Expanding Nepal's Business Access to Improved Technologies for Agriculture (ENBAITA)
Post Project Sustainability, Impacts, and Food Security During the COVID-19 Crisis
USAID through the FTF-India partnerships program provided $1.67m to iDE to implement the ENBAITA project. The goal was to reduce poverty for smallholders in Nepal through expanded access to agricultural technologies from India and building partnerships with Indian agro companies to develop last mile supply chains. ENBAITA developed supply chains utilizing the iDE Commercial Pocket Approach (CPA) that facilitates establishing rural collection centers in public private partnership with last mile Community Business Facilitator (CBF) agents marketing agro technologies and providing technical support to customers.
The Indian agro companies co-invested in Nepal last mile supply chains working with ENBAITA and national distributors. ENBAITA with the agro companies trained 156 CBFs (41% women) primarily in 2015/2016 and strengthened / developed 17 collection centers. ENBAITA worked closely with USAID Nepal FTF Initiative and extended technology packages developed by the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovation Lab working with the government. During the three year project period ENBAITA increased the income of 51,515 small farmers by $225/yr (in aggregate $11.6m/yr) and had a benefit cost ratio of 13.6 to 1 in terms of small farmer income increased to USAID investment. ENBAITA developed supply chains strongly supporting the USAID Indo-Pacific strategy, during the project period ENBAITA facilitated interregional trade of $1.4m.
Post Project Sustainability, Impacts, Food Security during the COVID-19 Crisis
The key to ENBAITA post project impacts and sustainability is the development of last mile actors and institutions that connect through supply chains to the Indian agro manufacturers. All of the 17 collection centers developed/strengthened by ENBAITA continue to provide services to small farmers. Over 90 of the 156 CBFs trained by ENBAITA continue to serve small farmers including 9 that have established agro dealerships and 6 that were trained by the Government and the CABI Plantwise program as Plant Doctors (see CBF and Deepa Paudhel boxes). In addition, 9 new CBFs have been trained by the private sector. All of the Indian agro company partners including Rentokil PCI (IPM), T. Stanes (IPM), Harvel Azud (micro irrigation), Namdari (improved seed) and Future Pump (Sunflower Solar Pump) continue to expand sales and services in Nepal with ENBAITA facilitated national distributors (5), regional wholesalers (4), and district agro-vets (8) that support the CBFs thru sales commissions.
- Harvel Azud initiated sales in Nepal with ENBAITA. From 2015-2018 Harvel Azud sold 21,578 drip systems. In 2018/2019, over 9,000 drips were sold. During the project Harvel Azud established two assembling partners in Nepal; post project, two more assemblers were added in ENBAITA districts.
- Future Pump initiated sales in Nepal with ENBAITA, marketing 286 Sunflower Solar Pumps during the project period. Since then, over 500 pumps have been sold.
The supply chains established by ENBAITA continue to operate and expand. In 2019 DFID supported an independent study of the iDE Commercial Pocket Approach (CPA). The IOD PARC CPA study examined in detail both ENBAITA and the iDE led UKAID BRACED funded Anukulan project (2015-19). The study found CPA raised household incomes by 40.8% (p<.05), with particularly strong empowerment benefits for women and girls. The study also found CPA sustainable, more cost effective than alternatives, and recommended scaling the approach. The ENBAITA CPA has been highlighted by the Market Development Forum Nepal, including during a major event in 2019 facilitated by the Chamber of Commerce to orient Province 3 government on creating an enabling environment for private sector investment in agriculture. ENBAITA has also transformed the way major Indian Agro manufacturing companies invest in last mile supply chain development with their Nepal partner distributers.
ENBAITA Post Project Initiatives
The Commercial Pockets, networks, and partnerships developed by ENBAITA have been utilized post project by the private sector, including Indian Agro company partners, government, iDE in pilot programs, communities, and the USAID FTF Initiative.
Key ENBAITA-enabled developments include:
As the COVID-19 crisis developed, iDE began using cell phones, SMS text, and Facebook to mobilize the ENBAITA last mile actors. iDE has enabled them to provide critical extension information to cope with the Fall Armyworm (FAW) that arrived in 2019 and threatens food security in Nepal. The system also provides the last mile actors and farmers associated with collection centers and CBFs information to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Crop Finance and Insurance
ENBAITA developed a partnership with Muktinath Bikas Bank Limited (MBBL) to facilitate non-collateral agricultural loans to 600 small farmers in ENBAITA commercial pockets. With support from MEDA Innovate and UKAID, iDE worked with MBBL in 2019 to enable collection centers to wholesale small farmer loans and locally manage crop insurance. In the pilot, over 1,000 farmers borrowed $200,000 and 300 farmers purchased crop insurance. Following this highly successful pilot program, the MBBL board has endorsed the new business correspondent loan product linked to crop insurance. (Read more: MEDA Innovate Final Report | MEDA Innovate Video)
FAW and IPM
ENBAITA developed strong relationships with Indian IPM based plant protection companies Rentokil PCI and T.Stanes. ENBAITA also facilitated a partnership with the CABI Plantwise program to train CBFs to be Plant Doctors recognized and supported by the Nepal government. This approach was highly effective in controlling the exotic Tuta Absoluta tomato pest that arrived in Nepal in 2016, CABI/GON have requested to scale training CBFs to be Plant Doctors. (Read more: CABI Blog with CBF Plant Doctor Video) iDE, the USAID IPM Innovation Lab, and GON are utilizing the ENBAITA networks, partners, and approaches to cope with FAW that arrived in 2019. Rentokil PCI has participated in orientations and trainings in Nepal and rapidly exported over 3,500 FAW lures in 2019.
Nepal has made a transition to a new Federal system of government with three levels: Federal, Provincial, and Municipal. This has resulted in major disruptions of extension systems as experienced staff did not transfer to municipalities. In many communities, ENBAITA last mile actors are being utilized by municipal governments to support extension activities. The Karnali province is in the processing of going organic, Rentokil PCI and T.Stanes are playing a key role in providing products and technical support for the effort.
SMS Text and Weather Information
ENBAITA played key roles in initiating collection center use of SMS and piloting of local weather stations. Eight of the ENBAITA collection centers are currently receiving regular SMS messages during the COVID-19 crisis; in addition iDE is sending SMS to 1,600 of their members, including farmer group leaders. ENBAITA demonstrated that collection centers are a trusted source of information for their member farmers, and their endorsement of SMS information is critical to farmers taking action.
The Swiss company ENOS has developed a low cost, durable solar water pump suited to the Nepal hills that is manufactured by Jain Irrigation in India. ENOS has selected the ENBAITA distributor Krishna Grill to market the Sunlight Pump and has trained ENBAITA CBFs to promote and service the pump. A first shipment of 11 pumps arrived in 2019.
Multiple use Water Systems (MUS)
ENBAITA facilitated agricultural support to communities that tested 4 MUS using solar lifting. Linked with last mile agricultural support, lift MUS are highly successful and being scaled. ENBAITA facilitated testing a new approach to MUS finance in Gaidatok Syanga. The community repaid MUS construction costs to a revolving fund managed by the local rural collection centers. iDE now utilizes this approach for most new MUS, including 20 MUS for over 400 households supported in the UKAID BRACED funded Anukulan Project.
ENBAITA's focus was to work with India agricultural input companies to develop last mile supply chains. ENBAITA developed collection centers and markets that continue to export vegetables to India, it is estimate that about 5% of vegetable exports from the Januniya border of Nepalung are from an ENBAITA pocket in Surkhet District.
USAID Feed The Future (FTF) Support
The ENBAITA last mile supply chains have been integrated into the Nepal FTF Initiative, from the Indian agricultural companies to the last mile CBF agents. About 10 CBFs / CBF Plant Doctors have been engaged directly by FTF private partners to provide services as salaried staff.
Community Business Facilitators (CBFs)
The CBFs play a crucial role in reaching poor rural farmers with advanced agricultural technologies and technical support. The CBFs represent the only private sector extension services at scale in rural Nepal. Government extension does not have the mandate to market and backstop particular private sector technologies. Commercial technologies like IPM and drip irrigation require strong technical support. Smallholders can only become commercial if they access private sector extension services. The CBFs were shown to be profitable, to increase farmer’s incomes, and to be sustainable. For example in the 4 western region districts ENBAITA interventions ended in year 2. Post project in year 3, CBFs increased their HH coverage from 11,565 to 13,902 and increased farmer aggregate income increased from $2.2m to $4.1m.
The Way Forward
The ENBAITA last mile supply chain approach represents a model for private sector companies and development initiatives to scale import of advanced agro technologies that increase productivity, food security, resilience, jobs and income as well as exports of high-value agro products. It represents a model approach to support the USAID Indo-Pacific Strategy of strengthening trade, mobilizing major Indian agro companies and their Nepal counterparts to overcome trade barriers and to facilitate Nepal access to Indian company technical support and innovation. The ENBAITA established supply chain networks are being utilized by new companies including India based Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. and can be effectively reached by companies to promote new products and best practices utilizing SMS and ICT. ENBAITA partner Muktinath Bikas Bank is expanding access to non-collateral loans to finance smallholder purchase of advanced agro technologies through the last mile actors. Utilizing the ENBAITA networks offers a proven cost effective way to assist the economy to cope with and recover from the COVID-19 crises and facilitate transfer of international innovations.
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Country Director, iDE NepalCorey O'Hara, PhD
With expertise in the interactions between agricultural markets, diets, and gender and social inclusion, Corey leads iDE's standout team in Nepal to build market ecosystems that benefit everyone.