The combined efforts of the three Rome-based agencies allow smallholder farmers to access comprehensive support that a single agency could not provide alone. Each agency brings its own expertise to the table, combining FAO’s technical expertise in agriculture and natural resource management, IFAD’s policy dialogue and strong linkages with the Government and WFP’s logistics expertise and demand. Although the work of these agencies is complementary, differing business models, implementation areas and project cycles can sometimes make collaboration challenging.
In order to overcome these challenges in Zambia, a joint mapping exercise was carried out to identify the location, theme and time frame of each agency’s activities in the country. This exercise helped identify overlaps and potential synergies. In Zambia, directors and programme staff from each agency meet on a quarterly basis to provide updates on their respective operations and discuss.
The Rome-based agencies
FAO, IFAD and WFP – known as the Rome-based agencies – share a common vision of promoting world food security by ending hunger and eliminating its root causes. In many countries, P4P provided a neat intersection for the mandates of the three agencies.
- FAO is the lead specialized agency of the United Nations in the international fight against hunger and malnutrition.
- IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries where the majority of the world’s poorest people live.
- WFP is the United Nations frontline agency mandated to combat global hunger, which afflicts about one out of every nine people on earth.
Agricultural skills, infrastructure and an assured market
[photo|648381] Chimpili Cooperative joined WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) project in 2012. The strong collaboration between the three Rome-based agencies means the farmers are increasingly able to access well-coordinated services along the entire value chain. On the supply side, FAO has identified the farmers as eligible participants for the Conservation Agriculture Scale-Up Programme (CASU), which teaches intercropping and diversification to strengthen agricultural skills and natural resource management. The farmers of Chimpili have an incentive to invest in these new techniques because they know they will be able to market their crops to WFP. The food supplied is used in the Home Grown School Feeding programme, supplying schoolchildren with meals based on locally-produced foods.
The rural cooperative now has an agribusiness centre which contains a warehouse, offices and a hammer mill. The agribusiness centre strengthens the cooperative’s business opportunities by enabling them to aggregate greater quantities for sale while preserving crop quality and adding value to their crops. Despite these gains, the poor quality of the road leading to and from the village limited the farmers’ ability to access larger-scale markets. In 2016 the road will be rehabilitated as part of IFAD’s work to develop infrastructure in Zambia, unlocking the potential of smallholder farmers and enabling them to access diversified markets.
Mindset shift leads to seeing farming as a business
[photo|648382] The intersection of these initiatives has generated sustainable change for the farmers of Chimpili. In 2012, the cooperative had 40 members and marketed US$15,000 worth of crops to WFP. By 2015, membership had risen to 300 farmers, with sales to WFP valued at US$148,000. As the cooperative grew, members began more and more to see their work in agriculture as a business endeavour. Chimpili is now inviting seed companies to use the warehouse to market higher quality seed to the cooperatives’ farmers.
“That’s the wonderful thing about markets: once you’ve created an environment where money can be made, private sector players will come,” says Frank Hofmann, Head of German Cooperation to Zambia, who provided funding for the Chimpili Agribusiness centre and other P4P activities in the country.
To ensure transparent leadership, Chimpili now has a Management Committee of 11 members, who are elected every three years. Newly elected member Felix Chanda says that since joining P4P, Chimpili’s earnings from marketing crops have increased almost ten-fold. These gains can be seen clearly in the village: farmers have replaced grass roofing with metal sheeting, and today there are three cars and more than 10 motorbikes where previously there were none.
One farmer, Harriet Chabala, has increased her production of beans by 50 percent over the last two years. Based on her entrepreneurial skills and consistent supply to WFP for the last three marketing seasons, she received an equipment loan from the cooperative for a tricycle. The tricycle can navigate poor quality roads, enabling Harriet to provide transport services to move crops, inputs and people to and from towns and markets. She says, “I have agreed to repay this loan in three years, but I plan to do it in one.”
[photo|648387]To continue developing, Felix says Chimpili needs more public services, including better links to mobile phone networks and mobile money, electricity and irrigation technology.
Representatives from each of the Rome-based agencies are determined to increase the scope and impact of collaboration. Joint planning to improve coordination and increasingly harmonize each agency’s approach can be more time consuming and complex than implementing programmes individually. However, once complementarities are found and strengthened they can catalyse even greater change.
According to Simon Cammelbeeck, WFP Country Director for Zambia: “Last-mile agricultural service delivery and input-output marketing in Zambia’s remote rural areas is perhaps the biggest constraint to improving smallholders’ income, food and nutrition security. Solutions to this challenge must begin with remote smallholder farmers themselves, and then must involve active intervention with stakeholders to ensure that facilities are well utilized and add value to agriculture value chains. The Rome-based agencies are well-placed to contribute to finding these solutions by leveraging their convening power, impartiality and technical expertise.”
Ireen Musonda, Secretary, Chimpili Farmers' Cooperative, tells about her experience working with P4P: