FED Work Plan: Fiscal Year 2015

The USAID Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Program for Liberia is a USAID-funded development program that was 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 and local civil societies to achieve food security.

The goal of USAID FED is to increase food availability, utilization, and accessibility 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
  • Workforce development

USAID FED works with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), Ministry of Finance (MoF), civil societies and the private sector in providing communities access to agricultural inputs — including improved seed varieties — extension services, nutrition messages, processing services, market information, transportation, credit, agro-business education, training, and enterprise services.

In five years, USAID FED’s thrust to expand market linkages is expected to lead to substantial increases in income and job opportunities. USAID FED aims to significantly boost the production, processing, marketing and nutritional utilization of rice, cassava and vegetables, and to enhance the productivity of goat farming in the counties covered by the program.

These initiatives are being 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 in promoting intra and inter-county commerce. These growth corridors are expected to improve food availability and access for all Liberians.

USAID FED’s methodology is market-led and value chain-driven; it is committed to developing indigenous capacity building, with a specific focus on Liberia’s women and youth.

USAID FED is implemented by five partners: Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), Winrock International, International Fertilizer Developmental Center (IFDC), Louisiana State University (LSU), and The Cadmus Group.

Executive Summary

In FY14, USAID FED achieved major milestones and either reached or exceeded targets for 16 of the 20 program indicators. A total of 40,779 farmers applied improved technologies on more than 6,305 hectares as a result of USAID FED assistance. Full-time employment (FTEs) generated by the program increased from 90 in FY13 to 2,177 in FY14.

The commercialization of the rice value chain commenced with surplus production from USAID FED beneficiaries and the establishment of Fabrar, the first industrial rice mill in Liberia. Fabrar has started buying large volumes of grain rice from USAID FED beneficiaries, contributing to total sales of 1,183 MT of grain rice with a value of US$561,800 at the farmer’s level. Over 8,550 MT of milling capacity and 2,054 cubic meters of storage capacity were created through the program’s support in anticipation of more surpluses in FY15.

The program expanded the demonstration of Urea Deep Placement (UDP) methodology at 139 sites. The program also trained 17 rice seed inspectors to ensure rice seed production protocols are properly adhered to by seed producers at 22 rice seed multiplication sites. Enhanced irrigation structures were constructed to provide water for 50 hectares of rice lands at 12 sites. These irrigation structures are being used to demonstrate technology that can lead farmers to plant two-to-three crops per year.

In the cassava value chain, the program established 40 nurseries that will supply cuttings of improved cassava varieties to 25,000 cassava farmers for planting on approximately 6,250 hectares of cassava fields. To further augment availability and access to improved planting materials, USAID FED and institutional partner Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI), imported 40,000 cuttings of 11 new varieties from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria. Cassava farmers assisted in FY13 have so far sold 657 metric tons of cassava tubers with a value of US$90,262. Harvesting is expected to continue until December of this year.

USAID FED has engaged small cassava processors in Monrovia and facilitated meetings between processors and cassava farming clusters. The Monrovia-based processors were preparing to source tubers from FED beneficiaries when the Ebola crisis began. The processors still express strong interest in buying from FED-supported farming clusters. In total, USAID FED evaluated capacity gaps of 29 micro and small cassava processors who will be supported in FY15.

In the goat value chain, USAID FED has increased the production intensification sites from 19 in FY13 to 103 in FY14 and supported the construction of 271 goat shelters. A total of 206 Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW) were trained and provided with starter kits to enable them to provide veterinary services to local goat farmers. USAID FED started marketing activities by piloting a livestock market day with goat farmers and traders. In FY14, program beneficiaries sold more than 1,651 goats for a value of US$128,460. USAID FED supported the establishment of a livestock quarantine facility at CARI, which then quarantined 209 goats imported by the United States Department of Agriculture / Land O’Lakes (USDA/LOL) Food for Progress program.

In the horticulture value chain, USAID FED established and supported 21 clusters that produce high-value vegetables and assisted them in establishing a collection center in each cluster. These collection centers serve as platforms for demonstrating improved post-harvest handling and processing of fresh vegetables. USAID FED-assisted procurement contracts resulted in traders buying 36 MT of vegetables valued at US$41,000, contributing to vegetable sales of more than US$180,000 in FY14. A three-way collaboration between local micro-finance institution Liberia Entrepreneurial and Asset Development (LEAD), USAID FED and vegetable farmers to procure water pumps for vegetable production during the dry season was a breakthrough activity.

Under USAID FED’s Component Two, the program made significant progress in improving the Business Enabling Environment with the reinstatement of the duty waiver for importation of agricultural inputs under Executive Order No.64, and Liberia’s adoption of the seed, fertilizer and pesticides regulations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Additionally, the program initiated the formation of a multi-agency policy group named Liberia Agriculture Business Enabling Environment Interagency Policy Group (LABEE IPG).

The Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) program grew from 26 groups in FY13 to 123 groups in FY14, benefiting 3,400 farmers, mostly women. The VSLAs generated US$184,000 in savings-based loans for members. These loans facilitated sales of agricultural products worth US$120,000 and raised US$184,000 in investments in agricultural activities.

In the program’s Component Three, the National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) curriculum was finalized and approved by the Ministry of Education (MoE) for adoption in the three FED-supported community colleges and the Booker T. Washington Institute (BWI). USAID FED provided technical assistance to develop syllabi and lesson plans for the NDA’s first two semesters.

Although the FY14 accomplishments bring the program closer to its goals, there are still areas where USAID FED needs to propose modifications of contractual targets based on the challenges and realities on the ground. While USAID FED is working on finalizing the proposal to modify some targets, it continues to strive to accomplish the project’s scope of work through innovative approaches and the implementation of lessons learned in the first three years of the program.

A major lesson learned in FY14 is the need to start area and beneficiary identification two months before the start of the fiscal year to ensure timely delivery of inputs. The program’s Market Development Fund (MDF) management system requires area and beneficiary details for approval of activities and procurement requests. This system was developed based on lessons learned from FY13 and aims to avoid inventory piling up in program warehouses. USAID FED has established a standard support package of technical assistance and agricultural inputs to new farmer beneficiaries based on FY13 and FY14 experience. The combination of early engagement of new beneficiaries and the standardization of support at the farm level is expected to address delays previously experienced in delivering inputs to beneficiaries.

In FY15, the overall direction of the program is to continue supporting improvements in productivity and increases in production within the four value chains via increased outreach on the production side.

USAID FED will support an additional 39,610 beneficiaries with inputs, technology demonstrations and training. The support to beneficiaries from FY12, FY13 and FY14 will focus on business development services, creating access to improved planting materials, access to financing, improving options for markets, as well as continuing technical assistance to ensure adoption of improved technology. USAID FED’s total beneficiary outreach is expected to reach 79,000 people by the end of FY15, and improved technology will be applied on an additional 8,687 hectares with direct program support.

In FY14, USAID FED placed equal emphasis on helping market players improve their capacity to process, transport, store, and sell local produce to end-market channels at competitive prices. In FY15, the program will continue to strengthen the capacity of processors, traders and other market channels to absorb the increasing surplus production. With the production segment of the value chains now positioned to deliver more supply, the program will give more support to sustainable arrangements in aggregating farm produce, such as those through collection centers and group marketing.

USAID FED will support improved post-harvest handling and logistics service provision to ensure timely transport and delivery of produce from farm to market in order to reduce post-harvest losses. USAID FED will leverage marketing platforms such as processors, aggregators, and providers of mechanized services like power tillers to expand its reach beyond the farmers who receive direct assistance. Additionally, the program will tap youth organizations to provide logistic services to encourage youth involvement in the agriculture sector.

USAID FED will begin engaging value chain players to improve governance of the value chains focusing on product standardization, price discrimination based on quality and more transparent market information. USAID FED’s specific objectives for the different value chains are as follows:

Rice Value Chain

  • Train 11,025 upland rice farmers and 7,175 lowland rice farmers.
  • Increase productivity on 2,965 hectares of upland rice areas.
  • Expand lowland rice production on 1,908 hectares.
  • Target at least 50 percent of FY14 lowland areas with UDP adoption.
  • Assist farmers in areas where the 12 irrigation spillways were established in FY14 to harvest two crops in one year on 50 hectares of land.
  • Build 30 new irrigation spillways in FY15 on another 160 hectares of land.
  • Assist at least one private sector company in commercially producing and marketing good seeds of the improved rice varieties.
  • Assist 30 power tiller operators and help them to operate profitably.
  • Fabrar Liberia and/or another private sector stakeholder (e.g., input supplier or trader) to provide inputs through embedded services to USAID FED farmers.
  • Sales at the farm level will increase to three times that of FY14.
  • Business hubs established in FY14 supported to operate profitably.
  • Support three large Liberian landowners towards commercial production of lowland rice.
  • Construction of 6 storage facilities
  • Construction of 10 drying pads

Cassava Value Chain

  • Introduce 12,960 farmers to improved planting methods and Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) on 3,564 hectares of land.
  • Support 40 commercial nurseries to supply good quality planting materials of improved cassava varieties to 25,000 cassava farmers.
  • Propagate 11 successfully screened, imported improved cassava varieties and selected genotypes released by CARI and IITA within Liberia.
  • Support 29 micro-processors in increasing their procurement of raw tubers and improving their profitability.
  • Assist four small processing enterprises based in Monrovia in increasing their procurement of raw tuber from 3 MT to 7 MT per month, and increase their sales from US$3,300 to US$7,700 per month.

Horticulture Value Chain

  • Train 3,750 vegetable farmers in 186 clusters in improved production practices for local and high-value vegetables on a minimum of 125 hectares.
  • Support 3,390 vegetable farmers who will produce and supply local vegetable varieties to six trader associations identified in USAID FED counties.
  • Develop 186 lead farmers from these clusters who will aggregate local and high-value vegetables for trader associations and the private sector companies.
  • Support private sector investors like ROSNA, Grain Coast Inc. and others to establish contract farming with at least 700 farmers as out-growers for high-value vegetable production.
  • Assist five trader associations and two private sector firms in operating low-cost storage and logistics facilities that will reduce post-harvest losses.
  • Protected cultivation is successfully demonstrated during the rainy season, producing vegetables on 21 FY14 sites.
  • Encourage 12 agro-dealers to co-invest and aggressively market inputs to vegetable clusters in the six counties in partnership with agro-input supplier companies like Wienco or GroGreen.
  • Grain Coast Inc. to begin exporting high-value vegetables to European markets.
  • Support one private sector company in establishing vegetable certified-seed production and distribution pilot plan.

Goats Value Chain

  • Support 77 new goat production sites with 1,545 goat farmers with goat shelters.
  • Train 4,017 new goat farmer beneficiaries in improved production practices.
  • Support 2,060 direct beneficiaries in FY13 and FY14 in accessing markets, business development services and financing.
  • Train and provide start-up kits to 154 new CAHWS who will provide veterinary services to goat farmers.
  • Establish at least one livestock marketing hub in each of the four counties.
  • Establish product standards and provide tools and equipment (weighing scales) to enforce these standards.
  • Promote improved nutrition designed to shorten the time from weaning to market, leading to more goats sold in a year.
  • Conduct peste des petits ruminants (PPR) vaccination campaign nationwide.
  • Establish a nucleus breeding herd in CARI.

Peri-Urban Agriculture and Youth

  • Support 25 new horticulture clusters in Margibi and Montserrado benefitting 500 youth producing high-value-vegetables and linked to buyers.
  • Establish 49 new youth micro-enterprises to provide transport services in the cassava and rice value chains.
  • Establish 20 new youth micro-enterprises to provide power tiller and power saw services.
  • Create 98 new full time jobs for youth as machine operators in cassava processing enterprises and rice business hubs.
  • Support FY14 apprentices in creating 16 new micro-enterprises providing blacksmith and carpentry services to rice and goat farmers.
  • Support at least four local youth NGOs providing extension services to expand service offerings to include business development services; and help them achieve profitable operations.

In FY14, 70 percent of the program’s beneficiaries received nutrition messages. In FY15, USAID FED will improve messaging through a communications strategy that aims to change consumption patterns towards a more diversified diet containing more animal protein and nutrient-rich food.

In FY15, USAID FED will continue to conduct special studies that are meant to inform programming with data, which will serve as basis for adjusting targets and enhancing FY15 and FY16 strategies. Annual surveys on rice, cassava and vegetables yields help determine the impact of USAID FED’s intervention while providing a realistic benchmark for future targets.

In FY15, the MoA offices in Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Bassa counties will be provided with equipment to collect, process, analyze, store and transmit data. The program aims to first make the MoA Bong County office’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system fully functional. This system will then be replicated to the MoA offices in Grand Bassa, Nimba and Lofa counties.

Component Two: Stimulate Private Enterprise Growth and Investment

  • Draft and gain approval for the implementing guidelines and set up implementing bodies for the Seed, Fertilizer and Pesticides regulations.
  • Expand VSLAs from 123 to 573, facilitating loans of US$350,000 to 7,075 farmers.
  • Pilot the formation of at least one VSLA into a micro-credit union in partnership with Microlead.
  • Link LEAD to farmers and MSMEs to disburse US$237,000 in loans to 1,416 farmers and entrepreneurs.
  • Facilitate financing for at least three MSMEs to enable them to provide embedded financing services to farming clusters.

USAID FED will merge the activities related to Access to Business Development Services (ABDS) under Component Two with the activities related to the establishment of the Enterprise Service Centers (ESCs). In FY15, USAID FED will develop five Business Service Providers (BSPs) to support a minimum of 250 MSMEs and 18,935 farmers. The program will register a minimum of 50 new MSMEs through the BSPs and work to strengthen the capacity of farming organizations to do business. These BSPs will be strengthened toward eventually managing and operating the Enterprise Service Centers.

USAID FED continues to place a strong focus on increasing women’s involvement in agribusinesses and empowering women in agriculture. In FY15, the program will incubate businesses for 50 women leaders involved in diverse agribusinesses including peanut and cowpea processing and marketing.

Component Three: Building Local Technical and Managerial Human Resource Capacity

  • Roll out the National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) as soon as schools open.
  • Complete the development of syllabi and lesson plans for the second year of the NDA.
  • Complete the establishment of agricultural science laboratory (includes the soils laboratory) and computer laboratory in every Center of Excellence (CoE).
  • Complete upgrading of libraries.
  • Support the establishment of agribusiness enterprises, and develop the CoEs’ capacity to generate incomes from other sources.
  • Strengthen partnership with private sector agribusinesses and continue to improve the instructors’ capacity to deliver the NDA
Further Reading