Brussels, 15 June 2017/ ACP: Success stories of the ACP Commodities Programme launched in 2015/2016 were showcased in a special information session held yesterday on 12 June 2017 at the ACP Secretariat, highlighting best practices and opportunies for farmers and villages to improve productivity, income and skills.

Under the chairmanship of the ASG for Sustainable Economic Development and Trade, Mr Viwanou GNASSOUNOU, the four implementing agencies of the programme took turn to describe how they are harnessing innovative approaches to meet the set objective of increased food availability and higher small farmer incomes in the different ACP regions. The programme directly benefits 36 countries in the Pacific, the Caribbean and different parts of Africa.

Thus, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) uses the Farmer Business Approach (FBS) to sensitize farmers to market opportunities and introduce good agricultural practices that improve productivity, family income, and nutrition. The core of the approach is income-oriented decision making based on cost-benefit analyses of different technologies for a lead crop and two other food crops. In the case of the five cocoa producing countries covered by the programme, trained farmers find it easier to access credit from microfinance institutions. Over 50% of the beneficiary farmer associations now resort to bulk purchasing of inputs and practice bulk sales, with positive impact on members incomes.

FAO, which covers 7 roots & tubers producing African countries under the programme, explained how a market-led approach is fostering growth of the cassava value-chain in Malawi. Value-chain analysis led to the identification of alternative processes whereby rural-based MSMEs could produce cassava wet cakes as semi-processed inputs to an urban-based larger processor. This business model enables value-addition and income generation at village level. To ensure profitability, the business management skills and processing skills of members of targeted Farmer Organisations will have to be upgraded.

Tasked with implementing the “Coconut industry development for the Caribbean” component of the programme in collaboration with CARDI, the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC) promotes alliances among actors of the value-chain to ensure a win-win outcome for all. For instance, in the Dominican Republic, the established alliances include farmers, processors, retailers and investors. In the east of the country, the programme is linking some 3,000 farmers who produce coconut and coconut products to the hotel and tourism industry. ITC and CARDI are also working with processors in developing new products and adopting lean production principles to enhance enterprise competitiveness. In return for such support, and as members of the alliances, processors commit to buy farmers’ outputs at fair prices.

Last to take the floor (and to launch implementation), the Pacific Community emphasized the importance partnerships and modern media (twitter, facebook, etc) in information and knowledge sharing that contribute to successful programmes. Forthcoming activities to the benefit of the Pacific coconut value-chain were also outlined. These will include market studies, training as well as an inventory of financing options for the industry.

During the Q&A session, participants queried, inter alia, about the involvement of stakeholders, and the extent to which science underpins the work of the implementing agencies. During discussions on value-addition, the importance of quality inputs for processing was underscored, while the meeting was reminded that diversification can focus on end-product as well as by-products. A key overall message was the need to ensure that resources spent have an impact on the small farmers in terms of increase in income, job creation and poverty reduction.

(Photo: ACP Assistant Secretary General Mr. Viwanou Gnassounou)

See also:

Investment and Transformation in the ACP Agriculture Sector: A new approach to ACP Group support for the development of agriculture value chains

For more information on ACP Commodities programmes, contact Expert – Trade & Commodities, Ms. Yvonne Chileshe, or +32 2 743 0600.