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A 2015 report by Hystra, a global consulting firm that works with business and social sector pioneers to design and implement inclusive business approaches that are profitable and scalable, says it is important that development organizations identify the right farmers and “over-invest” in their farms through tailored and intensive support.
Shei is one of 146 farmers powered by the successful project known as Accelerating Impact of Food Security (AIFS) – which is part of iDE’s broader Korsung agricultural initiative, which translates as “good farming practices” in local language, Dagbani – which ran between April 2021 and March 2022.
Working as a cashew farmer in central Cambodia, In Laihout, 40, was uncomfortable with the fact that most of her crop was being exported to Vietnam where it was being processed and then on-sold by traders to bulk buyers at a significant profit.
Because there weren’t many processing centers in her low-income region, farmers like her were selling their cashews for small margins, only to see these foreign traders capitalize on their hard work and lack of local value chains.
But instead of accepting the situation, Laihout decided to start her own cashew collecting and processing business, initially working through a farmers’ association and community processing center in her village in Kampong Thom province, paying local farmers a fair price for their product and processing it herself.
This Sylhet market ecosystem map shows the location of more than 2,360 iDE-powered touchpoints – local business advisors, livestock service providers, agricultural collection points, sales agents, entrepreneurs and latrine producers – all engaging with market actors, communities, and individuals – spread across Sylhet.
Tryness Nsofwa, 57, proudly inspects her field of groundnuts. She uproots a clump of pods from the damp, red earth and is pleased with what she sees. Cracking open a husk to reveal edible fruit inside, Tryness notes the nuts are well formed and plentiful. “It’s looking very nice,” she says of her crop. “I will keep some for my family and I will sell some.”
Farm Business Advisor (FBA) Flora Mostiço is a change agent in her Mozambican community. At her market store in Nhamatanda, in the Beira Corridor, the mother of six sells affordable agricultural inputs including high quality seeds, fertilizer, and water pumps. Despite repeated cyclones in the region, she runs a successful small scale farm and provides business support to other farmers. “I started with something small and now I am growing,” Flora says of her business. iDE has trained some 332 (117 women) FBAs like Flora across Mozambique’s Maputo, Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia provinces.
While both men and women in the lowlands of Ethiopia have increased their engagement in local markets, they often lack access, agency, and commercial scale.
Pastoralist communities can no longer rely on traditional livestock and agriculture for high-quality, nutritious food production and consistent income generation.
Farhana Yeasmin, 24, remembers what it was like when her husband was the family’s sole earner. Because he was a day laborer and made little money, they struggled to even pay for basics. And if he couldn’t find work, the family sometimes skipped meals.
Kamala Magar’s day began before dawn. The Nepalese farmer would get up and walk miles in the cold to fetch water for her family. It would take her most of the morning to retrieve just one jar, which she’d use to make breakfast before setting out for more.
By improving access to technical assistance, market information, quality inputs, and new technologies, iDE increases value-chain efficiency and competitiveness to benefit small-scale farmers.
Using profit to build a sustainable business that meets people’s needs, social enterprises flourish while doing good.
How iDE is helping smallholder farmers increase their resilience following both Cyclone Idai and the COVID-19 pandemic.
iDE teams up with Bext360 to create a pilot program connecting Honduran coffee farmers to every aspect of the value chain through blockchain.
Utilizing the ENBAITA networks is a proven and cost effective way to help Nepal agriculture to recover from COVID-19 and to re-invigorate trading and exchange between Nepal and India to support food security in Nepal.
Because FBAs are entrepreneurs who connect urban suppliers and buyers to rural smallholder farmers, they can be a powerful force in a time of crisis.
In the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopian farmers are adopting new practices to enhance a way of life that’s been passed down for generations. With the support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, iDE is working with farmers in Jimma, Ethiopia to practice sustainable coffee production.
iDE works with university partners to explore technologies that promise to increase market options for fruit and vegetable farmers.
Involve the entire family in order to achieve gender equality
To build Nepalese farmers’ resilience, iDE engages in what we’ve termed the “Commercial Pocket Approach.”
Watersheds are crucial to the sustainability of businesses, communities, and ecosystems. In Honduras, we’re working with people all along the watershed to protect water at its source, ensuring it continues flowing for generations to come.
Mariana now has a business connecting farms directly to restaurants, ensuring that everyone benefits from increased service that ensures profit and better food.
Tropical greenhouse technology incorporates drip irrigation and ultraviolet plastic filtration cover that both protects the plants from heavy rainfall but also accelerates photosynthesis, resulting in healthier, larger produce.
There wasn't a disaster in Ethiopia in 2016, although they had one of their worst famine years ever. What changed from the 1980s and what can we learn from that for the future?
Lors Thmey operates as a business unit within iDE Cambodia with a mission to improve the economic resilience of poor rural households.
Understanding that small-scale farming families have severe resource limitations, iDE works to help minimize the pressure on labor, income, water, and energy by identifying and re-designing technologies existing at the intersection of these four resources, which can have a life-changing impact on struggling farmers.
Llionel Simbarashe Zisengwe is in pursuit of the entrepreneurial spirit. He’s the project manager for a Farm Business Advisor program in Mozambique. He recruits Farm Business Advisors that are motivated, knowledgeable, personable, mobile, and successful farmers themselves.
Better outputs require better inputs, which is why iDE's Farm Business Advisors sell high-quality seeds to their clients.
“The solar pump is very interesting to me. So far, all of the pumps I have seen and known have been powered by man, animal, wind, diesel, or electricity, and they rely on many fast-moving parts. This pump is different because it has no moving parts, and the source of energy is the sun.”
Juddy has been working with John Muta, a Farm Business Advisor (FBA), for the past few years, and through talking with her we came to understand how the FBA program is affecting women’s empowerment in the household. Using the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), which measures empowerment across domains ranging from decision-making power to control over income, we asked Juddy about her roles.
Two farmers participate in a quantitative assessment by our iQ team, which will be paired with results from a qualitative deep dive administered by our Human-Centered Design team. We interviewed them to understand the successes and barriers to growing and selling a very specific kind of sweet potato: an orange-fleshed sweet potato, high in Vitamin A.
Nicaragua is known for its lakes and rivers—water scarcity has not been a problem until now. The rains are coming less frequently, and weather patterns are less predictable. Farmers like Candelario are having to pivot their practices—making such changes as switching from traditional flood irrigation to water-saving drip irrigation.
Gita Pariyar lives in Lahachok village, within the Kaski district of central Nepal. She is raising 2 daughters and a son while her husband works as a laborer in the Middle East. A member of the disadvantaged Dalit community, she helps supplement her family’s income through agriculture. But she’s noticed a change in the rainfall in Nepal.
Doña Julia lives in a region of Honduras called Marcala, known for its high-quality coffee production. Undernourishment is a widespread problem among coffee farmers in this region. Normally, farmers only earn an income during the four months of coffee harvesting—leaving farmers eight months each year, known as the “thin months,” to survive on their coffee earnings.
iDE provides farmers access to improved seeds and training in proven agricultural practices to increase crop yields that enable small-scale households to have food year-round.
A mother of five, Ho Thi Hiu used to supplement her household’s meager income by growing rice. She would also make a small profit by buying piglets in a nearby town, raising them, and selling them fully-grown. But raising pigs is no easy task.
The use of demonstration plots helps convince skeptical farmers that agricultural technology, like drip irrigation, can make a difference in crop yields and boost their incomes.
Farm business advisors are change agents who dispense information about best practices in technology, fertilizers, pest management, and post-harvest storage through training sessions and demonstrations, as well as sell direct services, such as crop spraying.
Refugees are making new lives with the assistance of agricultural extension agents who provide training, advice, products, and services so that they can build businesses around vegetable production.
Compared to mainstream fertilizers and air-borne applications, Fertilizer Deep Placement produces 40% less chemical runoff and 30% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. It also increases yields, leading to a win-win for the farmer and for the environment.
Irrigation systems aren't off-the-shelf kinds of purchases. They require proper design, good installation, and operator training. iDE's social enterprise iDEal Tecnologias provides these services to farmers in Nicaragua.
To overcome disasters such as crop disease, iDE works with farmers to diversify their crops and connect to markets, helping them have enough food and money to survive year-round.
In addition to dramatically decreasing the workload of women and girls, Multiple-Use Water Systems provide benefits in health and sanitation, enabling communities to improve their decisions on the allocation of water resources.
What if one million farmers could grow more food with less water?
Axial flow pumps, power-tiller operated seeders, and mechanical reapers have the potential to transform farming practices by increasing precision and conserving resources. iDE works with local entrepreneurs who can ensure farmers have access to these machines.
In Zambia, the major food crop and staple grown by small-scale farmers is maize. But maize doesn’t return enough profit for farmers to earn an adequate income. Zambia was a market in need of intervention.
Honduras is the leading producer and exporter of coffee in Central America. Doña Julia Rivera is a coffee farmer in Marcala—a region of Honduras known for its high-quality, organic, and sustainably produced coffee beans. Working with iDE, Doña Julia has been able to expand her farm business with the help of drip irrigation and farmer training. Her farm is now an example in her community.
A farmer acting alone will often have to settle for less money in the small window of opportunity she has for selling. But what if this farmer can join with her neighbors, pooling their crops together to share storage and transportation costs, and provide a more attractive package for large buyers?
If you want to solve the world’s problems, you have to be where the action is—and every location is different.
Getting to most of the world’s population isn’t easy. The road that takes you there isn’t paved, but a dirt path, overgrown with vegetation, barely big enough to get your bicycle or motor bike down. In some seasons, the path becomes mud, sucking at your tires and shoes, making each yard a chore. But if we are going to solve poverty, this is the most important distance to travel: the Last Mile.
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