- Introducing new technologies;
- Increasing crop yields;
- Teaching sound farm management practices to farmers, imparting technical knowhow and developing financial literacy; and through
- Engaging consistently with farmers to set goals and aim for higher performance year after year.
From the start EFF’s farmer engagement models have all incorporated financial inclusion interventions. Since 2010 the Foundation has facilitated input finance to over 25,000 farmers in five countries (Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique). EFF has developed eight different models across nine value chains – maize, rice, soya, sesame, pulses, beans, ground nuts, coffee and sugar cane. In developing and implementing a contract farming model for small-scale and commercial farming – the Foundation has achieved as high as 97% loan repayment from smallholders and 100% from medium-scale farmers on EFF projects. Financial inclusion has seen the Foundation establish and facilitate linkages for farmers to international and domestic commercial banks, micro finance institutions and international donor agencies.
The success of financial inclusion initiatives has increased farmers’ adoption rate of new, climate resilient cash crops. It has increased the demand for sesame seed in local markets. And the success of agro-financing modelling has seen the majority of the growers now able to pay for seed on their own.
EFF has guaranteed markets for farmers, freeing them to stay focused on crop production. With procurement arrangements set up at farm-gate and/or at district level. This has included the establishment of seasonal depots where needed. Linkages have been made within existing procurement infrastructures connecting farmers to local buyers and/or to government warehouse receipt systems EFF plans the exit strategy making sure that the farmers continue to have access to markets.
EFF has provided planning and logistical support to create local business opportunities for SMEs. Through the strengthening of farmer groups EFF has been able to improve the timely aggregation of crops and quality control to achieve fair market prices for farmers.
Securing access to inputs has brought benefits to farmers on a number of levels. In the first instance, EFF has ensured that farmers have access to improved seed technologies having an overall positive impact on crop yields. EFF has also set up input loans and repayment frameworks. This has brought formal financial partners into agricultural communities allowing farmers to build up a credit history to take into future relationships with financiers. Input economics has also been taught through the use of demonstration plots: measuring the yield vs input investment; usage of improved variety of seeds vs local variety, commercial fertilizer vs compost and manure vs zero fertiliser. Farmers participate throughout the season in managing the demonstration plot under field extension team’s supervision.
EFF has successfully introduced a number of crops in regions where they have not traditionally been grown. Principal among these include sesame, pigeon peas and green gram in Tanzania and sesame in Zimbabwe. Crop selection is based on thorough research of climatic conditions, soil topography and local, regional and global market demands for the crop. Crops are also chosen depending on their calculated impact on improving food security and household incomes. Only then can the case be made to farmers to grow something new. The introduction of new crops has facilitated the rise not only of farmer uptake and income, but also the growth of domestic value chain actors.
Strengthening of Local Systems through Education and Training
EFF has shared technical knowledge and extended training to multiple players across sectors:
- Technical training has been given to government extension staff to strengthen their knowledge in new crops and technologies along with the necessary training resources;
- In rural schools:
- EFF has set up demonstration plots, giving experiential learning opportunities to pupils and teachers alike
- EFF has supported the development of improved seed production of sesame and pulses and production of coffee seedlings across 10 schools in Tanzania. The seeds are inspected for certification by the Ministry of Agriculture in Tanzania for the production of Quality Declared Seeds (QDS) and the schools sell the seeds to local communities at capped prices to sustain the production.
- In Zanzibar, EFF designed six-week science projects teaching pupils how to cook with clean energy; and compare the experience with the conventional method of cooking using charcoal and firewood. Successful pupils were recognised and awarded at a formal ceremony and as a result, the interest in the science project grew in the second term, with a 20% increase in pupil participation and the participation of a second school.
Women have been supported with input and mechanisation financing allowing them to improve crop yields and generate higher levels of income. Of particular impact for women has been the financial management training they have received. Women have consistently shown, that with one-time support to get them started they are then able to pay their own way over subsequent seasons. Coupled with the receiving of income directly “to their pockets”, through the use of mobile payment systems in projects, in which we have linked over 6,000 women to mobile payments, they have been enabled to take greater control of their finances. The formation of women’s savings groups has allowed women to pay for the expansion of farming, invest in small-scale poultry business, pay school fees and for healthcare needs.
EFF has implemented the teaching of conservation agriculture (CA) in Zimbabwe and Tanzania since 2011. All programmes include an element of education in Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) and also promotes also promotes climate smart agricultural solutions, such as, the use of crop rotation and the planting of legumes and sesame to improve soil fertility through nitrogen fixation. In Zambia agro-forestry has been promoted through the planting, rehabilitation and rejuvenation of cashew plantations, creating awareness for young farmers to consider small scale orchards with economically viable tree crops and diversified food crops.
Youth engagement has been one of EFFs areas of interest from the start: our findings and insights over the years are leading us to establish specific strategic interventions such as our internship program and involvement with Young Farmers Clubs. From informal discussions with youth in training forums at the community level, to formal focus groups, to the completion of baseline surveys and monitoring and evaluation of our programmes, to building key partnerships at domestic and international levels highlighting the role of youth in agriculture. EFF’s diverse role in youth development can be seen through our multiple initiatives and involvement in various forums through working groups at the UN for “Youth in Agriculture”, “Rural to Urban Migration” and “Agricultural Finance for Young Farmers”
In partnership with ICRISAT and Selian Research institute in Tanzania, EFF conducted cooking demonstrations in three pulses-growing geographic regions. There was direct engagement with over 3,000 smallholder farmers. Farmers were educated on the nutritional value of pulses and how to combat malnutrition in children. Participants were given hands-on learning on making dishes with pulses.
In Zimbabwe, the Foundation has produced a sesame training guide book which includes guidance on how sesame is being used elsewhere in the world in cooking. Farmers have produced sesame butter and sesame paste for nutritional home consumption.
International, Regional and Country-Specific Agricultural Industry Participation
EFF work has been recognized locally, regionally and internationally leading to greater participation in international
forums and events to advance our causes to a greater audience. EFF has worked to provide:
- Representation as private sector led development approach, methodology, findings, experiences (ETG corporate Philanthropy channelled through Foundation)
- Knowledge sharing and learning: interactions with development networks across Africa, Europe, USA and India, South East Asia
- Challenging the conventional approach to development in agriculture and why the mindset shift from each stakeholder involved in the sector is necessary for effective multi-stakeholder partnerships