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One of the best moments of the week, is when I get around to read one of the latest issues of The Economist, as typically I have to catch up with two and sometimes three issues!

What ever the case may be, I love that fraction of a second when I go the pile in my room and pick the latest issues, because I know I’ll be spending a couple of gratifying hours.

The readers of IFAD Social Reporter blog will remember our coverage of the Second Global AgriKnowledge Share Fair and Rob Burnet’s keynote address “Sex and Money”. 

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when in reading the Christmas issue of The Economist, I came across the story entitled “Kenya and Charles Dickens: Great expectations - Some parts of Kenya can justly be called Dickensian”. 

In this issue, The Economist covered the story of  DJ Titus Twist -  the very person at the heart of Rob's keynote speech. The very person who kept 400+ participants in a state of awe for over 40 minutes. The very same person who came to life thanks to the artistic talent and creativity of our very own Nancy White.

I was so happy that the story of DJ Titus Twist had made it to The Economist! Kudos to Well Told Story, kudos to Shujaaz, kudos to DJ Titus Twish, and kudos to Rob and all the team.

And as I was reading the article, I thought to myself thanks to DJ Titus, a slice of Share Fair and #sfrome also made it to The Economist!

For those who missed Rob Burnet’s keynote address: “Sex and Money”, you can remedy by watching the inaugural ceremony of the Share Fair. Rob’s keynote is around 50th minute to the recording.   
Also make sure you read the blogposts from our army of social reporters and check out issue 3 of the Daily Corriere
For us at IFAD, the Share Fair was one of the many highlights of 2011. We would like to finish the year by paying tribute to all our keynote speakers -  Etienne Wenger, Rob Burnet, Mark Davies and Michele Payn-Knoper; to our army of social reports; to the insightful presenters; to the wonderful facilitators; to our sister-agencies; to the steering committee members; to all our partners; to the 700+ participants who for four days energized our building, to the volunteers  and to the wonderful share fair support team, who on 21 December received one of the 2011 staff awards,  for their instrumental role in making this event such as memorable one.

In closing, we wish you all a Happy New Year. May 2012 be a peaceful and prosperous one for everyone and let's join forces to keep the spirit of #sfrome alive. 

This afternoon we came together for the 2011 staff award ceremony.

IFAD staff awards is very special. What makes it different from other awards and recognitions is the fact that its an award for staff by staff.

Every year we have the opportunity to nominate and reward our colleagues and peer for their leadership, for being agents of change, for spearheading and contributing to an outstanding project and/or activity.

And this year, we had the opportunity to honour 27 extraordinary colleagues!


Our lovely colleague Shyam Khadka got the award in the leadership category. The award paid tribute to Shyam’s eloquent and consistent leadership, to his role as the “programme management department anchor” for all major corporate evaluations including direct supervision and country presence. Shyam was recognized for his strong negotiating skills, ability to constructively engagement with others, his tact, his relentless focus on achieve the best possible results. Shyam is not only a leader, but a mentor and a role model for many of us. This year's award for leadership could not have gone to anyone better than Shyam!


In a true team spirit and to celebrate cross-departmental and cross-divisional work - the embodiment of breaking down silos - two teams got the awards in the outstanding project/initiative category.

Shamela Brown, Victoria Chiartano, Paola de Leva and Amedeo Paglione were awarded for having conceived, planned, developed and implemented the Member States Interactive Platform. The award recognized the hard work that went into turning this initiative into reality. They were acknowledged for their vision, commitment, for coming together from different parts of the house, to provide IFAD with a better way to effectively communicate with our donors.

The other team is one known to the readers of IFAD Social Reporting blog - the team who worked behind the scenes to make the Second Global AgriKnowledge Share Fair possible. This team that was instrumental in opening IFAD's doors to 700 participants from 60 countries in September 2011. Thanks to the exemplary teamwork of Alessio Accardi, Christian Assogba, Fabio Caruso, Jean Philippe Decraene, Christian De Santis, Roberto De Tora, Severino Manuel, Roberto Montalto, Dave Nolan, Birgit Plockinger, Roberto Rea, Beate Stalsett, Elisabetta Vaccari and Florence Yu,  IFAD was able to orchestrate an “out-of-the-box” and successful event. They are indeed a dream team, a true testament of "IFAD at its best" and  sterling example of team work within and between divisions, one that cuts through divisional and departmental silos, and gives true definition to the word team.

We finished by celebrating three extraordinary colleagues and our GoGreenGroup as agents of change.


Rahel Getachew was rewarded for consistently showing relentless commitment to excellence and for always going the extra mile. Rahel was recognized for enhancing IFAD’s image, both internally and externally, she was recognized as being the embodiment of the true professional, tirelessly gracious and tenaciously supportive even when under the most intense of pressure.  The award paid tribute to her many wonderful attributes which are appreciated by all levels of staff and stakeholders, and reinforces the recognition of all the hard work done by Rahel,  that is not always visible but that is the foundation of the organization's internal strength.


Hubert Boirard  was recognized for his outstanding performance in managing the challenging country portfolio of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Everyone recognized his efforts in transforming Sierra Leone portfolio into  high performing and disbursing one. He was commended for implementing an innovative project management unit as an integral part of the Ministry of Agriculture in Liberia.  Thanks to Hubert's work,  the World Bank and African Development Bank decided this year to  assign their programmes to be managed by this project management unit. The award recognized Hubert’s abilities and skills of innovator and change agent  delivering tangible results that turned around the performance of the country  portfolios in Sierra Leone and Liberia.


Dina Nabeel, who unfortunately was not present, was recognized for her initiatives to drive and support the changes that facilitated and allowed IFAD to successfully take over the responsibility of supervising  its projects. Her work was instrumental in building staff capacity at headquarters and in the field to handle fiduciary aspects associated with supervision and implementation support. This award recognized Dina’s ability as a change agent that supports and motivate peers to deliver important changes in the way we work which has led to tangible improvements  of project results on the ground.

We paid tribute to the IFAD Go Green Group, composed of  Moses Abukari, Hazel Bedford, Miriam Blanco, Steven Jonckheere and Sabine Pallas for their outstanding contribution in promoting a green and environmental friendly attitude at corporate level. The Go Green Group was established as small group of volunteers in August 2008, following the Secretary-General’s request to launch a UN initiative to reduce energy consumption and the carbon footprint of the United Nations Headquarters. The group has had its share of challenges, as initially it was met with some scepticism. However, their  passion and tenacity has inspired many colleagues to the point where IFAD is now working together with other UN agencies in the Sustainable UN network to become climate neutral by putting in place systems to reduce IFAD’s environmental impact (Greening the Blue Initiative).


We all look forward to 2012 edition of IFAD staff award, which will definitely pay tribute to many more colleagues. And before I sign-off, congratulations to Ron Hartman for receiving the Presidential award. We all thank Ron for his great work in re-engaging with Australia. And happy holidays to all our readers. May 2012 be a peaceful and prosperous year for you all.

Monitoring and Evaluating the IFAD Country Programme in Ghana

Posted by Adriane Del Torto Thursday, December 15, 2011 1 comments

by Adriane Del Torto
 
Monitorting and Evaluation (M&E) is often considered one of the weakest links in development programmes. This is also true for IFAD. The IFAD Country Programme in Ghana took this as a challenge to overcome and started to invest in M&E about two years ago. After putting an emphasis on this theme for some time now, it was finally decided that the stakeholders involved in M&E should get together to share successes and address the gaps that still exist in M&E. From 12 to 14 December, a Ghana Country Programme Learning and Exchange Workshop on M&E took place at the Alisa Hotel in Accra.


The workshop , organised by the IFAD Country Office in close collaboration with the West Africa Rural Foundation (WARF) brought together representatives from all IFAD projects, the Roots and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Project (RTIMP), Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP), Rural Enterprises Programme( REP II), Rural Agriculture Finance Programme( RAFIP), Northern Region Poverty Reduction Project (NORPREP), WARF, the Government of Ghana - the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFIP) and the National Development and Planning Commission (NDPC) and partners IFPRI/SAKKSS, IPA, University of Ghana, Busylab , Esoko Mobile Technology, in  an innovative and interactive workshop.

The overall objective of this workshop is to identify how to use M&E to its fullest capacities. This means using the information generated by M&;E on implementation progress as a management tool rather than an institutional requirement. The workshop helped identify outcomes, output and impact of projects while emphasising on the qualitative side of M&E which is often excluded.

The basis of the discussion were the newfound focus on M&E for the Ghana Country Programme, the recommendations from the last country programme supervision mission (which took place mid November to mid December 2011) , the current national and project M&E structures, capitalisation efforts and finally research in M&E undertaken by our implementation partners.

After each project identified the key issues raised by the supervision mission, the partners making their presentations, the workshop allowed each project to review the M&E indicators making sure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound) and ensure that these indicators are the right one to measure the outcomes and impacts desired by the project. It also allowed for the identification of research needs that will improve the M&E and impact reporting


The workshop highlighted the good results in M&E in the Ghana portfolio until now, and also how much these efforts contribute daily to the improvement of the systems and the improvements still needed. Most importantly, projects have shared and exchanged on how to improve their indicators and how to address the difficulties they are facing. Some recurrent themes are the following:

- need to improve data collection at the field level by involving beneficiaries and possibly digitalising
- need to strengthen grassroots institutions
- need for data control at all levels
- need for better data management and analysis
- need for commitment of all actors
- need to fill information gaps through studies
- need to identify, undersand and maintain linkages
- need for better gender mainstreaming
- need to identify further partnerships through good planning

Each project came up with an action plan during the workshop that will be mainstreamed into the AWPB to ensure its implementation.

Most importantly, a topic that came up on many occasions is the importance of good communication and the importance of making the time to exchange on the positive outcomes achieved. In order to ensure good communication there are several Fora in Ghana to ensure exchanges between stakeholders on themes of on microfinance, rural finance and value chains. Furthermore, WARF and FIDAFRIQUE are imporant partners in Ghana but also for IFAD projects in West and Central Africa: they help will ensure that the information to be shared is well articulated and diffused on the regional platform.


Outstanding challenges and considerations for the future are how to make adequate time to engage in proper M&E activities and to ensure that the lessons learned from good M&E fit into policy dialogue.


IFAD projects in Ghana: Improving livelihoods

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, December 12, 2011 0 comments


Women fixing the squeezer to drain water
from the grated cassava at the Milenovisi Gari Processing factory

by Philomena  Dovi Kuzoe

Eastern Region, Ghana- A team from the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD in Rome was in Ghana for a four day working visit to attend the Country Programme Evaluation round table and the start-up workshop for the new Country Strategic Opportunities Programmes.  The team, together with the CPM and Officials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture made a field visit to IFAD’s project sites in the Eastern region of Ghana This is to enable them have first-hand information on projects.. In all, the team visited four project sites. First, the team met with the Fanteakwa District Chief Executive, the Coordinating Director of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises and other project staff and clients. They discussed the implementation and activities of the Rural Enterprises Project as well as the district assembly’s effort to maintain and sustain the project.  The District Offices operate the Business Advisory Centers initiated by the Rural Enterprises Project and these centers have become a model for national MSE policy in the country.

From Fanteakwa, the team moved to a local soap-making factory at Otuater.   A small group made up of only 17 women and one man, the group has become the leading soap supplier in the district and beyond. At the factory the women were seen busily cutting, branding and packaging their soap.   The Rural Enterprise Project, REP spotted this group during an exhibition and trade fair.  According to the group, being in touch with REP has transformed their operations; they now make good sales, have created market linkages and also learnt new technologies and skills.  They also support their husbands and are able to send their children to school. The District Chief Executive Officer promised the women a car to enable  them transport their products to the market especially on market-days when the soap is in high demand.

The IOE team and officials of the South Akim Rural Bank
The team moved from this point to Nankese, a cocoa farming community where the 2009 best rural bank, the South Akyim Rural Bank is headquartered. The bank was ranked the 20th on the Ghana Club 100 list in 2010.  It enrolled as a participating Financial Institution of REP II in 2006 to deliver financial services to target micro and small enterprises in the district. According to the officials of the bank the establishment of the Business Advisory Centers, (BAC) has been very beneficial and the bank has collaborated effectively with the center to support project clients to establish their businesses. However it was noted that despite the bank’s large clientele, only three people applied for a matching grant which is provided by REP.  Rural banks in the country lend to the rural clients but usually not for agricultural activities and 73 per cent of staff of these banks perceived agricultural lending to be riskier than other lending types.   But at the South Akyim Rural Bank, 70 per cent of its clients are agro-processors making it agriculture-friendly.


The last point of call was the Milenovisi gari processing factory at Korkormu. The facility at the centre has been upgraded to a Good Practices Center. The group is also a good example of the value chain concept with 106 actors including farmers, traders, transporters and fabricators. We couldn’t have concluded the trip without visiting a gari processing factory.

Gari is one form of processed cassava and is eaten all over the country making it a marketable commodity. It is vital to reducing post-harvest food losses and increases food availability in Ghana. Gari, if stored properly can last for a year without going bad. Through REP//RTIMP the gari processing center has recorded tremendous success.

It was an exciting field trip seeing how much small scale business are improving the lives of the rural poor and contributing to the development of the country through project implementation. As we journeyed back to Accra, I was wondering whether these laudable projects could be sustained and maintained in view of the weak marketing opportunities.


Second Global AgriKnowledge Share Fair: After Action review #sfrome

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, December 8, 2011 0 comments

by Willem Bettink


Weeks after the closing of the Sharefair a large group of organizers, facilitators, volunteers, and presenters came together to do an After Action review(AAR). The AAR is a excellent knowledge sharing method to assess how things went: an event , a mission or a meeting. It allows you to benefit from the collective perspectives , experiences and learning of organizing and participating in a particular event .

The AAR for the Global Share fair was centred around a number  of questions to collect people’s feedback. For example we asked:  “What worked  well and why?”; “What could have been done differently or better?”; “What surprised you ?”; and finally “What  advice do you have for future share fair organizers”.

All expressed with enthusiasm that the Share fair was  a great event given  its spread, depth and diversity offered in the 9  themes resulting in more than 130 sessions. As one participant said: “The buzz in and around the IFAD building was very inspiring –I wish it could be like this always !!”

There was some very exciting and interesting stuff presented ranging from the numerous training sessions on knowledge methods, to more substantive topics such as “ how to  extract fertilizer from marble dust”, how to improve  working of a Community of Practice to  three very inspiring and out of the box key note  addresses  by Etienne Wenger, Rob Burnett and Mark Davies

People liked the market fair lay out with the tent and the bigger and smaller meeting rooms –best if they were emptied of meeting tables. The graphics and communication gave a very colourful and exciting ‘feel ‘ and transformed the IFAD building into a big open and creative and stimulating place.

Alas only 4 daily issues were possible of the Daily Corriere- after which it had to close ….. and the Chief Editor is looking for a new challenge…  

The social media coverage of the Global Share fair was very good: from the thousands of tweets to introducing the live twitter wall , live webcasting of key note addresses and thematic sessions, over 50 blogs of sessions and multiple video interviews and tons of pictures. All of this social reporting material helped and added value to the event for those who could not attend it in person and enabled writing of parts this publication.

In short it seems that the Second Global Agriknowledge Share fair was a big success. But was there anything that did not go well or could have been done differently or better? Yes  …there  was  quite a lot that AAR participants came up with as could have been better or could be improved:

The format and lay out of call for proposal, to be filled out and submitted by those who wished to present /share their story, was not done very well. It obliged the organizers to send out a second form to obtain a better focus by asking participants what would be the three take away messages ; and how they wished to organize their  session and if they had any special requirements. In all this need to be changed for a future global share fair.

The registration process resulted in more than 700 participants over the 4 days. Doing the registration felt like a steep learning curve- from no previous experience, finding and losing our ways through the hundreds of emails, to becoming registration experts by the end of the fair. A lot to be improved here – from earlier responses needed to whom requested financing, to the visa registration process. A software application may help in making it less burdensome on the eyes and sleep of the human actor….

While people enjoyed the luxury choice from 130 sessions, it was felt there were far too many  parallel sessions- consider quality versus quantity. Often one could not attend 1st choice due to the parallel nature. As one consequence several sessions  had very few participants due to competing sessions. In future organizers should aim at a reduced number of sessions, thus allowing participants to go to more session and their preferred choices. Second one could try to  join into one session similar topics e.g.  a chat show as was done with social media , private sector and agricultural research.

The  social reporting team should have been led by dedicated person(s) and set –up earlier e.g.  a month before the event in conjunction with draft programme. This would enable better planning of full coverage of session, seeking out needed skills in the social reporting team and build-up momentum and sharing of ideas amongst the team members. Do not ask facilitators to be at the same time social reporters-it proofed to be hard to focus on facilitation and collecting information for a blog afterwards- quality of one or both may suffer!

Quality of content, presentation and chosen interaction during of sessions could be improved. First of all the facilitators of each session were identified and informed far too late, not allowing them enough time to interact and prepare with session presenters. Lack of clarity on  knowledge sharing methods by presenters hampered inter-active nature of  sessions. Finally consider better approach to determine the quality and richness of content at an early stage of submission for programme.

The training day was hugely successful and did not build further through the program. Next time have training opportunities woven across the four days.

An experiment tested at the KM4Dev face-to face meeting is that during the last day of a future Share fair, you ask people to spend 15 minutes to write a commitment to action. These commitment are then shared at the marketplace of commitments , so that people may find out what they can do together, harvest commitment to actions , and follow up 3-6 months to asseds what happened.

The above reflections, feedback and suggestions are just a selection of the wealth of insights harvested during the AAR sessions. We are going to solicit feedback from all 700 participants through a short electronic survey in early 2012. The aim is to assess what has been the impact of the Global Share fair on people’s  behaviour, old and new work practices, and  personal and professional networks.  And in looking ahead we will ask you for new  ideas, suggestions, or wishes you may have for any future share fair.

Agriculture In! (721 and counting...)

Posted by Jeffrey A Brez Wednesday, December 7, 2011 2 comments


by Jeff Brez in Durban

Should agriculture be on the climate change agenda? What impact would this have? The ball is in the court of COP 17 attendees to assess the game changing impact of negotiations at COP 17 in Durban.

If you are at the COP – come to booth 18 to show your skill at getting ‘Agriculture In!’ 721 COP attendees have already played.

IFAD teamed up with the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) to design the game and raise awareness on agriculture’s role in climate change at COP 17 in Durban.


‘Agriculture In’ is a ball game with 3 targets designed to address the significance of agriculture and how it can contribute to poverty reduction, food security, building resilience, and improving environmental outcomes including reducing GHG emissions.

The Targets:
  • Green Climate Fund
  • SBSTA Work Programme
  • Mitigation Finance for Farmers




These are all opportunities for negotiators to ensure that the worlds 1 billion poor rural people, most of whom rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, benefit from climate finance.

“Poor smallholder farmers, typically women are on the front line of climate change impacts yet they don’t benefit enough from climate finance,” says Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division, “climate finance can help scale up investments in sustainable agriculture and research that will help them adapt to changing weather conditions and contribute to global food security.”

“Agriculture is the foundation of most African economies and the most climate-sensitive sector so it is imperative that it forms part of the agenda at this year’s COP17,” said Ishmael Sunga, CEO of SACAU. “This game not only highlights that but also the specific areas of intervention such as the need for the establishment of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) Work Program on Agriculture that covers both adaptation and mitigation and addresses the needs of African farmers.”

Journalists and all those attending the COP (especially negotiators!) are invited to test their ball skills while getting a better understanding of agriculture and its importance at stand 18 of the ICC/DEC.

Prizes allocated for winners name the many benefits for farmers and wider communities if agriculture is included: Improved Food Security, Lasting Poverty Reduction, Enhanced Biodiversity, Reduced GHG Emissions, More trees, More Resilient Livelihoods.

by Jeff Brez in Durban

Anticipation is building that sectoral text under the LCA may lead to the approval by the Parties of a work programme under SBSTA for agriculture here in Durban. The demand on the ground from farmers communities and governments for climate-smart agriculture as a means to tackle poverty reduction, food security, climate resilience, improved environmental outcomes and reduced emissions is already strong and continues to grow. Many feel that a SBSTA Work Programme would help agriculture take early action to determine the long-term investments needed to transform agriculture to meet future challenges.

Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of South Africa, opened the Agriculture and Rural Development Day, this past Saturday, and told journalists, “Agriculture must adapt to a changing climate and at the same time contribute to reducing emissions. We have a huge dichotomy between smallholder and large-scale farming, but… smallholder farming is now also being seen as an opportunity for food security as well as economic growth… not just as a social development programme.”

Governments and development institutions, including IFAD, the World Bank, FAO, and others together with other partners have made great strides in promoting climate-smart approaches that meet the needs of farmers and poor rural people. There is also a call for climate finance to benefit smallholders and the rural poor – where poverty is concentrated – through both adaptation and mitigation financing. It is hoped that the Green Climate Fund, in this sense, will prioritize financing for approaches that reward “multiple benefit outcomes” (aka “co-benefits” in negotiation language): poverty reduction, food security, climate resilience and emissions reductions through climate-smart agriculture.

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD, The U.N.’s rural poverty agency, delivered a keynote address at ARDD urging negotiators to recognize that “Government officials once believed that they had to choose between feeding their people and protecting nature. Now they realize that they can and must do both.” He continued, “negotiators need to recognize the critical importance of enabling smallholder farmers to become more resilient to climate change and to grow more food in environmentally sustainable, climate-smart ways,” he added.

The world’s 500 million smallholder farms will have to significantly increase their production and will have to do it in the face of more frequent extreme weather events and shifting weather conditions brought by climate change. The development community must continue its efforts to come together with governments to make climate smart practices the new normal in agriculture

“Out in their fields, farmers are already adapting to the changing climate and realizing that they must respect and preserve the environment if they are to feed their families and produce a surplus for markets,” Nwanze said. “And policymakers at the country level are citing the impact of extreme weather on their crop production and asking for climate change to be addressed in rural development projects.”

Simple maths draws the connection between climate change poverty reduction and agriculture into stark relief. 1.4 billion people live today in extreme poverty, under US$1.25 per day. One billion of them live in rural areas, and the majority of those depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. IFAD’s experience with climate smart agriculture in 40 countries, through 22 loans and 15 country-specific and regional grants is just one testament to this.

Climate-Smart Smallholder Products: a new product label ?

Posted by Jeffrey A Brez Tuesday, December 6, 2011 0 comments


by Jeff Brez, from COP 17 in Durban

At Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) at COP 17 in Durban, IFAD teamed up with Cafédirect and Fairtrade Africa to offer a learning event on “Getting Climate-Smart Smallholder Products to Market.” The case study was based on an IFAD public private partnership in São Tomé and Principe with the Government, communities, Cafédirect and other private sector companies. Read about the project, the objectives of the event, the moderator and speakers here.

The two main questions posed by moderator extraordinaire Matthew Wyatt of DFID, were simple. Can smallholders offer climate-smart products? Will consumers pay for them? He led a lively and focused discussion - thanks Matthew!



Cafédirect’s Wolfgang Weinmann said, “Access for smallholder farmers to added-value markets like climate-smart and ethical products clearly is the way forward. Plus, of course delivering high quality and absolute traceability. Our partnership with IFAD has been fantastic and allowed us to ensure, in a relatively short time span of 2 years, a great product for the UK market that delivers tangible economic, social and environmental impact for the São Tomé and Principe smallholder cocoa farmers.”
There was consensus that there is potential for smallholders to benefit from a “climate-smart” label , because:

  1. Smallholders are natural providers of climate-smart products
  2. Niche market opportunities such as organics and Fairtrade are bringing premiums to smallholders in São Tomé and Principe, where cocoa exports have increased ten-fold since 2004 through public-private partnerships
  3. While climate smart smallholder agriculture is an undefined concept for consumers, they may be willing to pay more for a “climate smart” product if they better understand the full benefits to farmers , the environment and to them as well
Scaling up of a “climate smart concept ” would depend on:

  1. Providing smallholders with knowledge sharing, technical support, and access to finance and markets
  2. Developing metrics to demonstrate to consumers the benefits that accrue to farmers and to environment
  3. Development and positioning of a “climate smart” label under either an existing product label or on its own

Nokutula Mhene of Fairtrade Africa was cautiously optimistic, “The role of consumers in influencing agricultural practices and policies is often overlooked. The growth of Fairtrade over the past decades is largely attributed to consumer support. Climate smart goods should have a place in the market but need to be integrated into already existing labelling initiatives.”
Carlos Seré, of IFAD said, “In addition to generating new technologies, increasing productivity and looking for ways to save labour to support climate-smart smallholder agriculture, climate-smart practices can be enabled by replacing inputs with knowledge – understanding the biology better and tweaking it. This implies a very robust research agenda and an equally ambitious knowledge sharing component. Shifting from existing systems to climate-smart systems – for example shifting to shade grown systems - can take years to achieve. Smallholders need support during the transition periods. And of course, we can never forget about the incentives for the producers: they have to be there.”

Learn more about how IFAD supported activities are benefiting smallholders and poor rural people in São Tomé and Principe.

IFAD scales innovations through the ‘Learning Routes’

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, December 5, 2011 0 comments

by Valentina Gullotta Sauve 

On 27 October, IFAD held an informal lunch‐time seminar on the “Learning Routes” as a knowledge management and capacity building tool to scale up best practices and innovations during the “Scaling Up the Fight against Rural Poverty” Event.

Ariel Halpern (PROCASUR) and Roberto Haudry (IFAD) ‐ with the intervention of  Paineto Baluku from Uganda (Bukonzo Cooperative, partner of PROCASUR)‐ presented PROCASUR and the learning routes methodology showing how knowledge sharing can open learning and innovation scale up spaces.

PROCASUR started as a Latin America and Caribbean regional training programme for IFAD and it is now, fifteen years later working at a global scale, implementing Learning Route Programmes for Latin America, East and Southern Africa and Asia and Pacific divisions of IFAD.

PROCASUR’s objective is to feed learning loops by making visible the voices of the ones that are invisible.

‘Already being in this room is an achievement for PROCASUR’, Ariel said, because it is an opportunity to make visible an approach and a movement to which many partners are involved and engaged. The LR is a methodology but also a way to promote rural development knowledge market with a positive inclusion of project staff and grass root organizations learning and local champions: this methodology is allowing IFAD projects approaches and tools to stay after closed, being recreated, adapted and expanded.

Helen Gillman from IFAD intervened underlining the fact that the Learning Routes are not just field trips or study tour, but a systematized journey with an intensive learning process, considering carefully the design, implementation and follow up phase.

Replying to Johannes Linn’s final question on how PROCASUR see itself in 5 years from now, it was explained that PROCASUR wants to keep the strategic partnership with IFAD on its expansion process and complement each other role.

Next 5 years vision is to reach out an increasing number of rural people in the Global South offering and demanding knowledge and skills generated by practicing rural poverty in the front line. Establishing this network, or hub as Ariel calls it, bring to a successful adaptation and adoption of the Learning Route methodology to the regional settings where IFAD is operating.
Check this cartoon to understand what a is Learning Route is and visit PROCASUR site in Spanish and English


by Jeff Brez, from COP 17 in Durban

At the IFAD-FAO-WFP Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) side event here in Durban, Foua Toloa, the Head of the Government of Tokelau, a small island country in the South Pacific, made an impassioned plea for climate justice for his country. To achieve climate smart agriculture he called for the revival and integration of traditional practices in addition to financing for research, and adaptation and mitigation actions. “We don’t want to end up a coral shelf under the surface of the sea,” he said. Tokelau has taken the drastic measure of banning the import of pesticides and fertilizer for their coconut production, he told us, because cyclones brought run off and poorly stored chemicals into their lagoons, causing green algae blooms that damaged their crucial fisheries-based livelihoods. For them, a single-benefit approach for agriculture did not work. They need an integrated solution.

Tekalign Mamo, Minister of State, Advisor to Ministry of Agriculture, for Ethiopia, shared that while there is an understanding that agro-ecological approaches are key to building climate resilience, and farmers see the advantages, there are nonetheless challenges for farmers. The farmers face enormous challenges to leaving organic material on the soil to feed and protect it because they use the organic material for fuel, fodder and other uses.

The Government is supporting the use of a range of organic materials including grasses and livestock-noxious weeds to feed the soil and provide organic matter for composting. But farmers, communities and households all have specific needs and lifestyles, so they need to be the ones to define what is climate smart agriculture in their context. They, too, need integrated solutions.


For a long time now, there has been universal acknowledgement that uncertainty of climate impacts must not slow our response and action. What we heard at the side event, from speakers and attendees alike, is that complexity must also not slow our response and action. To unlock the correct responses in complex circumstances, the solution is knowledge sharing, institutional support, and gender-focused extension services that interact with empowered farmers organizations.

Elwyn Grainger-Jones, IFAD’s Director of Environment and Climate, said CSA is more knowledge intensive than the 30-year old green revolution approach. Now there is a wide range of possible approaches that are knowledge intensive and require more social mobilization. We need more of this without imposing generic solutions, and must look across landscapes for solutions that work for farmers rather than only look at specific sector projects.

A REDD+ programme in Ethiopia, Minister Mamo offered, is financing an approach that links food security, food production and poverty reduction through a 2005 national strategy. The combination of: rehabilitation of 9 million hectares of land to increase productivity; and a productive safety net programme that addresses food insecure areas for 7 million + people through food or cash transfer to families has put more kids in school, and led to better health. This, Minister Mamo stressed, is a testament to the need for cross-sectoral approaches based in national level planning.

Peter Holmgren, Director of FAO’s Climate, Energy and Tenure Division pointed out that, “It is only the farmer that can define what is smart in the end.” He also mentioned how REDD+ should be part of a package built into landscape approaches to agriculture. Only then can we get leverage and finance for agriculture.

Carlo Scaramella, Director of Climate change and Disaster Risk Reduction at WFP, reminded attendees that CSA needs to deliver multiple benefits to vulnerable communities - in terms of food and nutrition security, community and women's empowerment, livelihoods resilience and environmental rehabilitation. It must be driven by a people-centred approach. At the same time, government leadership is key for scaling up from the community to the national level.

Dennis Garrity of ICRAF (World Agroforestry Center) had the last word, reminding us all that there are huge opportunities for scaling up climate-smart agriculture through knowledge intensive but low cash investments. Here is what he said, more or less: “We need radically different scaling up methodologies for different solutions: cash intensive irrigation solutions where financial and technical inputs are key. But there are also solutions in agro-ecological approaches that are nearly cash-zero in terms of outside needs, so scaling up can be done with community mobilization and farmer to farmer knowledge sharing to get tremendous results. In Niger 5 million hectares have been transformed through agro-ecological approaches, in Mali 500 thousand hectares… gov’t investment almost zero but still great outcomes for farmers and communities.”The event took place on Friday, 2 December, organized by the United Nations Rome-Based Agencies, IFAD, FAO and WFP, and was ably moderated by Dyborn Chibonga, CEO of the National Association of Smallholder Farmers in Malawi.


By Thomas Rath, Country Programme Manager, Asia and the Pacific Division 

Rural poverty has declined throughout Asia and the overall economic performance has increased. Agricultural development has played a major role in these improvements with smallholder farmers in the lead. Around the world they already feed almost a third of the world’s population and produce 80 per ent of the food consumed in the developing world. But we need to take smallholder agriculture to the next level to make sure rural communities can play an important role in producing enough food for a growing population.

A good opportunity for Asian smallholders to boost their productivity and increase their incomes coincides with an important change in the Asian food retailing market. Supermarkets with global links have emerged, particularly in South East Asia, responding to changes in life styles, the liberalization of retail trade and the entry of foreign direct investment in Asia-Pacific countries. By 2015, supermarkets in China are expected to reach 62 per cent market share, while Malaysia is expected to reach 61 per cent, Thailand 48 per cent, and the Philippines 36 per cent.

Supermarket chains can offer farmers better deals – higher prices and greater certainty of selling the product than traditional supply chains. But in return farmers are obliged to meet stringent quality requirements and adhere to food safety standards. Also supermarkets usually prefer dealing with few large farmers rather than many small farmers.

Producers’ associations or cooperatives can help small producers gain a footing in international food retailing. Belonging to an organized group allows them to bulk produce, reduce costs through economies of scale and, perhaps most importantly, to strengthen their bargaining power with private-sector actors. Membership can also bring access to financial, processing and business service. All of which are key to empowering farmers to deal with the private sector on a more level playing field.

One of the most well-known producer organizations in Asia is the Indian dairy cooperative. It comprises 12 million members, including landless labourers and women, and produces 22 per cent of India’s milk supply. In China, a group of small scale growers, aided by the local government, formed the Ruoheng watermelon cooperative, which then sold directly to wholesalers, retailers and supermarkets. Due to its timely delivery, quality, and marketing success, the cooperative’s membership increased from 29 to 152, and its farmed area increased from 0.2 hectare in 1992 to thousands of hectares in 2005.

The ability of smallholder farmers to increase their production in a sustainable way is enormously important. Not only to further reducing rural poverty in Asia, but also to feeding the world’s growing population and resolving pressing environmental and climate challenges. Enabling smallholder farmers to benefit from the proliferation of supermarkets and export opportunities in the region can set the stage for new progress in overcoming rural poverty and hunger in Asia. Our focus should be on helping them develop the knowledge and the other tools they will need to do precisely that.

Originally posted on Business fights poverty blog

Agriculture in Rwanda: Ownership and Improving Delivery #hlf4

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, November 28, 2011 1 comments



By Agnes Matilda Kalibata, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources of Rwanda


As the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan, South Korea, commences, Rwanda has a chance to convey its way of doing business in a ever–changing aid architecture. The meeting centers on the Paris Declaration, a tool for donors and developing countries to hold each other to account. In Busan, a large and increasingly mixed community of development stakeholders will look back while seeking to outline the future of aid. Rwanda’s experiences are particularly valid for discussion in Busan. Rwanda’s story of aid effectiveness is one of strong leadership and meeting the challenges faced in managing developmental assistance. 

From the President’s lead, vision and ownership has allowed Rwanda to stay focused.  In the agriculture sector, over the past four years Rwanda has received strong support both from aid multilaterals and bilaterals with different modalities, to emerging countries such as India and Brazil, that have begun to provide public and importantly private sector investment in the country, to new cross-cutting funds such as Climate Change funding. Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) has sought to improve the efficiency of government structures to deal with various development interventions. Primarily, the sector strategy, the Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture II (PSTA II), allows us to streamline and harmonize assistance through our programs that focus on, among others, irrigation, crop intensification through input provision, post-harvest handling and storage improvements and export promotion. This year, due to this clarity, time-bound respect for results and strong programming, numerous bilaterals, such as DFID and USAID, are seeking to provide budget support to the agriculture sector. 


The last four years have been characterized by turning these investments and support into food security and poverty reduction for Rwandans. Rwanda has moved from a food insecure country with 20 out of the 30 district labeled food insecure by FAO standards to a food secure nation with no single district below the required food needs.  In August 2007, Rwanda initiated the Crop Intensification Program to increase both the levels of production and productivity amidst the various challenges that Rwanda faces.  Key pillars of this effort include, land consolidation, input access, reduction of post harvest losses and access to markets.  The program ensures that every farmer, however small, has access to improved seeds, fertilizers, extension and a market opportunity.  From a country that was in the past characterized by chronic food insecurity, Rwanda’s yields have quadrupled compared to what it was four years ago.  

In many ways Rwanda is a microcosm of the global future of agriculture – a world in which countries have to maintain food production in the face of decreasing arable lands, rising fuel prices, increasing populations and an increasingly volatile climate. For Rwanda, in particular, these challenges will not go away. Therefore, to stand the best chance in developing the country and reducing poverty, how we do the business of development is paramount. The meeting in Busan is a chance to improve this business. From a zero tolerance to corruption to upholding Paris Declaration principles, Rwanda has much to contribute to the Busan meeting. 


Also published in TerraViva

“Happiest man in Africa…….and change is possible….”.

Posted by Roxanna Samii Tuesday, November 22, 2011 0 comments



By Willem Bettink

I participated in the annual regional  implementation workshop of the East and Southern Africa  region. A full week immersion in Africa, to be more precise in northern Tanzania,  at the foot of mount Kilamanjaro. It was an  exciting and dynamic 4 days, not in the least thanks to “veteran” Edward Chumamoto. He facilitated -189 people- with grand style, a sense of humour and enormous skill –a true pleasure!

The project coordinators in the region decided last year to radically change the format as they felt there was not enough interaction and added value generated.  The workshop embraced the  open space methodology which generated many unexpected sessions about a variety topics from learning routes, communication and social media, gender equality and many more.

The theme of this workshop was: Managing for Impact-one of those development  concepts that appear clear at face value, but are not . As a participants said : “over these 4 days we have unpacked the concept and it has become clearer for me what it means to me in my work in our project”. 

Over the days we unpacked the managing for impact into its key elements from the perspective of a project team . One of the  results was a practical diagnostic tool referred to as the learning wheel for managing for impact. It brings together  12 elements that enable a project team to diagnose its performance.

The outcome of this diagnosis enables a team to discuss and agree on corrective actions to improve its delivery to achieve impact. One of these elements is “ continuous experimentation with new ideas and approaches as a source of innovation and performance improvement”.   

Almost all- if not all- development programmes are change management programmes. Research and our own experience  has proven  that a typical organizational change programme has a 20-30% success rate . Or if we  look at innovation and start –up businesses: only 10-15% make it through year  1 and go on to achieve sustainable profits.

If we truly believe in “managing for impact",  it implies that project teams, given the change and innovativeness of development programmes,  continuously need to perform at the top of their toes. Delivery has to be of an exceptional quality while it is conditioned by known obstacles , unplanned interferences, unexpected natural disasters and what have you.

This implies that a project team  needs to have  a strong predisposition to openly reflect upon its challenges and mistakes , harvest the learning (in particular from failed attempts ) and share  this learning with its stakeholders.

In my opinion , managing for impact is closely linked to return on investment. If we do not focus persistently on achieving impact, creating value,  we are not ensuring the pay-off to the rural poor for what they invest to engage with the changes and innovations promoted by development programmes.

A final personal note: that change is possible whether at  personal, process, technological level  I am strongly convinced off. While I was in Arusha  I witnessed the transformation of a colleague to be the happiest man in Africa.  

Managing for impact: learning from successes and failures

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, November 17, 2011 0 comments


The East and Southern Africa (ESA) annual workshop focusing on managing for impact kicked off on 14 November in Arusha, Tanzania. The event brings together 200 participants from 17 countries. 

This is a special event on many fronts. To start with, the participants warmly welcomed colleagues from South Sudan. Secondly, they bid farewell to Ides de Willebois, who is moving on to lead the West and Central Africa division.  And last but not least, this is a unique event because for the first time, participants have embraced moving away their from traditional way of doing workshops and have embraced knowledge sharing methods.

Ides de Willebois in his opening remarks reiterated the fact this is a learning and sharing event. “Without learning and sharing we cannot improve and we cannot have impact”. He also went on to say that “we need to have a better understanding of what we do, so that we can do it better.”
In concluding his remarks, de Willebois mentioned that he is planning to start an exchange visit between East and Southern Africa and West and Central Africa. “I hope that West and Central Africa colleagues will join next year’s annual event, so that they can learn from your experience”. 

Breaking the mould
Whenever you decide to innovate or break away from business as usual, there is some apprehension. You feel gratified when breaking the mould ends up being successful and resonates with the expectations. And this is exactly what happened at the ESA event.

It was so refreshing to see 200+ participants embrace knowledge sharing methods such as openspace, spectogramme and world cafe type discussions. Thanks to these participatory methods, they started to mingle, bond and in no time they got to know each other.  

In the process, they heard many stories, including one about how ESA implementation workshops evolved from a being top-down loan administration events to more learning events owned and organized by the projects.

The majestic mount Kilimanjaro and the Kalali women dairy cooperative
As a child, when school was  over, I would be counting the days so that I could join my grandmother in Mount Damavand. Damavand is Persia’s tallest mountain in the Alborz mountain range. Grandma had these wonderful stories about mount Everest, the far way mount Fuji and then a majestic mountain in Africa - mount Kilimanjaro. 

I was intrigued by mount Kilimanjaro, because as a I child I found it difficult to fathom that Africa had mountains. So, on Monday when we had to sign-up for the field trips, I could not believe that finally I would be able to see this far far away mountain.

Unfortunately the majestic mount Kilimanjaro decided to remain pretty veiled and the clouds did not cooperate. But nonetheless, seeing it was an emotional moment and brought back many fond childhood memories.

We then moved on to visit the Kalali women dairy cooperative. This cooperative is part of the Agricultural Sector Development Programme where IFAD is investing loan funds in supplementing financing to the nationwide development programme, to counteract the depletion of the initial funds committed by development partners as part of a basket fund arrangement.

The cooperative is located in Machame division, Hai district in Kilimanjaro region. Inspired by a local daily community business, this cooperative was established with 132 members in 1988. The cooperative’s goal is to:
  • increase income of poor rural households, particularly women in the area through a number of different income generating activities
  • improve lives of orphans and provide assistance to poor families who were unable to provide education and sound nutrition for their children
“To get going the cooperative members contributed 1000 shillings each and payed a membership fee of 50 shillings,” explained Nancy Manasseh Kidin, the cooperative’s chairperson.

Considering their scarce income, these monies were paid in 4 installments. The cooperative started with 8 dairy cows. In 1995 they had 41 dairy cows.

Considering the vital role women play in rural societies, the cooperative decided that women headed-households were the ones to receive the cows.  They agreed that the person who receives the cow for a period of seven months would:
  • give one litre of milk a day to the orphanage
  • give the calves to other women headed-household and members of the cooperative 
As a result in a short time, 24 women who had signed up to this deal managed to provide dairy cows to 117 cooperative members.

Today the cooperative has a total of 260 members.

Diversifying activities
These industrious women used their income to diversify their business. In the 90s they bought themselves a milling machine.

“We provided milling service in the local market and expanded our business by buying a container to store the maize”, said Kidin.

“We also used the profits from the milling business to buy seeds.”

In 1993, they went one step further and bought themselves an electric machine and donated their diesel operated milling machine to another women group.

With the profit from their milling business they bought feed for the cows.

A terrible blow
They had a flourishing business, produced milk in abundance and sold this to a company in Arusha, thinking that a company is a reliable partner.

“We failed to ask for the money upfront and the company failed to pay us 12,000,000 schillings”, said Kidin.

This was a terrible blow for them. The community lost confidence in cooperatives and felt let down.
This mishap taught the cooperative an important lesson: never accept an “IOU”, always finish a transaction, sell, get your money and go on.

Despite this set back, they managed to back on their feet, thanks to the generous contribution of Italians.

A new door opens: dairy processing 
The Italians provided them processing instruments and that is how they started making butter and cheese.

Today they produce:
  • 400-800 litres of milk a day
  • 10-20kg of cheese per day
  • 50-95 packs of butter per week
  • 400-600 packs of yogurt per week
They keep track of their daily production and make some impressive graphs without using Excel. They also have a sophisticated booking keeping practice.

They package their products and have a registered trademark. “We sell the dairy products at Moshi, to grocery stores, to hotels and send our cheese and butter all the way to Zanzibar”, explains a proud Kidin.

The cooperative has the necessary certification to package its product, however, they are faced with the challenge of not having adequate technical support. This means they are unable to take their business to the next step and benefit from industry’s best practice.

One thing that we observed was the BEST BEFORE DATE on their products. Without exception their products seem to have a shelf life of one year!!!!

Kidin shared with us that the cooperative aspires to be able to:
  • procure large 50 litre metal containers to store the milk instead of using plastic containers
  • avail themselves of technical expertise and training so that their products are of high quality meet regional standards, have bar codes and can compete with Kenyan products
  • have access to veterinary service
  • have access to East African Community Market and get packaging machinery 
  • have all the women of the community become members of the cooperative
  • become a renown cooperative both inside and outside Tanzania
In conducting their business, the cooperative has learnt the importance of:
  • providing thorough and in depth training to the machine operators, so that they do not only know how to operate the machine, but also maintain it properly
  • understanding the market demand and their potential competitors
  • doing a good market search before buying equipment and better understanding what is needed and how a piece of equipment can help them 
Expanding the business and facing new challenges
With a relatively good income from their dairy business, the cooperative bought a sunflower oil pressing machine and started a savings credit cooperative (SACCOS).

The SACCOS has 375 members and started with a capital of 3.2million schillings.

The older women of the community put their savings in the SACCOS and the more business oriented women use the SACCOS to get a loan. The loans have an interest rate of 3%.

Kidin shares with us that the SACCOS are faced with two challenges:
  • underpayment
  • corruption
This has led to a loss of 22 million schillings.  This loss made the community understand the importance of choosing right people as SACCOS board members. They now know that a board member:
  • needs to be a trusted member of the community
  • one who understands the ins and outs of the business and entire process
  • one who has knowledge of financial management so that they can play a supervisory role, detect collusion and immediately take corrective actions
Investing in health and eduction of young people
The community is committed to provide education for the children and young people - especially to orphaned children and those from less advantaged families.

They use their profits to send children from disadvantaged families to school and are also assisted by Italians who are sponsoring a number of children and putting them through school.

Their vision is that every child has to go to school.
Their sustained programme of investing in education of their children is one of their great successes. Thanks to this initiative many young people have successfully finished school, obtained their degree and now serve as accountants, agriculture specialists, engineers and health workers.

Many have heard of WFP’s school feeding programme. Well, the Kalali women dairy cooperative runs a similar programme - they support school feeding by providing one glass of milk per class. 

The cooperative challenges
Kidin shared with us the cooperative challenges: 
  • continuous power cuts which lasts days
  • lack of access to adequate and state of the art machinery for packaging and conservation so that they are able to compete in the  market
  • lack of access to technical expertise to take the business to its next level
  • lack of local talents and expertise
  • lack of access to appropriate equipment for conservation
  • high taxation and cumbersome regulations
  • competition with Kenyan products
The cooperatives aspirations
Kidin and the cooperative members aspire to:
  • have all women in the area become members of the cooperative
  • give dividends to all the members and not just provide contributions in kind
  • create more employment opportunities
  • send all children to school
  • expand the sunflower pressing business
  • innovate and continuously provide new services to the community
  • provide capacity building
  • build technical and leadership skills and groom local talents
  • set up a milk bar so that community members understand that there are other options to drinking alcohol
  • do more follow-ups and have a better feel what you can realistically achieve 
  • develop robust business plans
We cannot but wish this group of hardworking and resilient women the best of luck. They are a great example of how when a community takes development in their hands, despite set back, they are able to move on and bring about change. I am sure the Kalali women dairy cooperative will go from success to success and manage to fulfill all their aspirations and be a model for many more women.