Resilience: Looking Back to Move Forward
This post is co-authored by Danielle Niedermaier, Senior Manager, Global Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning, Mark Mitchell, Director of Livestock/Dairy Development and Alan Isaac, Progam Director.
At Land O'Lakes Venture37, we are all about learning: we make decisions based on evidence and we regularly learn and adapt. That is why we are so excited to celebrate with Agrilinks on their 10-year anniversary — it is one of our organization’s favorite platforms for learning and sharing with our peers. Here, we look back over the past decade and share three unexpected learnings we have made around resilience, and we look ahead to the next decade to share how those learnings are influencing our priorities and programming
Women’s empowerment in agriculture is essential
- Learning: USAID estimates that if the same number of women as men participated in the global economy, global GDP would grow by $12 trillion by 2025. The Food and Agriculture Organization reported in 2011 in the State of Food and Agriculture on Women and Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development that one of the key reasons agriculture is underperforming in many developing economies is that women do not have equal access to the resources and opportunities they need to be more productive. The report argues that closing this resource gap will increase agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5%-4% and reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 12%-17%. Intentionally engaging women in agricultural programming is key to closing this resource gap, achieving advancements in women’s empowerment, and unlocking tremendous GPD growth.
- Looking Ahead: By focusing on creation of and support to livestock forage enterprises that are started and run by women, we are aiming to increase opportunity and resource access for women. For example, the Nourishing Prosperity Alliance will support female producers to increase the supply of nutritious dairy products available to dairy producers and guide female smallholder farmers in methods that bolster nutrient-rich, cost-effective forage production. The project will use the Gendered Feed Assessment Tool (G-FEAST) to ensure interventions fit into the household economy. These activities will provide reliable feed for dairy cattle, improve milk production, reduce the production costs of those dairy products and improve the resilience of these female farmers and their families to external shocks linked to climate change and COVID-19 pandemic-induced challenges. Targeting women for this opportunity will allow them to participate in a market where there is anticipated increase in demand resulting from growing dairy consumption.
Private sector investments improve food safety and nutrition
- Learning: Cold storage is essential for food safety, particularly for animal sourced foods (ASF) such as dairy products. In Mozambique, investments in cold storage and quality testing through the USDA-funded MERCADO project in conjunction with private sector entities, such as DanMoz, enabled the private sector to improve access to and availability of locally produced, safe ASF. DanMoz made all the investment themselves because they saw the benefit, and set up payment based on quality and safety. Cold storage was a key link in the value chain, as better storage enabled suppliers to get more and safer ASF to retail outlets. It both increased the amount available and drove down cost for consumers. For example, parents gained access to dairy products (mainly yogurt) for their children through retail vertical display fridges and mobile vending trolleys. Preadolescents gained access through single-sized, affordable yogurt that was accessible through a variety of means, including vertical fridges in school canteens, mobile vendors and local kiosks.
- Looking Ahead: Venture37 is leveraging these learnings from Mozambique for our work in the Republic of Georgia through the USDA-funded Safety and Quality Investment in Livestock (SQIL) program. SQIL is prioritizing coinvestment and access to finance to increase the quantity of cold storage in the dairy and beef industries in Georgia. As of March 2021, project-supported businesses, particularly cheese processing businesses, have increased their investment in cold storage, resulting in 5,775 cubic meters of increased storage capacity among those businesses valued at over $450,000.
Intercropping improves resilience for smallholder farmers
- Learning: Rain-fed monocropping is highly susceptible to climate shocks and stresses, as well as being susceptible to damage by pests during the production season and price shocks during harvest. In addition, it often reduces the household’s dietary diversity. Intercropping is an alternative to monocropping. However, the ability to intercrop is sometimes limited by the availability of seed and planting materials
- Looking Ahead: To assist farmers in Mozambique with starting or expanding intercropping, the USAID-funded Resilient Agricultural Markets Activity-Beira Corridor (RAMA-BC), in partnership with seed companies, is marketing seed packs to smallholder farmers. Diverse cropping covers the soil and improves soil fertility. This diversity also is good for nutrition and climate resiliency. With the ability to buy a mix of appropriate seeds in one package, farmers have been able to speed up the adoption of intercropping. Further, the seeds are planted simultaneously. Additionally, RAMA-BC is introducing drought tolerant forage legumes that can also be intercropped to create drought tolerant sources of livestock fodder. Intercropping is also an effective integrated pest management (IPM) technique that reduces pest pressure by repelling pests and encouraging the presence of the natural enemies of pests. Intercropping maize with legumes also suppresses the parasitic striga weed, otherwise very difficult to control.
We are excited about what we have learned over the past 10 years and how we are adapting and building from those learnings for the next decade and beyond. We look forward to continuing to use Agrilinks as a resource to learn and share as we go!