The Coady Institute’s Livelihoods and Market Course was facilitated by
Farouk Jiwa, Senior Technical Advisor – Economic Development, CARE and
Yogesh Ghore, Senior Program Staff, Coady International Institute,
St. Francis Xavier University
Ackim Nyambi – Marketing and Enterprise Development Coordinator, Malawi
The Livelihoods and Marketing training course held in Ethiopia completely transformed my marketing mindset. The Livelihoods and Marketing training course held in Ethiopia attracted 30 participants from different countries, and allowed a platform for experience sharing in how value chain projects are being implemented in different contexts. The classroom presentations by participants also gave the group opportunities to talk through practical situations happening on the ground. We found some commonalities across contexts. Specifically that value chain projects require more time, probably five years. This is because they require a mutual understanding among actors on all levels of the value chain, which involves changing mindsets. There are two major roles played by implementing agencies in the value chain:
1. Nurturing collectives for sustainability of value chain process. The farmers need to be taught concepts of group cohesion such group dynamics and quality product production. The ordinary groups should be registered as associations or cooperatives so that they are recognized as business entity.
2. Sustainable linkages to input and out suppliers. There is lack of trust between traders and farmers; farmers claim that traders tamper with their weighing scales while on the other hand traders complain that farmers add water to nuts to gain more weight.
The major problem affecting value chain projects in Africa is that input suppliers such as seed, insecticide, fertilizer, equipments etc are based in urban areas several kilometers away from smallholder farmers. This forces farmers to use conventional means in agriculture. One of the solutions learnt in Ethiopia is through introduction of micro-franchising or agro dealers. In Malawi, this can be done achieved through mobilization of village savings groups to start agro dealing.
Globalization has also had a significant impact on smallholder famers. In many ways globalization is good, but it is killing smallholder farmers in Africa because they are forced to compete with big international farmers. These corporate farms have access to credits from banks, use sophisticated equipment, etc.. Local farmers are failing to meet the same quality standards as that achieved by big international farmers. One way value chain interventions can address this problem is by nurturing collectives so that, as a group, they can produce high-quality outputs. Value chain projects can also minimize the impact of international competition by ensuring quality production in all the processes of value chain through good and timely access to agriculture inputs including good transportation systems, advanced agriculture systems, usage of new post-harvest technologies, and collective marketing. It is also important that collectives have the ability to write local project proposals to government and nongovernmental organization to access financial support for running interventions.
I am working as Marketing and Enterprise Development coordinator and the lessons I learned in Addis Ababa will be used to mentor my field staff on the ground and other projects running similar interventions.
Jerome Mackay – Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Pathways, Tanzania
‘’Before attending this Course, I had a number of Questions in my mind related to how effectively I can facilitate Value Chain Analysis, as this course has come to an end I am now well equipped with tools and skills that needed for carrying out value chain process as one of the means to livelihoods for rural communities.’’ These were comments from one of the Participant from Ethiopia. I participated in this course for the sole aim of acquiring skills and knowledge on livelihood and markets that will broaden my professional practice in working with poor women smallholder farmers in Southern Tanzania on Pathways Program.
Among a number of interesting and helpful tools on how to deal with value chain issues, my biggest takeaway was a broader understanding of the intersection of globalization and poverty, and how they link to current development work done by INGOs. I also gained a deep understanding of sub-sector and value chain approaches.
I will put into the knowledge I acquired from Market and Livelihood Course into practice by training my fellow colleagues in what I learned. Attending this course has strengthened my skills and practice on value chain projects that will be useful in implementing day to day Pathways interventions. Also, the stakeholder mapping exercise helped me think through how to effectively work with stakeholders involved in program interventions.
Issahaku Hardi – Pathways Project Officer, Ghana
I am very happy that I had this opportunity to participate in this community-driven learning approach. It has always been my dream to take this course since 2010.
I have learned a lot of lessons from the program that will help me work more efficiently with my constituency to achieve the goals set up to help smallholder women farmers attain self-confidence and empowerment. I have learned not only from the course tutors, but from colleagues around the world who shared their experiences with me. I also had an opportunity to learn from, and interacted with, seasoned value chain practitioners and their approaches.
I benefitted most by learning about social enterprises development, the sustainable livelihood framework and market-led approaches to sustainable development. Participation in this course will help me to work more efficiently and to design better strategies to engage with both the private sector and the market, for the benefit of the poor rural woman in northern Ghana. I will be in a better position to analyze the sector, and to come out with the right approaches to achieving sustainable social change. I will also be able to build the capacity of my colleagues and partner staff in various forms.
Salome Mhango, Assistant Project Manager
I participated in this course in order to learn how to better implement a value chain programme. The skills I acquired in livelihoods and markets can be applied directly to my day to day work and will make me more comfortable in engaging with the market. This course was just awesome – the content was very appealing, as well as the facilitation, but the case studies and videos made the whole thing practical/doable. Definitely my team mates in Pathways will be briefed on case study projects such as WE Rise. We will also become more innovative based on what we learnt as we engage with the markets for better livelihoods. There is need for more forums of this nature because they are great learning opportunities.