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CIDR’s 2010-2014 Strategic priorities

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Agricultural Enterprises, Value Chains and Markets 

Strategic positioning

Recurrent price volatility of agricultural raw materials and food crops cause considerable economic and social instability in rural and urban areas. Faced with these risks, policy makers are often divided over whether to develop highly speculative agriculture or highly subsidized agriculture, to the detriment of a more entrepreneurial approach to and the modernization of family farming.

The economic role of an African agricultural sector based on family farms must be maintained. It is therefore necessary to develop economic strategies that promote “commercial” family farming by linking them to agri-food chains and urban markets. This economic challenge has important social implications in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the rural population is expected to grow over the next twenty years. The pace of economic development is simply not enough to absorb an accelerated rural exodus.

By 2014, the Agricultural Enterprises, Value Chains and Markets Department aims to leverage results from the previous Strategic Plan and its now well-established partner network (national platforms) to significantly increase outreach and implement new forms of cooperation between value chain stakeholders and their institutional environment.

The Department will ensure national platforms have access to the technical, financial and human resources needed to help them boost the number of production, processing and commercialization units in the countries where they operate. It will build platforms’ capacities so that they may provide services renowned for their quality, regardless of the context. It will encourage platforms to take into account institutional dynamics and participate more actively in sectoral policy discussions.

The Department will promote agricultural value chains in new programs, in new countries and in partnership with various stakeholders from the private sector (agribusinesses, banks and microfinance institutions), public sector (regional or national support programs, chambers of agriculture, etc.), civil society (professional trade unions, NGOs), local governments.

The Department will launch operations in four new countries (Côte d’Ivoire in 2010, Ghana in 2011 and two other countries by 2014). A regional program will oversee operations in Benin, Burkina, Mali and Togo. It will have developed a communication strategy to disseminate program results and impacts, and will have set up partnership networks in the new countries.

Strategic priorities

a. Foster growth and outreach of national agricultural business development services platforms in West Africa

The expected growth of the platforms’ activities in Benin, Burkina, Mali and Togo may have consequences on the quality of services and respect of ethical principles. Growth will require efficient management of financial and human resources and must be paired with efforts to build communication skills.

Platforms will need to develop a quality approach that will meet the expectations and needs of their technical and financial partners. This priority will be addressed in stages: standardization of approaches to BDS, improved practices, evaluation and improvement of teams’ performances. The national platforms will be called upon to jointly design tools accessible to all. Knowledge sharing will be encouraged.

By 2010, platforms should be drawing on local financial resources to create and develop new enterprises. The Department will have set up financial mechanisms to help them do so (capital development funds, bank loans, linkages with microfinance institutions).

To ensure the visibility of supported businesses, to guarantee temporary tax incentives, to ensure good governance and environmental responsibility, the platforms will define, with the Department’s assistance, a Social and Environmental Responsibility Compact. In signing the compact, enterprises will commit to economic viability while respecting the interests of all stakeholders involved, good governance, respect of environmental standards, and appropriation of sustainable development principles.

Finally, the Department will seek out strategic partnerships with research institutions, to monitor and anticipate developments in the agricultural sector prompted by inevitable environmental changes, technological innovation (especially in processing) and political shifts (such as the growing importance of local authorities.

b. Support territorial strategies for agricultural and rural development

The Department will draw on its experience with economic initiatives and agribusinesses to contribute to rural renewal. In particular, it will develop a "territorial competitiveness" approach to rural development in countries such as Madagascar and Ghana.

A region is competitive if it can withstand market competition while continuing to be environmentally, economically and socially viable. Territorial competitiveness implies utilization of local resources, participation of local institutions and stakeholders (namely local governments), innovative practices, cooperation with other regions and coordination with regional and national policies.

The Department will help regional stakeholders formulate territorial-based economic projects to better leverage local economic resources and create economic linkages between agricultural value chain actors, in view of improving food security and creating jobs. This assistance will be incorporated into the long-term development strategies of the regions supported and their regional development plans. The Department will look for synergies with other stakeholders, particularly other CIDR departments.

c. Strengthen participation of national trade organizations in agricultural value chains In Benin and countries such as the Côte d’Ivoire, the Department will develop programs in partnership with trade organizations.

These actions will help build or strengthen:

- Internal institutional capacities: efficiency, technical skills for project implementation, networking with partners and external service providers, etc.
- Capacities to fulfill their mandate: efficient services to members, development of innovative economic projects, etc.

The Department will work at all levels of these organizations, as each one usually corresponds to a different link in the value chain:

- With regard to production, all activities will be implemented via community-level organizations.
- With regard to processing and marketing, activities will be implemented and coordinated by regional or national organizations.
- With regard to commercialization, products will be marketed via national organizations.
- Lastly, economic capacity building of all of these stakeholders will help enhance expected outcomes.

Improving competitiveness and productivity of value chains by intervening at the level of trade organizations will help make family farming more efficient, enterprising and lucrative. The Department’s activities will also help support small rural entrepreneurs (offering plowing, post-harvest handling or management services, for instance) who will have better chances to grow, thanks to improved solvency of producers.

d. Develop an organizational structure adapted to increasingly diversified approaches

The Department will contract a regional technical advisor based in West Africa in 2011. The advisor will assist the four national platforms in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Togo (and eventually those in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana) in capacity building, setting up a quality approach, knowledge management and knowledge sharing activities. This person will be involved in creating and promoting national capital development funds. The advisor will also accompany the Department director on technical assistance assignments in other countries and for new programs.

During 2011, the Department will design a three-year training program (2012-2014) for practitioners implementing entrepreneurial approaches in rural Africa.

To ensure its growth, the Department will adopt a more proactive fundraising approach, by targeting private companies, agricultural trade organizations, banks, and investment funds in the North and South. The Department will endeavor to identify and build long-term relationships with these organizations. It will need to enhance its professionalism with regard to negotiation techniques with investors, private companies, banking and financial institutions.

Attached documents

Publié le Wednesday 15 September 2010, by CIDR

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