Stories tagged: chemonics

10 Ways Precision Agriculture is Transforming Farming

As demand for food grows, we need to ensure the way we produce it remains as environmentally sound as possible. Farmers can now be guided by technology, to use earth’s resources like land and water in the most efficient way. It can also help them apply vital inputs like crop protection and fertilizer in the right amounts. This is called precision agriculture, and here 10 ways Farming First supporters are putting it to good use. Continue reading

#FillTheGap! Equal rights are brewing in Colombia

This is the fifth post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture.

For 15,000 families in the remote and rural towns surrounding Tumaco, western Colombia, the cocoa growers’ association (COMCACAOT) has been something of a lifeline.

Established only five years ago, most of the union’s members come from Afro-Colombian communities that suffered from Colombia’s internal conflict and opted to grow cocoa as a means to overcome poverty. Around 40 per cent of COMCACAOT members are women.

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International Women’s Day: Eight Women Who Have Filled the Gender Gap in Agriculture

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, IFDC‘s Deputy Director for North and West Africa Oumou Camara blogs for Next Billion, sharing the stories of eight extraordinary women that have succeeded in bridging the gender gap in agriculture. Read the original post here.

Women account for more than 40 percent of the agricultural workforce worldwide but they own less than 20 percent of the world’s land, earning just a fraction of what their male counterparts do.

As the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women explores how to empower rural women, Farming First is sharing stories of women all over the world that are bridging this gap in agriculture.

Jahanara Begum: Proof is in the profit in Bangladesh

In a country where less than 60 percent of women are economically active, female farmers like Jahanara Begum, 45, face negative comments and scepticism from their communities and even their families. But for Begum, the results spoke for themselves after she became a Farm Business Advisor and started selling vegetable seeds and other inputs like fertilizers, vermicompost and pest management tools to farmers with the support of PROOFS (Profitable Opportunities for Food Security), a Dutch-funded project led by iDE and partners. Jahanara used previous contacts in her network to her advantage – not only to reach 250 producer groups as part of the project, but to go beyond that to reach more groups in the remote riverine islands. She later took out a loan from a financial institution, overcoming social norms and gender bias to expand her business and strengthen her linkages with private companies. Her business track record ensured that the financial institution did not deem her too risky to give out the loan.

Jahanara Begum, Farm Business Advisor (Photo: iDE PROOFS)

Esperanza Dionisio Castillo: Climbing the ladder in Peru

As Esperanza Dionisio Castillo rose up the ranks to become general manager of the Pangoa Cooperative, a cocoa growing union in San Martín de Pangoa, Peru, she found few other female role models to follow. She experienced greater scrutiny and mistrust in leading the cooperative as a woman. But after proving herself by bringing higher and more consistent incomes to rural families, Castillo wanted to ensure that other women found an easier path. So she offered rural female members support through health services, leadership training through the co-op’s Committee for the Development of Women and access to credit via social investment fund Root Capital.

Esperanza Dionisio Castillo, General Manager of C.A.C. Pangoa

Fatima Nadinga: Credit where it’s due in Burkina Faso

Accessing credit is often a challenge for smallholder farmers, and it is even harder for women. That’s why a USAID-funded project implemented by non-profit CNFA is training women in the “warrantage” credit mechanism. The system allows farmers to use their grain as collateral to obtain credit from a bank or microfinance institution rather than selling their harvest all at once. Under this system, farmers like Fatima Nadinga can deposit their crops and access credit to invest in their farms and generate more income, while also strategically selling their crops at the highest price.

Josefina dos Santos Lourenço: Give a little to get a lot in Mozambique

Josefina, a young Mozambican, had aspirations of owning her own business. But she wasn’t earning enough selling food at her small market stand to support her family. Her situation is not uncommon; women account for almost 90 percent of the work force in Mozambican agriculture, but represent just a quarter of the land owners holding official user rights. But Lourenço’s prospects improved when she was recruited by Export Marketing Company Limited, a major agricultural trading company, with support from Fintrac’s Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation program. Lourenço received three training sessions in the first six months and a 50 percent discount on her initial inventory of inputs, like fertilizer and crop protection products for her input shop. She now serves almost 1,000 farmers and has become financially independent.

Lidia Grueso: Paying it forward in Colombia

In Colombia, where women make up 40 percent of the cocoa growers’ association COMCACAOT, Lidia Grueso, 41, has already overcome gender bias and prejudices to become a union manager. But the five-year-old association has still faced the challenge of accessing credit and loans for its members. USAID’s Rural Finance Initiative has helped individual farmers access loans, vouching for almost 375 of its members. This allows women to afford inputs like fertilizer to improve their business and to better pay the staff harvesting the cocoa.

Yinka Adesola: Field school founder inspires youth in Nigeria

After attending trainings sponsored by IFDC’s 2SCALE project, Yinka Adesola learned how to increase farm productivity with good agricultural practices and integrated soil fertility management. She was also taught business management strategies such as marketing and selling crops. She knew she needed to inspire others with what she had learnt. “I wanted to hold other trainings to attract more youth to agriculture, to show that agriculture is a lucrative business,” she says. Now, every three months, trainees from all around Nigeria come to her field school, the Entrepreneur Youth Multipurpose Cooperative, to learn vegetable production and farm management.

Ethel Khundi: Doubling down on diversity in Malawi

The impact of the gender gap in agriculture worldwide results in a yield gap of up to 30 percent because women are unable to access the same resources as men. But a Self Help Africa program in Malawi has trained female livestock keepers in conservation farming techniques that use zero tillage to safeguard moisture in the soil, allowing them to diversify their farms. As well as raising her pigs, Ethel Khundi, 36, has also been able to produce three times more maize, which was a valuable insurance when she lost her entire drove of pigs to swine flu. Instead, her maize harvest offset the losses and kept her on track to expand her home and set up a village shop.

Ruramiso Mashumba: Female agripreneurs on the rise in Zimbabwe

Agribusiness in Zimbabwe is dominated by men, of whom almost 70 percent are employers. Meanwhile, women are much more likely to work unpaid in agriculture than to be a paid full-time worker. Yet women like Ruramiso Mashumba are blazing a trail for more female agripreneurs. After returning to farming in Zimbabwe following her studies in Agriculture Business Management at the University of West England, Mashumba was elected as the national chair of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union Young Farmers’ Club in 2014. She also founded Mnandi Africa, an organisation that helps rural woman to combat poverty and malnutrition by empowering and equipping them with skills and knowledge in agriculture. 

Learn more about the rural women filling in the gender gap in agriculture at, or follow #FillTheGap on social media.

Melissa Benn: The Future of Fish for Incomes & Nutrition

In this guest post, Melissa Benn of Chemonics outlines the work that is underway to improve aquaculture, which is on the rise worldwide. This article originally appeared in the September edition of WFO’s [email protected] entitled “What’s the Future of Fisher Folks?”

Aquaculture is on the rise globally, and has grown at an impressive rate over the past decades, promising to play a major role in satisfying the protein requirements of both the growing global middle income group and the poorest. Currently, fish represent around 16 percent of all animal based protein consumed, and this percentage is likely to only increase.

As one of the world’s largest emerging markets, Indonesia is a great example of the challenges and potential of creating modern and competitive fisheries. Researchers with the WorldFish group evaluated growth trajectories for aquaculture in Indonesia, indicating that aquaculture will overtake capture fisheries as the major source of fish in Indonesia before 2030. Investment in aquaculture is one of the essential pathways to increasing domestic fish consumption and nutrition, keeping fish affordable, and supporting income generation. Forewarning of this industrial boom can help communities and donor organizations begin working now to mitigate the negative externalities this change will have on the environment, and local communities.

What does this change represent for a bay in Indonesia and the communities around it? Are they prepared for this shift?

Creating the foundation for economic growth and improved nutrition

Bumbang Bay, Indonesia, covers 79,000 hectares, of which nearly a third has been proposed as a Regional Marine Conservation Area. This area is home to the largest lobster seedling area in the province, is a breeding ground for shrimp and fish, and is rife with seaweed farming beds, coral reefs, and various other natural resources. However, years of destructive fishing techniques, excessive garbage dumping, and conflicts between fishers, fish and seaweed farmers, and tourism operators, had further degraded the bay.

Bumbang Bay, Indonesia

Bumbang Bay, Indonesia

The Improving Sustainable Fisheries and Climate Resilience (IMACS) project, funded by USAID and implemented by Chemonics from 2010-2015, was focused on building the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), the lead institution in the Indonesian government for promoting fisheries, managing coastal areas, and promoting the welfare of coastal communities. Within Bumbang Bay, IMACS partnered with and delivered a grant to a local NGO and university to improve the community’s management of their resources, by working with the community and local government to formulate an awig-awig, or customary law, which sets the framework for best management practices based on community member consensus building. This customary law has helped the community manage its own marine resources, providing them with the agency to protect and design the future of their bay. Other successful management techniques included creating and aligning specific IMACS interventions with MMAF priorities, and involving the private sector early in their design. This model increased ownership of the interventions from the private sector, and were more sustainable because of strong MMAF support. For example, IMACS accessed corporate social responsibility funding to help combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, through successful community surveillance programs.

At the end of five years, IMACS had helped 5,200,000 hectares of marine environment under improved fisheries management, supported the creation of 25 new laws, regulations, policies, and related instruments to enhance fisheries and marine resource management, and accomplished much more to support the MMAF and local governments across the country.

What’s next for Bumbang Bay?

While IMACS helped to form the enabling environment for successful fisheries and aquaculture, the impetus is on the people of Bumbang Bay, with support from development partners, to leverage this platform to increase incomes and enhance nutrition outcomes.

Aquaculture and nutrition remain closely tied in Indonesia, as two thirds of the national protein supply is fish. A recent study from Airlangga University and Kansas State University on household dietary diversity and child stunting study in East Java, Indonesia, found the prevalence of stunting in children aged five and younger to be 39.4%. The study concluded that the consumption of dairy and meat was the lowest among the 12 food groups rated, and that to prevent stunting, animal product consumption needs to be a major focus, especially for pregnant and nursing women, and children. This is one large area where entrepreneurs, donors, private partners, and community organizers can work together to find creative solutions that simultaneously drive economic growth and enhance dietary diversity and nutrition outcomes.

Fisher folks around the globe are becoming aware that simply adopting new technologies is not adequate if there is no focus on value chains, in the rapidly urbanizing developing world. As USAID begins to integrate nutrition, diet diversity, income generation, and much more into the traditional agriculture and food security proposal, we must embrace our creativity; hatcheries, apps, new age fish farming, new technologies, and private public partnerships are all innovative ways to link fishing communities and businesses with lucrative urban and export markets to improve local livelihoods and nutrition outcomes.

In the far future, perhaps we will see more high skilled jobs in the fish processing industry, to help farmers move away from subsistence farming. Who knows; maybe the first awig-awig of 2040 in Bumbang Bay will be a shrimp export partnership with Tokyo. With continued involvement from the development community, Indonesia will surely have a revolutionary few decades ahead.

Linking Food Security to National Security

For years fisheries and aquaculture have often been ignored when discussing food security and agricultural development. Dr. Gregory Treverton, the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, acknowledged this perception gap within the greater community a panel discussion titled “The Power of Global Food Security: Examining Economic and National Security Implications” in mid-September. He described fisheries as often being left out of the discussion, even though four billion people in the world depend on fish, and one billion depend very much on fish. At this point, half of the world’s fish production comes from aquaculture, instead of direct fishing, and this percentage is expected to only increase in the future. Often, a lack of food security becomes the ignition for violent conflict. Fish, fisheries, and aquaculture are therefore a key element of both food and global security, and deserve an increased focus from all involved in the space.

14 Ways Agriculture is Reducing Poverty

“Only by putting the poorest in charge of their own lives and destinies, will absolute poverty and deprivation be removed from the face of the earth.”

These words came from Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, 2015 winner of the prestigious World Food Prize, which was announced this summer. To celebrate the prize giving in Des Moines this October at the Borlaug Dialogue, we are delving into the ways our supporters around the world are using agriculture as a means to empower the poorest in the latest instalment in our “content mash-up” series.

Read on to find out how farmers are being helped to graduate to more sustainable livelihoods… Continue reading