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Everlyne Mwende,  a young lady in Kibwezi, Kenya, is passionate about agriculture. Shortly after she participated in an agribusiness incubation programme, Everlyne launched her livestock business with 50 birds in 2020.

The incubation programme was facilitated by the Youth-in Agribusiness compact of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT)  as part of its commitment to stimulating youth-led agribusiness enterprises along agricultural commodity value chains.

Sponsored by the African Development Bank as part of its Feed Africa Initiative, TAAT’s main objective is to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas.

 

The programme increases agricultural productivity through the deployment of proven and high-performance agricultural technologies at scale along selected nine commodity compacts such as cassava, Orange-fleshed sweet potato, aquaculture, small livestock, high iron beans, maize, rice, sorghum and millet, and wheat.

These work with six enabler compacts addressing transversal issues such as soil fertility management, water management, capacity development, policy support, attracting African youth in agribusiness and fall armyworm response.

Evelyne sold the 50 birds at Ksh 500 ($5) per piece translating to Ksh 25,000 ($250). After the sales, she restocked 100 birds for rebreeding. She later expanded her business to include the sale of eggs.

Beyond producing chicken, Everlyne has taken her passion to another level this year. She now mentors other poultry farmers within Kibwezi, building their capacity in good agricultural practices. She equally trains women and youth entrepreneurs for medium-scale poultry enterprises to deliver.

Members of the Bidii Self Help Group, a youth group in Kibwezi, have, since January 2021, engaged Evelyne to train them specifically on poultry and goat farming. She has equally mentored more than five other youth in poultry farming, and her business model has proven to be very efficient.

Evelyne is determined to continue sharing her production and business knowledge with other youth in her community and around Kenya. She will also be selling more chicks to farmers hence adding to her revenue streams.

According to Noel Mulinganya, the Leader of the Youth in Agribusiness compact, which is also known as ENABLE-TAAT (Empowering Novel Agribusiness-led Employment), “Evelyne’s resourcefulness affirms the efficacy of ENABLE-TAAT’s “Train-the-trainers” initiative. Through this initiative, benefitting youth are trained to become trainers in their local communities, thus creating a network of young people who have the skills and capacity to contribute to agricultural transformation in Africa.”

“More of such stories are budding, as the compact continues to track the record of previously trained youth,” Noel added.

It would be recalled that a similar “Train-the-Trainers” seminar, organised by the compact, held in March 2021 with youth participants from Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The youth were motivated to replicate the knowledge they received from ENABLE-TAAT in their communities as young instigators of African agricultural transformation.

Led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA),  ENABLE-TAAT provides capacity building and technical assistance to establish and expand youth-led agribusiness enterprises along TAAT value chains such as high iron beans, cassava, fish, maize, small livestock, rice and orange-fleshed sweet potato.

 

High-yieldng, downy mildew-resistant and suitable for food and fodder. Developed by ICRISAT and evaluated by INERA

 

 

Burkina Faso 1 June, 2021: Burkina Faso recently approved the commercial use of its first pearl millet hybrid called Nafagnon. With the approval, the single-cross hybrid also became the first of its kind to be approved in West and Central Africa (WCA). Nafagnon yields as much as 45 percent higher than popular variety Misari-1. It is more resistant to downy mildew and has higher fodder yield potential.

ICRISAT’s Pearl Millet Breeding program for West and Central Africa developed Nafagnon in Niger and the Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA) evaluated it in Burkina Faso. The hybrid’s name means beneficial millet in Bamanankan language. It also goes by ICRISAT Millet Hybrid (ICMH) 147007. Nafagnon matures early in 80-85 days and has a yield potential of about 3 tons per hectare; early maturity helps overcome terminal drought stress. It is a dual-purpose (grain and forage) hybrid resistant to downy mildew, the most harmful pearl millet disease in WCA. The seed size, yield potential, stay-green and earliness of the hybrid are traits highly preferred by farmers and end users in Burkina Faso, where low yield of pearl millet varieties relative to other cereals is forcing farmers away from one of the best suited crops for Sahel’s harsh agro-ecologies.

Nafagnon is a first generation cross of two genetically different inbreds. Such crosses are called  single-cross hybrids. It was evaluated in major pearl millet producing countries of the region over the last three years. The National Seed Committee of Burkina Faso announced Nafagnon’s registration in the National Seed Catalog, making it the country’s first pearl millet hybrid to be approved and the first single-cross hybrid to be approved in West and Central Africa.

 

Tailored to the region

 

“The first hybrid millets that were tested in West and Central Africa were bred in India. Unfortunately, they were too early maturing and susceptible to downy mildew disease. Learning lessons from those assessments, ICMH 147007 was developed, evaluated and selected in the WCA region,” said Dr. Gangashetty, millet breeder for ICRISAT-WCA, Niger.

“It is well adapted to West African environmental conditions," added Dr. Inoussa Drabo, pearl millet breeder at INERA, who led the evaluation of multiple hybrids and selection, and provided the necessary documentation for the release of Nafiagnon in Burkina Faso. 

"Since the 1990s, researchers at national research institutes and research organizations such as the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) have been working to obtain millet hybrids,” explained Dr. Issoufou Kapran, Seed System Specialist at ICRISAT-Mali.

“The strong research for development partnership between ICRISAT and INERA has been benefiting smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso. Nafiagnon, the first hybrid, is another important contribution to improve the livelihood of farmers” said Dr. Ramadjita Tabo, Regional and Research Program Director for ICRISAT-WCA.

 

All inclusive approach to new releases

 

INERA’s approach to millet hybrid development and commercialization in Burkina Faso involves partnerships with farmers and the private sector. Nafiagnon was tested by more than 500 farmers and three seed companies - NAFASO, FAGRI and EPAM - were involved. “The evaluation of pearl millet hybrids in Burkina Faso was taken up under the AVISA Project,” said Dr. Neya James, national coordinator of the project that is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mr. Ladji Sawadogo, a farmer in the village of Balla that is about 40 km from Bobo Dioulasso, planted Nafagnon along with the local variety on the same day on one hectare of land.

"I am impressed by how fast hybrid plants grow. Its leaves remain green at maturity and the grains are well formed and filled on the panicles. Not only will my family have enough to eat, but animals will also have enough to feed,” the farmer said.

Following its approval in Burkina Faso, Nafiagnon will soon be included in the next seed catalog of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The hybrid resulted from the activities of HOPE-2 project, funded by the Gates Foundation, HarvestPlus, GIZ, CGIAR Research Program Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals, INERA, seed companies such as NAFASO, FAGRI and EPAM in Burkina Faso. 

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a not-for-profit international agricultural research organization. ICRISAT works across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia with a wide array of partners to ensure food, nutrition and income security. The semi-arid tropics or drylands cover 6.5 million square kilometers in 55 countries and are home to over two billion people.

The Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA) on the other hand, is one of the four specialized institutes of the National Center for Scientific and Technological Research (CNRST). INERA is in charge of environmental and agricultural researches, development studies and dissemination of technologies in Burkina Faso.

 

The demand for good quality parboiled rice is high in parts of Africa, from east to west, north to south. As at 2015, rice consumption in countries was estimated to be approximately 26 million (MT) of which 13 million MT (about one-third of what is traded on the world market) was imported to the continent.

Rice consumption in Africa is projected to reach 34.9 million tons by 2025.  The African Development Bank estimates that the rice sector has the potential to become an engine for economic growth across the continent.

Thus, as the demand for rice increases as result of population growth, increased per capita consumption, and a shifting preference towards ‘premium’ rice linked to increased urbanisation, Africa will need to produce approximately 13 million additional tons of premium rice per year.

Increasing rice production to meet this need is expected to improve the livelihood of at least 3 million producers and lead to economic gains of about US$5.5 billion per year among African countries. To achieve this, Africa needs to develop technologies and infrastructures to support widespread production, processing and commercial adoption of high-yielding climate-resilient rice varieties.

Until now, domestic rice is processed in Africa through the traditional parboiling process. This is carried out mainly by rural women – laborious, time-consuming and unsafe, producing low quality rice with broken and burnt grains and bad smell.

It also requires lots of firewood, causing deforestation. Another major challenge is the pollution that comes with disposing the rice husks that accumulate after threshing.

 

A GEM for rice parboilers

 

 

To address these challenges, the rice compact of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) is deploying an innovative and environmentally friendly parboiling system -- called GEM (Grain quality enhancer, Energy-efficient and durable Material).

Sponsored by the African Development Bank as part of its Feed Africa Initiative, TAAT’s main objective is to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas.

The programme increases agricultural productivity through the deployment of proven and high-performance agricultural technologies at scale along selected nine commodity compacts which include rice.

Led by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the TAAT Rice Compact (TRC) seeks to achieve rapid intensification of rice production by raising farm-level productivity and improving the efficiency of processing and increasing market opportunity through innovative partnerships and proven technologies.

One of such is the GEM technology. Compared with the traditional technology, GEM produces rice of high physical and eating quality that fetches higher price on the local market. It was designed by AfricaRice and fabricated through partnerships with the private sector. The system is provided with pulleys that reduces drudgery.           

The improved system protects the women processors from heat and smoke exposure.  It further enables them to process large quantities of paddy rice in a relatively short time. It also includes an eco-friendly stove with a solar-powered fan that runs on rice husk -- a free and abundant fuel in rice-producing areas.

 

A profitable technology

 

The use of the GEM technology reduces paddy steaming time from 60 to 20 min, post-harvest losses from 6% to <0.5% and firewood consumption by 41-100%.

The substitution of firewood fuel by the rice husk results in US$30 savings per ton of parboiled rice. Milled parboiled rice has a higher content of B-Vitamins, minerals and demonstrates slower digestive and lower glycemic properties compared to white milled rice. Biochar produced from the burnt rice husk is used to improve soil fertility.

With the installation of the GEM system, Bouake Innovation Platform (IP) in Côte d’Ivoire is now supplying 4.4 tons of milled parboiled rice per month to the market. In collaboration with PAFER (NGO) and an equipment fabricator (TCMS) in Benin, six mini GEM rice parboilers costing CFA 19.5 million (about US$35,454) were installed in communities in Glazoué and Malanville rice hubs in Benin.

From April 2018 to June 2020, 2,255 tons of paddy were processed into 1,600 tons of milled rice. This system completely substituted firewood with rice husk leading to about US$38,300 savings across the IP sites.

Using the rice husk-fueled GEM rice parboiling system by the IP in Bukan-Sidi Lafia, Nasarawa state in north-central Nigeria for example, over 65 million Naira (US$181,800) was generated within one year (2019) from selling 218.15 tonnes of quality domestic parboiled rice.

A total of 68,300 parboiled rice value chain actors (paddy suppliers, service providers, rice marketers and rice consumers) have so far benefited from the GEM rice parboiling system in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Nigeria.

“Before the installation of the rice husk stove in our centre, we were spending a lot of money on firewood. But today, we can save that money. It increases our gains and saves the environment. It has really changed my life,” Juliet Ogbonikan a rice processor in Glazoué, Benin Republic said.

The IP in Nigeria confirmed that their production output for parboiling hit 4.4 t/day upon adoption of the GEM technology. A significant increase from the previous parboiling rate of 1.4 t/day.

“Our processing center now serves as a market hub and my paddy is no longer sold to middlemen since the IP is directly linked to market. Now, the IP members process their paddy before selling, using the IP-fixed price, which is 7-10% above the open market price; thus, maximizing profit by adding value to the paddy harvested,” Joshua Jonathan added.

According to Dr. Ernest Asiedu, the TAAT Rice Compact Leader, the significant improvement recorded with the introduction of the GEM technology aligns essentially with the compact’s vision of achieving rapid intensification of rice production through raising farm-level productivity, improving the efficiency of processing and increasing market opportunities across 20 African countries.

“The compact will continue on this pathway of expanding access of smallholder farmers, the majority being women, to high-yielding agricultural technologies and improving rice production as a means of assuring food security,” Dr. Asiedu added.

 

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) Zinath Deen, a fish farmer from Vihiga County in Western Kenya.

She has been practicing fish farming since 2012 in her farm called Tigoi Fish Farm. What began as a hobby for her later transformed into full-fledged business.

Over the years, Zinath has been struggling to produce fingerlings due to inadequate information and technology. She however experienced a turnaround upon her participation in a training on production of tilapia fingerlings. Organized by the Aquacultural Association of Kenya in collaboration with the Aquaculture Compact (TAC) of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), Zinath’s eyes practically opened to a world of opportunities through best practices in fish farming.

 “I realized that I was doing the production of fingerlings the wrong way and resolved to do things the right way henceforth,” Zinath said.

Sponsored by the African Development Bank as part of its Feed Africa Initiative, TAAT’s main objective is to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas.

The programme increases agricultural productivity through the deployment of proven and high-performance agricultural technologies at scale along selected nine commodity compacts which include aquaculture.

The bank, through the TAAT Aquaculture Compact (TAC) disseminates aquaculture technologies at that increase value chain actors’ productivity, increase fish protein consumption and enhance sustainability across the value chain.

Led by the WorldFish Centre, TAC responds to emerging opportunities for partnerships, influence and impact in fisheries and aquaculture across Africa.

Through its collaboration with the Kenyan Aquacultural Association, the compact was able to train fish farmers and breeders including Zinath on several technologies which included production of fingerlings in hapas, smoking of catfish in modern smoking kiln, value addition and production of affordable fish feed using locally available ingredients. Women and youth were the prime targets of the training with a view to creating jobs while assuring food security.

Following the training in 2019, Zinath and her fellow fish farmers, by the fourth quarter of 2020, were able to increase their production tenfold. Their annual production increased from 120,000 to 360,000 mono sex tilapia. Annual income also increased from $16,649 to $49,440.

With increased income through her fish farm production, Zinath was able to increase her number of employees from 2 to 5. She was also able to transfer the technology to 38 farmers who participated in the training sessions she organised in her farm.

Zinath’s experience as well as that of her colleagues, further accentuates the fact that with right technology, fish farmers are able to graduate from subsistence to commercial producers of fish hence improving their livelihoods through increased income.

The TAC team will therefore continue on this trajectory of disseminating technology to more farmers so as to integrate it with the other methods of fingerling production.

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