December 7, 2010 – MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – IFDC is helping implement a new project that will reach about three million smallholder farmers in eight countries within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The countries are Burundi, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe; the program will impact 10 to 15 percent of smallholder farmers in each country. COMESA’s Regional Agricultural Inputs Program (COMRAP) is responding to rising food prices by increasing agricultural productivity through improved access to finance, fertilizer and seeds.
More than 60 percent of the population in eastern and southern Africa is undernourished. Moreover, the prices of staple foods doubled during 2007-08, threatening food security for over 250 million people in the region (and over one billion worldwide). COMESA, a regional economic community that encompasses 19 African states, is alleviating poverty by promoting regional agricultural integration and removing trade and investment barriers.
COMRAP is a two-year project (2010-2012) implemented by the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), a specialized agency of COMESA, and funded by the European Union Food Facility Program.
As a facilitating partner in the project, IFDC is implementing the agro-dealer development component of COMRAP in association with the Agricultural Market Development Trust (AGMARK). Agro-dealers play a crucial role in the delivery of inputs to farmers and are critical to the success of the project.
IFDC, in collaboration with farmer organizations, is conducting baseline surveys on agro-input distribution, fertilizer and seed use and the identification of appropriate agro-dealers. In addition, IFDC is providing assistance by conducting training needs assessments, developing curricula and holding courses for selected agro-dealers. After completing six months of training, trainees receive agro-dealer certification. Follow-up courses are then held on agricultural extension and marketing.
Networks of nearly 5,800 agro-dealers in the eight countries will be trained and certified. Such networks will facilitate agro-dealers’ access to financial services, strengthen their ability to deliver more inputs in a timely manner and improve the quality of technical advice to farmers. This will stimulate smallholder farmers’ demand for improved agro-inputs and facilitate the marketing of their surplus production.
IFDC is a public international organization, governed by an international board of directors with representation from developed and developing countries. The nonprofit Center is supported by various bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, private foundations and national governments.
IFDC focuses on increasing and sustaining food security and agricultural productivity in developing countries through the development and transfer of effective and environmentally sound crop nutrient technology and agribusiness expertise.
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