The USAID Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program is a flagship Feed the Future (FtF) Initiative, USAID-funded development program in Liberia launched in September 2011. USAID FED uses an all-inclusive strategy incorporating micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME), farmers, processors, suppliers, women, and youth while partnering with the Government of Liberia (GoL) and local civil society to achieve food security.
USAID FED is increasing food availability, utilization, and accessibility in Liberia by building an indigenous incentive structure that assists agricultural stakeholders in adopting commercial approaches. This incentive structure is built upon:
- Improved technology for productivity and profitability;
- Expanded and modernized input supply and extension systems;
- Commercial production, marketing, and processing;
- Enterprise services; and
- Workforce development.
USAID FED works with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), civil society, and the private sector to provide communities with access to agricultural inputs, extension services, nutrition messages, processing services, market information, transportation, credit, agro-business education, training, and business development services.
USAID FED’s thrust to expand market linkages contributes to increases in income and job opportunities. The project is significantly boosting the production, processing, marketing, and nutritional utilization of rice, cassava, and vegetables, and is enhancing the productivity of goat farming in the counties covered by the program.
These initiatives are carried out in Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, and Margibi counties. USAID FED focuses on these counties because they are situated along regional development corridors that are crucial to promoting intra- and inter-county commerce. The focus on these growth corridors is improving food availability and access for all Liberians.
Project methodology is market-led, value chain-driven and committed to capacity building, with a specific focus on Liberia’s women and youth demographics.
USAID FED is implemented by five partners: Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), Winrock International, International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), Louisiana State University (LSU), and The Cadmus Group.
Highlights for this reporting period include the following activities:
- Internal project data quality review in process: DAI initiated an intensive, comprehensive analysis to address the completeness, accuracy and quality of USAID FED’s results data reported to USAID over the life of the project. Data management systems and the extent to which they yield reliable, valid, precise and timely data are being scrutinized. Following the analysis, DAI will produce a report outlining the findings and recommendations for adjusting the previously reported results data for 18 FtF indicators. This review is in follow-up to previous data quality assessments conducted by USAID’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) contractor. Any quantitative information reported previously by the project, as well as that which appears in this monthly report, are estimates and should be considered tentative pending the results of this review.
- USAID FED, BRAC-Liberia and MoA launch Peste de Petite de Ruminant (PPR) Vaccination Campaign: Approximately 108,000 small ruminants (sheep and goats) will be vaccinated across Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bassa counties during the course of this campaign. A launch ceremony at the MoA was held during this reporting period with Deputy Minister Hon. Sizi Subah presiding. USAID FED subcontracted BRAC to train and mobilize 300 community animal health workers to administer the vaccinations.
- Increased adoption of good agricultural practices: A recent internal USAID FED survey suggests that approximately 60 percent of USAID FED-supported farmers are applying improved growing methods including proper nursery care, use of improved seed, proper application of fertilizers, spacing, planting in rows and ridges, water management, pest control, staking of climber vegetables (e.g., tomatoes), plant maintenance and post-harvest practices.
- New cassava micro-processors identified: Four new cassava micro-processors were identified to receive assistance in Grand Bassa County this reporting period. These micro-processors are currently operating manually but will be provided with mechanized graders and presses to increase processing capacity from one MT per week to up to eight MT per week. These efforts will provide increased market opportunities for approximately 8,000 cassava growers.
- Sustainable market linkages: USAID FED facilitated a buyer-seller linkage between 40 project-supported vegetable farmers supplying Monrovia’s Royal Grand Hotel. Approximately 11,000 kgs of lettuce, cabbage, cucumber and tomatoes will be supplied to the hotel on an annual basis; resulting in a projected $45,000 annual sales volume should current prices hold. The volume represents 80 percent of the hotel’s total requirements for these vegetables. USAID FED continues to explore ways to replicate this buyer-seller relationship with several other Monrovia hotels and supermarkets.
- Transforming Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) into microenterprises: Twelve USAID FED supported VSLA groups received loans from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) this month. NAPEX, a clearinghouse for microfinance institutions (MFI) in Liberia, reported that USAID FED coordinated with the CBL to convert the 12 previously “unbankable” VSLA businesses into successful microenterprises. Each of the 12 loans totaled approximately US$2,250, reflecting a total value of just under US$30,000. Each VSLA averages 30 members, meaning the loans benefit 360 direct and indirect beneficiaries across the four value chains. Loan terms are three years at one percent interest per annum.
- VSLA training provided: USAID FED’s EDUCARE subcontractor hosted a comprehensive training on VSLA methodology for 250 new groups. The training focused on establishing group governance structures, constitutions, by-laws and member leadership for the 250 new groups. Supervisory attention was also given to the 373 existing VSLA groups via periodic monitoring.
- USAID FED realigns program implementation timeline: The approved USAID FED FY2016 workplan assumed a no-cost contract extension through mid-December 2016, with activity implementation ending in August in order provide sufficient time for close-out of such a large and complex project. However, as this no-cost extension request remains uncertain, the current contract end date of September 11, 2016 remains in force. In the absence of no-cost extension approval, USAID FED plans to cease all activity implementation by the end of May 2015 in order to ensure sufficient time for close-out activity.