The wheat flagship has always been referred to as Agriculture Commercialization Cluster. This starts from improving the seeds, improving the agronomic practices and clustering farmers to engage together for united production, and it involves the young people and women in wheat production.
However, the flagship was not been properly packaged and put in place where the private sector, young entrepreneurs as well as development partners can fund beyond what the government is trying to do. The new flagship package will help Ethiopia bring all those stakeholders together, increase productivity and production, but also increase the resources. We will move beyond highland wheat farming where we highly depend on rainfall, to lowland wheat production based on irrigation. That means that even when there are no rains, the production will continue.
This venture needs a huge amount of resources in order to succeed. Yet, the government alone cannot do that. So this document will help us mobilize resources from outside the government coffers from all partners including the private sector.
Q. What will be the process of implementation of these flagship programs in Ethiopia?
A. Actually the government is the initiator and the owner of the programs. The smallholder farmers are private engagements. They invest their labor, their resources, they buy fertilizers etc. Such processes have to be facilitated by availing finance through credits and market for the produce.
That calls for the involvement of private banks and public finance institution. So we will need a blended kind of mechanism. We need to have a finance system that is functional, improved seed availability and fertilizers.
Q. How impactful is this likely going to be on agricultural transformation that is the main focus for AGRA?
A. Of cause transformation will come in due course. It is a process. So as we improve, we have to accelerate the improvement to bring about transformation. Indeed, this is the beginning of transformation, and the end goal is to have surplus for the market and commercialization.
So, agriculture is a business. We should come out of thinking that agriculture is only for subsistence. We need to move to commercial. So we have to increase value addition and bring about the desired transformation. When agriculture becomes a business, then transformation automatically takes place.
Q. How are we going to ensure that youth and women are involved in this agriculture transformation journey?
A. Actually traditional agriculture production mechanisms will rarely attract young people. In that case, the agri-business needs to be modernized and digitized. Young people are very friendly and very knowledgeable and literate about information technology and utilization of production systems. So if we do that, then we can attract more young people into agriculture. The truth is that the young people are ready to go into this kind of sexy production systems.
YAOUNDE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - The training of forest stakeholders in Francophone Africa on accessing climate financing took place in Douala-Cameroon March 14-18. Organized by African Forest Forum (AFF) with support from Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network – GFFFN the atraining was to empower actors with not only the skills of drafting bankable projects to attract climate funding but also get abreast with available opportunities and the intricacies involved. On the second day of the training , PAMACC Senior Reporter, Elias Ntungwe Ngalame caught up with AFF Senior Programme Officer, Dr Marie-Louise Avana Tientcheu for a chat. She says the one good thing about climate finance is that it compels stakeholders to work together.
Q- This is day two of the training workshop, what is your assessment of the deliberations so far?
I think deliberations have been going on very well. I have congratulated both the experts and participants, who have shown commitment and interest to learn, staying on till 9 pm that we completed the day one programme. The same enthusiasm has been seen in the second day of the workshop the deals with the funding opportunities, the adaptation fund etc. Participant now have knowledge of the available funding institutions like the World Bank,UN-REDD, LCDF( Fund for less developed countries, Multilateral Development Banks like AfDB, West African Bank, Green Climate Fund, GEF, Forest Carbon Partnership, European Union, USAID, GIZ and the types of projects they are interested in.
The third day will focus more on the practical aspect with group work so that participants are edified on not only on what goes into the content of a project but also how they can structure it to stand the chance of attracting funding.
Q - Climate Finance seem to be a challenging aspect to comprehend, do you think one week is enough to understand all what is involved?
Even one month may not be enough. What we are trying to do is give some basic knowledge. The information gathered here will only help them improve on what they already know and permit them carry out more research , gather more knowledge. They have to team up with other experts to improve on the quality of their project, A lot of expertise is needed when it comes to drafting projects. As the resource persons of these workshop have explain, stakeholders have to work in synergy with experts of the different sector.
As African Forest Forum have always advised, stakeholders from different sectors( water, energy, urban development, forestry ,livestock etc have to work in synergy, harmonize their different sector actions to stand the chance to succeed in getting funding. The good think with climate finance is that it helps to promote sector networking as partners are compelled to work with one another. Secondly we want to make sure the different stakeholders here seek to work one another even after they leave from here.
Q - Apart from such training are there other ways AFF is assisting forest stakeholders to facilitate their task to access funding?
AFF approach is about capacity building, providing the right tool for stakeholders to better manage forest. The purpose of AFF is to provide a platform and create an enabling environment for independent and objective analysis, advocacy and advice on relevant policy and technical issues pertaining to achieving sustainable management, use and conservation of Africa’s forest and tree resources as part of efforts to reduce poverty, promote gender equality, economic and social development and protect the environment.
4 - There is much talk about available carbon markets, how can African forest stakeholders benefit from this?
There are opportunities for African countries to participate in global carbon markets through forest conservation, through ,the agriculture sector etc. I think if African countries update their mastering of such fund mobilization together with effective carbon monitoring within forest and agriculture sector they will benefit a lot. But first they have to be trained so that they understand what the carbon market is all about and what opportunities are the available for them to benefit from.
That is part of the reason why the African Forest Forum has organized this capacity building workshop.
Everlyne Mwende, a young lady in Kibwezi, Kenya, is passionate about agriculture. Shortly after she participated in an agribusiness incubation programme, Everlyne launched her livestock business with 50 birds in 2020.
The incubation programme was facilitated by the Youth-in Agribusiness compact of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) as part of its commitment to stimulating youth-led agribusiness enterprises along agricultural commodity value chains.
Sponsored by the African Development Bank as part of its Feed Africa Initiative, TAAT’s main objective is to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas.
The programme increases agricultural productivity through the deployment of proven and high-performance agricultural technologies at scale along selected nine commodity compacts such as cassava, Orange-fleshed sweet potato, aquaculture, small livestock, high iron beans, maize, rice, sorghum and millet, and wheat.
These work with six enabler compacts addressing transversal issues such as soil fertility management, water management, capacity development, policy support, attracting African youth in agribusiness and fall armyworm response.
Evelyne sold the 50 birds at Ksh 500 ($5) per piece translating to Ksh 25,000 ($250). After the sales, she restocked 100 birds for rebreeding. She later expanded her business to include the sale of eggs.
Beyond producing chicken, Everlyne has taken her passion to another level this year. She now mentors other poultry farmers within Kibwezi, building their capacity in good agricultural practices. She equally trains women and youth entrepreneurs for medium-scale poultry enterprises to deliver.
Members of the Bidii Self Help Group, a youth group in Kibwezi, have, since January 2021, engaged Evelyne to train them specifically on poultry and goat farming. She has equally mentored more than five other youth in poultry farming, and her business model has proven to be very efficient.
Evelyne is determined to continue sharing her production and business knowledge with other youth in her community and around Kenya. She will also be selling more chicks to farmers hence adding to her revenue streams.
According to Noel Mulinganya, the Leader of the Youth in Agribusiness compact, which is also known as ENABLE-TAAT (Empowering Novel Agribusiness-led Employment), “Evelyne’s resourcefulness affirms the efficacy of ENABLE-TAAT’s “Train-the-trainers” initiative. Through this initiative, benefitting youth are trained to become trainers in their local communities, thus creating a network of young people who have the skills and capacity to contribute to agricultural transformation in Africa.”
“More of such stories are budding, as the compact continues to track the record of previously trained youth,” Noel added.
It would be recalled that a similar “Train-the-Trainers” seminar, organised by the compact, held in March 2021 with youth participants from Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The youth were motivated to replicate the knowledge they received from ENABLE-TAAT in their communities as young instigators of African agricultural transformation.
Led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), ENABLE-TAAT provides capacity building and technical assistance to establish and expand youth-led agribusiness enterprises along TAAT value chains such as high iron beans, cassava, fish, maize, small livestock, rice and orange-fleshed sweet potato.
High-yieldng, downy mildew-resistant and suitable for food and fodder. Developed by ICRISAT and evaluated by INERA
Burkina Faso 1 June, 2021: Burkina Faso recently approved the commercial use of its first pearl millet hybrid called Nafagnon. With the approval, the single-cross hybrid also became the first of its kind to be approved in West and Central Africa (WCA). Nafagnon yields as much as 45 percent higher than popular variety Misari-1. It is more resistant to downy mildew and has higher fodder yield potential.
ICRISAT’s Pearl Millet Breeding program for West and Central Africa developed Nafagnon in Niger and the Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA) evaluated it in Burkina Faso. The hybrid’s name means beneficial millet in Bamanankan language. It also goes by ICRISAT Millet Hybrid (ICMH) 147007. Nafagnon matures early in 80-85 days and has a yield potential of about 3 tons per hectare; early maturity helps overcome terminal drought stress. It is a dual-purpose (grain and forage) hybrid resistant to downy mildew, the most harmful pearl millet disease in WCA. The seed size, yield potential, stay-green and earliness of the hybrid are traits highly preferred by farmers and end users in Burkina Faso, where low yield of pearl millet varieties relative to other cereals is forcing farmers away from one of the best suited crops for Sahel’s harsh agro-ecologies.
Nafagnon is a first generation cross of two genetically different inbreds. Such crosses are called single-cross hybrids. It was evaluated in major pearl millet producing countries of the region over the last three years. The National Seed Committee of Burkina Faso announced Nafagnon’s registration in the National Seed Catalog, making it the country’s first pearl millet hybrid to be approved and the first single-cross hybrid to be approved in West and Central Africa.
Tailored to the region
“The first hybrid millets that were tested in West and Central Africa were bred in India. Unfortunately, they were too early maturing and susceptible to downy mildew disease. Learning lessons from those assessments, ICMH 147007 was developed, evaluated and selected in the WCA region,” said Dr. Gangashetty, millet breeder for ICRISAT-WCA, Niger.
“It is well adapted to West African environmental conditions," added Dr. Inoussa Drabo, pearl millet breeder at INERA, who led the evaluation of multiple hybrids and selection, and provided the necessary documentation for the release of Nafiagnon in Burkina Faso.
"Since the 1990s, researchers at national research institutes and research organizations such as the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) have been working to obtain millet hybrids,” explained Dr. Issoufou Kapran, Seed System Specialist at ICRISAT-Mali.
“The strong research for development partnership between ICRISAT and INERA has been benefiting smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso. Nafiagnon, the first hybrid, is another important contribution to improve the livelihood of farmers” said Dr. Ramadjita Tabo, Regional and Research Program Director for ICRISAT-WCA.
All inclusive approach to new releases
INERA’s approach to millet hybrid development and commercialization in Burkina Faso involves partnerships with farmers and the private sector. Nafiagnon was tested by more than 500 farmers and three seed companies - NAFASO, FAGRI and EPAM - were involved. “The evaluation of pearl millet hybrids in Burkina Faso was taken up under the AVISA Project,” said Dr. Neya James, national coordinator of the project that is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mr. Ladji Sawadogo, a farmer in the village of Balla that is about 40 km from Bobo Dioulasso, planted Nafagnon along with the local variety on the same day on one hectare of land.
"I am impressed by how fast hybrid plants grow. Its leaves remain green at maturity and the grains are well formed and filled on the panicles. Not only will my family have enough to eat, but animals will also have enough to feed,” the farmer said.
Following its approval in Burkina Faso, Nafiagnon will soon be included in the next seed catalog of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The hybrid resulted from the activities of HOPE-2 project, funded by the Gates Foundation, HarvestPlus, GIZ, CGIAR Research Program Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals, INERA, seed companies such as NAFASO, FAGRI and EPAM in Burkina Faso.
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a not-for-profit international agricultural research organization. ICRISAT works across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia with a wide array of partners to ensure food, nutrition and income security. The semi-arid tropics or drylands cover 6.5 million square kilometers in 55 countries and are home to over two billion people.
The Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA) on the other hand, is one of the four specialized institutes of the National Center for Scientific and Technological Research (CNRST). INERA is in charge of environmental and agricultural researches, development studies and dissemination of technologies in Burkina Faso.