This project aims to develop value-chain Innovation Platforms (IPs) to improve food security by connecting more smallholder farmers with markets.
Innovation Platforms can convene stakeholders to identify solutions to common problems or to achieve common goals. Innovation Platforms consist of a network of organisations, enterprises and individuals that bring new products, processes and forms of organisation into economic use, together with institutions and policies that affect their behavior and performance.
The project works in three contrasting sites to help farmers, especially women and youths, better link to markets through value-chain Innovation Platforms, and earn more for their produce while managing natural resources sustainably.
In Zambia, the project is working with private sector partners in the mining, retail, catering and energy sectors to establish a series of co-investment forums to give smallholder farmers producing Solwezi beans, local chicken and soya beans better access to markets. In Uganda, land care groups focused on natural resource management will help smallholder farmers in coffee, honey and dairy value chains to better access markets and develop businesses.
Good progress has been made in the first year of the project following the grant agreement approval signed on the 19th June 2015. Two Successful inception workshops were held in Uganda (Kampala) and Zambia (Lusaka) on the 13-14th and 16th July 2015 respectively. The workshops created awareness of the project, renewed commitment from the Uganda and Zambia governments and invited ownership among the stakeholders.
Progress has been made in achieving the milestones for all the five work packages. In WP1, interactions between various key informants at the site level, district and national, have identified various stakeholders who are being engaged through an iterative process to contribute towards the development of specific value chains. The scoping studies undertaken in October and November 2015 in Zambia and Uganda respectively have provided information used in drawing up a conceptual framework for institutional strengthening and social capital across scales. The findings of the scoping study informed the development of protocols and survey instruments for the household survey that was undertaken in April and May in Zambia and Uganda respectively to collect data for geo-referencing and determine the social networks among different stakeholders. Findings from the household survey have provided information on participation in collective action and determined neighbourhood effect factors that could be used to influence stronger social capital. Multi-stakeholder partnerships have developed based on selected value chains and a district platform envisaged encompassing the overall marketing of the various commodities. Collective vision maps developed during the multi-stakeholder workshops undertaken in June 2016 have highlighted the capacity needs and importance of communication and information sharing. Linkages across governance levels are crucial with deliberate effort being made to attract private sector participation in value chains development.
In WP2, literature review of the general overview of the study sites for both Uganda and Zambia was undertaken to identify potential stakeholders, candidate value chains and provided insights into the production systems and market characteristics both nationally as well as the three study sites level. Scoping studies identified and characterised potential value chains, existing value chain development strategies and market information delivery systems that could be developed through multi-stakeholder processes. Following several consultative meetings with the national partners, a ten point criteria was developed and the promising value chains subjected to further evaluation. A total of six potential value chains were selected for Zambia and Uganda. Review of literature on the six potential value chains was conducted to guide in developing tools for collecting quantitative data for competitiveness analysis, identification of best fit value chain development (VCD) strategies and market information delivery systems. In addition, the review informed the selection of potential upgrading strategies for further evaluation of technical, economic, social and institutional feasibility. Some potential strategies have been identified from the scoping study findings and will be subjected to further analysis to identify best-fit strategies for the different value chains and farmer categories. Quantitative and qualitative data collection was undertaken in April and May in Zambia and Uganda respectively. The data is undergoing comprehensive value chain analysis to identify strategies for enhancing competitiveness of the selected value chains.
In WP3, a report providing the conceptual framework for the design and implementation of the impact evaluation was developed. Peer-reviewed literature on the impact of innovation platforms on farmers’ participation in value chains and networks, technology adoption and entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa was also undertaken. A review of donor project documents, proposals, project design, evaluations over the past 10 years was also undertaken to inform WP3’s approach to impact evaluations of multi-stakeholder platforms. The documents also included new proposals, and ‘grey literature’ review of programs involving recent, ongoing and planned large household surveys, especially in Uganda, A report providing feedback on the baseline survey for the market information delivery systems component of the project and collaboration with the project team in the initial scoping studies conducted in Uganda and Zambia was provided to support WP1 and 2. WP 3 has also been involved in field work, multi-stakeholder workshops and key informant interviews in Uganda and Zambia to support impact evaluations work that will be undertaken in year 2.
In WP4, stakeholder engagement was pursued in three ways: (a) inception workshops with country partners and key government institutions; (b) value chain scoping, where various potential value chain stakeholders were consulted; and (c) value chain IP formation and initial strategic planning. As explained above, much of Year 1’s work was devoted to systematically identifying promising value chains the project will focus on. This culminated in the initial formation of nine IP platforms focusing on the selected value chains, coupled with visioning and strategic planning facilitative support. All nine groups now have visions, longer term strategies, and action plans in place.
In WP5, accomplishments included the development of a M&E Strategy, the setting up of a project performance dashboard, and holding VIP4FS’s first steering committee meeting on the 6th June 2016 to review project progress. The purpose of the former is two-fold: To support (a) the regular review and strengthening of the project’s theory of change; and (b) progress reporting against its output milestones and relevant intermediate development outcomes (IDOs) of the Australian International Food Security Research Centre (AIFRSC). VIP4FS’ M&E Strategy is strongly supported by the project performance dashboard, which tracks progress towards output milestones and key performance indicators that correspond to the various components of the project’s theory of change.
In the second year of the project, interactions between various key informants at the site, district and national levels, have identified various stakeholders who are being engaged through an iterative process to contribute towards the development of six value chains. The project has made major strides in engaging various stakeholders with deliberate effort being made to attract private sector participation in value chain development. The project has facilitated the formation of several value chain innovation platforms (VIPs) across the three sites through strong engagement with producers, farmer networks, traders, the private sector, local governments and other stakeholders. In Uganda, the project is building on long-term collaboration with Landcare groups. Through stakeholder engagement, the project has been able to establish major constraints, opportunities and issues affecting smallholder farmers along the six value chain and strategies developed for improving the value chains. In the next 2-4 years, more knowledge and skills will be strengthened across a range of stakeholders based on the gaps identified during the capacity needs assessments. In order to compare the cost-effectiveness of different innovative approaches and so provide evidence to inform future investments in developing smallholder value chains, planned comparison protocols for the six value chains are under development with three having been finalized.
On specific milestones, progress has been made in achieving the deliverables of activities for all the five work packages. In WP1, a livelihood analysis undertaken in Year 1 has characterized institutional elements in the three study areas of Manafwa, Kapchorwa and Solwezi necessary for poverty alleviation. The outcome of the livelihood analysis also provided a basis for the identification of necessary support institutions and champions of various commodities (honey, coffee, and dairy in Uganda; soya beans, Solwezi beans and local chicken in Zambia). Rural institutional capacity needs identification involved close collaboration between work package 1 and 2 with the following main activities: (i) the re-calibration of the RIDS software to conform with the local contexts (ii) focus group discussions in Uganda and Solwezi (iii) the carrying out of a general farmer groups census in the three sites based on a re-calibrated farmer group capacity needs analysis protocol used in Solwezi and Uganda), and (iv) an analysis of the rural institutional capacity needs. The rural institutional capacity needs results as well as the outputs from a spatial analysis study undertaken have provided an indication of the development strategies needed for enhancing the role of grassroots institutions in development. The strategies provide an insight into technology uptake, institutional arrangements necessary to provide for opportunities and incentives.
WP2 accomplishments revolved around value chains namely coffee, dairy and honey in Manafwa and Kapchorwa and soya beans, Solwezi beans and village chicken in Solwezi. In addition, the development of IP models for engaging the private sector in the development of the six value chains, with a view to commercialising smallholder agriculture was planned. Appropriate strategies for developing each of the value chains have been identified and outlined in the report. Steps towards building models have been taken including conducting SWOT analysis in multi-stakeholder forums in Uganda and Solwezi Zambia which provided value information for model development to identify challenges and opportunities and strategies for engaging the private sector. In the report on strategies for developing value chains and market information delivery systems, potential private sectors and their roles in the various value chains have been identified and outlined.
Key accomplishments made under WP3 included the development of planned comparison guidance document, coupled with the provision of training and hands-on support to project teams to (a) narrow in on key challenges affecting the development of the six prioritized value chains VIP4FS is targeting; (b) define promising and potentially cost-effective and ‘scalable’ interventions and intervention modifications to address these challenges; and (c) developed protocols to systematically test the (cost) effectiveness of these interventions and their modifications, as part-and-parcel of VIP4FS’ value chain development facilitation efforts. This resulted in the identification of six planned comparison concepts, three of which have been developed into full planned comparison protocols. Value network analysis identifying chain actors and type of influence in the network, and indicators of the level of smallholder farmers’ embeddedness in the value network was undertaken. The methodological design to investigate how the governance of farmers’ communities enhances or constrains the effects of multi-stakeholder platforms on farmers’ entrepreneurial practices was completed during the year.
In WP4, stakeholder engagement was pursued in three ways: (a) Several IP sessions held with various stakeholders (b) focus group discussions with various grassroots institutions to identify capacity gaps (c) Land care training in Solwezi that involved various stakeholders. In Uganda, various innovation platforms sessions were held with coffee, honey and dairy stakeholders. For coffee, IP sessions were held with the CEO of Monastery Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster from Australia in June 2017. The sessions introduced Monastery Coffee as an IP partner to the Kapchorwa and Manafwa Coffee IPs; representing more than 100 coffee groups, The IPs sessions aimed to encourage private sector participation in designing and implementing future value chain IP activities. Other actors in Uganda that have been involved in various engagements with the project include the National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI), National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Bugisu Cooperative Union (BCU), Eastern dairies, Kawacom, The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organization (TUNADO) among other actors.
In WP5, key accomplishments included the improvement of the project’s dashboard and holding of the project’s steering committee meeting. The dash board tracks progress towards output milestones and key performance indicators that correspond to the various components of the project’s theory of change. A dashboard showing the expected timelines of each activity for Year 2 was developed following a planning workshop that was held in June 2016. Each of the planned project outputs has been divided into sub-activities. A set of guiding questions has also been developed which helps to obtain information about each work package and if each sub-activity has been achieved or not. The completion of each activity is gauged against completion of the sub-activities within it and also against the time by which it should be completed. The project monitoring tool is visual and interactive.