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Planning for training

How are we doing on capacity building? A Review & Capitalization Workshop (Kenya, March 2017) helped analyze 2016 results and plan for the next season. The workshop brought together 2SCALE staff, coaches and trainers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda, and value chain specialists from the Partnerships Resource Center in Rotterdam.

Participants examined a sample of five partnerships to better understand the level of diversity within the 2SCALE portfolio. All partnerships are based on the same principles and involve the same types of actors, but differences in the commodity, the business environment, and the skill levels of local actors mean that ‘blanket’ approaches will not work. This is why every capacity building program is tailored to local needs. Participants validated ‘markers’ (earlier proposed by the Partnerships Resource Center) that will be used to monitor project-induced change in each partnership.

The workshop also helped identify the key risks and tensions in each partnership: generic risks such as side-selling and specific ones such as prices and contracts. One priority was to build in sustainability, to ensure that capacity development programs would continue even without 2SCALE support. Innovations piloted successfully last year are being expanded – notably the coaches-as-agents model, where agribusiness coaches also act as agents of the buyer. For example in Kenya, coaches in the sorghum partnership aggregate (purchase) grain from cluster members  and receive a commission from the buyer. Similarly in Mozambique, soybean and potato coaches act as agents of the buyer, distributing inputs at planting time and purchasing grain at harvest. This arrangement has worked well for farmers as well as buyers. 

The workshop identified priorities for 2017. In Kenya, we have increased our focus on seed potatoes, using a combination of community-level and commercial-scale multiplication (led by partner firm Kevian) to produce and deliver high-quality seed at affordable prices. In Ethiopia, the emphasis is on strengthening farmer unions and their constituent primary cooperatives: improving governance (better processes, more inclusiveness) and sharpening business plans, enabling the unions to aggregate, add value and resell produce from their member cooperatives. In Uganda, we’re introducing loyalty programs to persuade sorghum farmers to adhere to contracts; formalizing partnerships with two large breweries (we formerly worked only through their agents); and working with banks and insurance companies to introduce new financial products that will enable smallholder farmers to invest in new technologies.

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