Ensuring food security in the time of COVID-19
COVID-19 has significantly impacted the agricultural sector in emerging economies. The increasing restrictions on movement forced people to creatively solve problems and propelled technological solutions. As a result, this greatly accelerated the digital transformation in sub-Saharan Africa.
Food security, livelihoods, and functioning markets is central to SCOPEinsight’s mission. Knowing that more professional agribusinesses are more resilient and can weather external shocks more effectively, strengthened our resolve to professionalize them. Therefore, we worked on ways to continue helping our clients professionalize agribusinesses. Although our assessments were already partially remote, we worked with our clients to develop ways to be completely remote (while maintaining data quality). Therefore, in April we worked with the IFC, Nuru International, and Shelter for Life to conduct remote assessments. As part of this pilot, we conducted 32 assessments in Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Kenya. In September, we held a webinar to share the results. Here are the main takeaways from the webinar.
Remote Assessing Olam’s Suppliers in the Ivory Coast: the IFC’s Experience
The IFC’s piloted the remote assessments in a project focused on helping the suppliers of cocoa and cotton to Olam become more professional and reliable business partners. The IFC also helped these agribusinesses access the finance they need to grow their businesses. The results of this pilot were that virtual assessments are very useful in ensuring program continuity during disruptions. Also, it seems as though the assessments are cost-efficient as per diem and travel does not have to be paid. However, it did take assessors more time to complete the assessments (as the interviews had to be conducted over several days).
Strengthening the Cashew Value Chain in West Africa: The LIFT Project’s Experience
Shelter for Life, piloted remote assessments on the USDA funded Linking Infrastructure, Finance, and Farms to Cashew (“LIFT”) project in SeGaBi region (Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea Bissau). The aim of the LIFT program is to develop the linkages necessary to support an integrated regional trade network for the cashew value chain and enhance the production and trade of cashews in local and international markets. Farmers and processors in the SeGaBi Region are highly vulnerable, and therefore strengthening their capacity to operate as a highly effective business is crucial. This was the impetuous the project had for embarking on remote assessments.
Ensuring Kenyan Smallholder Food Security and Livelihoods: Nuru Kenya’s Experience
Nuru International piloted remote assessments on their Kenya Smallholder Food Security & Livelihoods Project. Nuru’s project is focused on promoting food security and improved livelihoods. This program consisted of health interventions, financial inclusion, livelihoods, and leadership training. Recognizing the vulnerability of these farmers, Nuru piloted the remote assessments to ensure programmatic continuity.
We are thankful for the clients who were the frontrunners in piloting these assessments. Since the pilot, we several other clients have conducted remote assessments. Below is the culmination of the lessons learned from these experiences.
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