Proposal by RMI Development for Increasing Smallholder Farmer Productivity

RMI Development

Proposal

Increasing Smallholder Farmer Productivity

This proposal was created by RMI Development.

SECTION 1: BACKGROUND

Project name: Increasing Smallholder Farmer Productivity

Name of submitting organization: RMI Development

Proposed skill contributions:

Proposed partners: SPACE Development

Background: The challenge of agribusinesses looking at ways of strengthening their supply chain by developing models of inclusiveness with small scale farmers is ubiquitous across many commodities in Africa. In the past commercial relationships with small scale farmers were more often than not at arm’s length where price and various forms of coercion were the main factors driving the relationship between agribusiness and small scale farmers. In recent years things have begun to change as agribusinesses began to realize the benefits of a more Partnerial and long term relationship with their farmers. Terms such as shared value and social licence to operate began to permeate into the vocabulary of agribusiness as they have attempted to make farmers a more sustainable and resilient part of their supply chain. RMI have been at the forefront of many of these initiatives. A number of the projects that RMI has undertaken over the last ten years have been focussed on understanding the constraints faced by small scale farmers based on these learnings and helping agribusiness design models of support which strengthen the farmer-business relationship.

Of particular relevance to this assignment are the following projects that we have undertaken: 

Many of these projects along with a number of others undertaken by RMI in the last 10 years have taken place in Tanzania. It is estimated that RMI has spent over 3000 senior man days on assignment in Tanzania. This has resulted in our team having an excellent understanding of the agricultural and development landscape in the country. For a number of the projects that we have undertaken we have partnered with SPACE Development and have a good working relationship with them. This partnership with SPACE builds on the RMI experience in Tanzania but also ensures local knowledge and solutions form an integral part of the assignment. The project director for this assignment, Ian Sherry speaks fluent Swahilli which is a considerable advantage in working in Tanzania.

Rural communities engaging in agricultural production of crops such as vanilla have a number of coping mechanisms in order to maximize their use of available resources. Our experience is that farmers fall into three main categories depending on a number of different factors inherent in their livelihood strategies. These phases are a survive phase, a growth phase and a flourish phase. In an ideal world and given the right support these phases are a continuum and farmers should progress until the flourish phase is attained. This seldom happens however as structural barriers in the enabling environment, in the support given to the farmers or the agricultural policies and strategies in the country becomes a barrier to progress. Understanding this is important for any agribusiness as farmers in survive mode, are inherently uncertain producers as their vulnerability impacts their ability to produce (especially in non-food crops like vanilla). Farmers that are predominantly in the flourish mode are far more resilient and agricultural production is therefore far more certain.

As RMI we therefore understand that in order to increase the surety of supply of any commodity, one needs to ensure that as many farmers as possible growing that commodity are flourishing. In order to do that, one first needs to segment the farmers to ensure that each farmer segment receives the right training and support (Our experience is that in any farmer population there are a number of different groups). We use a segmentation tool based on farmer’s attitude and their competencies and circumstances to describe each of the groups within the farmer population. Based on this understanding of the farmer population we can describe pathways to move different farmer groups from survive to grow to flourish. In describing these pathways to change we get a clear understanding (based on qualitative and quantitative research undertaken) of the enablers and barriers to change. This will allow us to design interventions to enhance the enablers and remove the barriers to change. Our experience working on similar projects are that some of the barriers to change are not always that obvious and require a good depth of knowledge and understanding of the farmers and communities. In one coffee project that we worked on one of the barriers identified was dysfunctional households at a social level. While the agribusiness involved thought that it was not their place to support in the social structure of households our research showed that the household was in fact the unit of production. A weak household therefore translated into dysfunctional production. By strengthening the household though activities such as food security initiatives and financial literacy training of female members of the household a positive impact was seen in the coffee production.

 

SECTION 2: PROJECT APPROACH

Rural communities engaging in agricultural production of crops such as vanilla have a number of coping mechanisms in order to maximize their use of available resources. Our experience is that farmers fall into three main categories depending on a number of different factors inherent in their livelihood strategies. These phases are a survive phase, a growth phase and a flourish phase. In an ideal world and given the right support these phases are a continuum and farmers should progress until the flourish phase is attained. This seldom happens however as structural barriers in the enabling environment, in the support given to the farmers or the agricultural policies and strategies in the country becomes a barrier to progress. Understanding this is important for any agribusiness as farmers in survive mode, are inherently uncertain producers as their vulnerability impacts their ability to produce (especially in non-food crops like vanilla). Farmers that are predominantly in the flourish mode are far more resilient and agricultural production is therefore far more certain. As RMI we therefore understand that in order to increase the surety of supply of any commodity, one needs to ensure that as many farmers as possible growing that commodity are flourishing. In order to do that, one first needs to segment the farmers to ensure that each farmer segment receives the right training and support (Our experience is that in any farmer population there are a number of different groups). We use a segmentation tool based on farmer’s attitude and their competencies and circumstances to describe each of the groups within the farmer population. Based on this understanding of the farmer population we can describe pathways to move different farmer groups from survive to grow to flourish. In describing these pathways to change we get a clear understanding (based on qualitative and quantitative research undertaken) of the enablers and barriers to change. This will allow us to design interventions to enhance the enablers and remove the barriers to change.

Our experience working on similar projects are that some of the barriers to change are not always that obvious and require a good depth of knowledge and understanding of the farmers and communities. In one coffee project that we worked on one of the barriers identified was dysfunctional households at a social level. While the agribusiness involved thought that it was not their place to support in the social structure of households our research showed that the household was in fact the unit of production. A weak household therefore translated into dysfunctional production. By strengthening the household though activities such as food security initiatives and financial literacy training of female members of the household a positive impact was seen in the coffee production.

The TOR are clear in that NEI is looking at developing a strategy that leads to them receiving a continuous and assured supply of vanilla. They require this to be done by getting a clear understanding of who their growers are and what motivates them, and then to use this knowledge to design a series of support interventions for their farmers. We strongly endorse this approach of starting with the farmers and designing strategies and systems of support around them.

The TOR is divided into three work streams with very close linkages between the three. We would see significant merit in one consultant doing all three work streams as to strengthen the linkages between the different outcomes. This is particularly so where survey are done with the community which could be combined to save both cost and to mitigate the impact of survey fatigue on communities. While we have priced the work streams individually, should RMI be awarded the three contracts, we would be happy to discuss how the savings made could be used to strengthen or enhance other aspects of the project.

SECTION 3: ACTIVITIES AND DELIVERIES

Activity 1: Identify behavioural drivers of SHF productivity
Description: Approach: Our approach is formulate a research methodology based on the existing knowledge of NEI, the farners and the District officers. We will get buy-in from everyone through a workshop and then we will carry out the research. This research will be analysed and we will then be able to identify and understand the behavioural drivers of SHF productivity.

The activity set is as follows:

Existing Data Collection: We will gather first level Information: from the NEI database, a desk study of similar experiences with smallholder vanilla farmers in other projects, and from our own RMI first hand experience. We will gather data on Districts, wards, villages, number of farmers, existing extension services, collection methods, payment systems.

Compiling into Information: We will take the data and use it to understand the full gepgraphical scope of project, the socio economic circumstances of the growers, the current farming systems, the enabling infrastructure and the institutional framework.

Preliminary Design of Research Methodolgy: This initial set of information will enable us to prepare a preliminary design of the research methodology, which will include sample size and confidence limits. We envisage the research to combine key informal and focus grouping discussions, farmers field interviews and discussion with village institutions. We plan to do the research and pilot in one District, as agreed with NEI. For reasons of economy and ease of access, our planning assumes that this District is the one closest to NEI’s operational headquarters.

Prepare and Submit Inception Report: On completion of these activities, we will prepare and submit an Inception Report which will set out current findings and a roadmap going forward.

Inception Workshop: We propose to hold a workshop with NEI farmers, NEI staff and district officers and any other key stakeholders. At that workshop we will share the Project Vision and expected outcomes. We will share the contents of the inception report and discuss the road map. We will use this to ensure that the vision of everyone is aligned. We will obtain additional information to inform the research and likely outcomes. We will better understand things from the farmers point of view. We will all understand NEI’s expectations of knowledge from among their suppliers.

Refine Research Methodology: We will use the new information to refine the research methodology. At this stage we envisage interviews with 40 households in 4 villages + group discussions in each village together with interviews with key NEI and District staff. Data collected will be quantitative and qualitative in nature.

Carry out survey: we will pilot the research tools and train field interviewers briefly before perfecting the tools before we engage in actual data collecting. We will then carry out the survey.

Analyse data and create information: the collected data will be analysed and compliled into information for ease of understanding.

Present at Workshop: We will present the findings to NEI management a staff and agree the main behaviour drivers. We think this information must be shared with the farners and the district officers.

Confirm current Knowledge levels and make a preliminary assessment of training needs.

We will prepare and Submit a Report.

Duration:Twelve weeks

Deliverable:

Outputs:

    • Inception report
    • District level workshop proceedings
    • Confirmation of knowledge levels
    • Assessment of training needs

Outcome: NEI understands the key drivers of/ barriers of household productivity across the SHF.

 

Activity 2: Segment NEI’s SHF network based on training needs
Description: Our approach is to understand any segmentation strategies already in place and, from the successes and failures, capture the lessons learned. We will add RMI’s own experience and apply this to the information from the research to design a preliminary Segmentation Strategy.

We have designed a set of activities to achieve this:

Workshop with NEI extension Staff to learn: existing segmentation, training methods, training materials and M&E results. From this we will Understand NEI’s desired levels of productivity, quality, and price. We will also understand growers actual costs and gross margins.

We will compile a preliminary matrix of knowledge levels required for each segment to reach the levels expected by NEI for each segment. We will then use the Research data to compare existing knowledge levels with the desired levels leading to a Knowledge Improvement Matrix.

We will understand how existing delivery methods and resources are matched with the desired knowledge improvement 

We will then define segments and describe categories for Extension and Training Needs.

We will compile and Submit the Knowledge Improvement Report

Duration: 5 weeks

Deliverable:

Outputs:

    • Segmentation workshop
    • Knowledge Improvement Report

Outcome: NEI understands its key SHF segments and their respective training and extension needs.

Activity 3: Design and pilot segment-specific training content/methods
Description: This phase of the study is to design and pilot segment-specific training content and methods.

Our approach is to build tye new on the old, learning lessons from failure and adding to success. We will design training materials for easy and quick wins. We will take into account the farmers knowledge and behaviour drivers and also the knowledge and drivers of the proposed extension staff.

We will design a pilot that will be easy and cost effective to implement. t The first activity will be to receive and deconstruct existing training materials. Based on this and on discussions with NEI staff, we will draw up a training needs matrix, highlighting key training strategic objectives to fit NEI requirements. From our experience, we recommend that topics include organisation, and money management as well as production.

Our design will follow a logical framework where the impact or desired outcome will inform the training inputs and outputs and delivery methods or activities. (i.e. sequentially design activities, outputs and outcomes, as a Training Theory of Change.)

We will design an organizational structure, taking into account the training skills capacity of the proposed extension staff. We will then develop the training materials. We envisage that, at the early stage, these will be restricted to the most important factors for success and failure. Typical subject matter will be the big do’s and don’ts of key production, organization and money practices. Some consideration should be given to training on the effects of climate change.

Lastly we will design a delivery mechanism that takes into account how smallholder farmers learn. We envisage that most of the materials will be tablet based and will include multi-media in kiSwahili as a core tool.

Together with NEI staff, we will then select pilot areas and carefully plan the resources required. We will discuss costs with NEI.

Together with NEI staff, we will then run a pilot with monitoring and evaluation ongoing. We envisage this pilot to include about 20 farmers in one district. We will evaluate the uptake of new knowledge by farmers as exhibited by changes in behaviour. (Such changes can only be truly evaluated over time but initial findings can be of great help) We will evaluate the success of the materials, the delivery media and the techniques used to deliver the training.

On completion of the evaluation, we will hold a workshop with NEI, District Extension and Farmers to share the results of the Pilot and listen to the farmers feedback in preparation for scaling up to a broader range of material and a greater number of farmers in more districts.

Duration: 12 weeks

Deliverable:

Outputs:

    • Categories for Training
    • Training Needs Matrix
    • A Training Theory of Change
    • Training Materials
    • Workshop to finalise Objectives, Content, Structure and Methods
    • A running Pilot
    • Monitoring and Evaluation Information

Outcome: NEI’s training materials are designed to address segment-specific SHF capacity gaps.

Activity 4: Identify opportunities and dependencies to scale training improvements

Description: This is the last activity of this phase and the deliverable is to identify opportunities and dependencies to scale training improvements. We take this to mean scaling up the training strategy, structures and systems to include a greater spread of segments, a broader range of material and a greater number of districts.

Our approach will be first to improve the training, then select criteria for roll out, develop and cost a rollout strategy and then design the plan for implementing it.

Improve Training: Using the information coming from our monitoring and evaluation of the pilot, we will improve the training materials, making them more relevant, improve the tools, making them more effective and improve the delivery methods, making them more easy and cheaper. We will then run a mini trial of the improved training with new farmers, to confirm the changes in design.

With NEI, we will identify their priority areas and then design the geographical roll out strategy.

At the same time we will design a system for broadening the base of the training materials to ensure a continuous improvement.

We will at this point be able to develop costings for various full scale roll out options and explore options for financing.

The final activity is to submit the Final Report giving detailed recommendations for scale and sustainability.

Duration: Six weeks

Deliverable: 

Outputs:

    • Activities Test Results
    • Rollout Strategy
    • Cost Savings Report
    • Finance Options Report
    • Financial Report with Recommendations

Outcome: NEI’s training programme is designed for scale to reach 7,000 SHF beneficiaries.

 

Project measurables: See below for write up on M & E

Methods of data collection:

    • Interviews
    • Focus Group Discussions
    • Public Meetings
    • Written Surveys
    • Technology
    • Other – See write up

RMI’s methodology for Monitoring and Evaluation is explained here.
Briefly: For each Activity Set, we will design a Theory of Change. This comprises linked  Activities, Outpiuts, Outcomes and Impacts. Our monitors check that the activities have been done,  and the outputs are in place. Our Evaluators evaluate the outcomes, impacts, and the assumptions  and compare with those planned in the Theory. The causal logic and assumptions are also evaluated.
The steps are given here:

Step 1

    1. Develop the Theory of Change for each project component, and jointly for the project as a
      whole.
      The ToC identifies the project activities and their tangible outputs which are needed to produce the desired outcomes. ( for example the Activity “training in governance” leads to the tangible Output of a Board Charter which in turn brings about the outcome of Improved Governance ). Put together, the desired Outcomes, result in the desired Impacts.
    2. Clearly identify the causal logic that link the activities to the outputs, the outputs to the outcomes and the outcomes to the impacts; the causal pathways.
    3. Clearly state the assumptions on which the change theory is based. For example, that the political situation is stable.

Step 2

    1. Develop indicators for each activity, output, outcome and impact. This is done as part of the activity set at the time of execution to suit the actual requirements on the ground.
    2. Indicators must be holistic in nature and properly reflect the clients desired outcomes.
    3. These indicators determine whether things have actually taken place as conceived.
    4. Develop suitable Means of Verification for the selected Indicators. These will be quantitative and qualitative.

Step 3

    1. During execution of the activities use the indicators to determine whether the activities have actually taken place as designed.
    2. After execution, use the indicators to determine whether the outputs of each activity are in place, as designed.
    3. In case of defects or faults, examine the assumptions and causal logic.
    4. Using the indicators, evaluate the desired outcomes and impacts using a set of appropriate indicators.
    5. Evaluate validity of assumptions and correctness of the logical pathways.

Risks in project:

Risk management strategies:

 

SECTION 4: SKILLS AND TEAM

Relevant past experience:

We give below details of three projects that show some of our experience in:

    • Working with a major Agri-industries company to design, pilot and scale comprehensive Outgrower Service Delivery in several countries in Africa
    • Working with smallholder farmers in Tanzania
    • Working on new investor greenfield projects in Tanzania

Outgrower Service Delivery Models for Illovo (2012 – 2019)
Location: Kilombero, Tanzania; Maragra, Mozambique; and Nakambala, Zambia
Funders: EU, Solidaridad and Illovo
Project Objective: Develop a Service Delivery Model for the outgrower extension teams at Kilombero Sugar Tanzania,
Maragra Sugar Mozambique, and Zambia Sugar, Zambia.
Work description:
RMI assisted the three estates to design Outgrower Service Delivery Models suited to the different ways the farmers are organized: in Maragra one large apex cooperative with 1500 farmers, at Kilombero 17 Farmers Haulage Associations and at Mazabuka 5 Farmer companies. Number of farmers at these three estates is approximately 22,000.
Desired outcomes were: growers sustainably supplying good quality crop for processing, at sustainable prices.
Essentials were understanding drivers of farmer behaviour, to encourage new farmers to enter, existing farmers to stay, and all farmers to grow in terms of productivity, income and participation in the industry, establishing reachable targets for productivity, encouraging levels of income and empowering degrees of participation.
These three projects formed part of the base work that enabled the Illovo group of companies throughout Southern Africa design the new outgrower strategy with RMI support.

Kyerwa Coffee Project (2011 – 2016)

Location: Kamuli, Tanzania Funder: Self-funded by RMI

Project Objective: To move coffee farmers down value chain from selling dried cherries to casual traders to selling prepared green coffee to specialty coffee roasters

Work description: We worked with 150 farmers in three villages of the Kyerwa District of Kagera. The farmers were growing arabica coffee in a mix crop system of bananas, coffee and vegetable crops. The coffee was sold as dried cherries to passing traders but had a potentially very high value as a speciality coffee if sold directly to roasters.

With young people from the community, we set up a training team to train coffee farmers in working together and improved coffee husbandry. We engaged an extension officer from the Coffee Research Institute, with the involvement of the Ward Extension Office in providing the training and designing the quality assurance systems.

Farmers were taught about (1) the coffee industry, the value chain and their position within it (2) opportunities for making more money by moving down the value chain (3) ways of improving productivity through stumping and insect control (4) ways of getting finance for their crop (5) ways of organising themselves so they could improve quality and sell a higher value product.

We engaged with two banks, NMB and CRBD, to get funding for Capacity Building and Group Formation and advances against cherry supplies. This was not successful. We did obtain funding for advance coffee purchases from a charitable foundation, the Burkhardt Foundation of Germany. We tried to get a loan from a bank to buy a huller without success.

The project collapsed after a major infestation with coffee borer beetle which destroyed the intrinsic quality, and hence value, of the coffee berries.

Bagomoyo Eco-Energy Community engagement Project (2011 -2016)

Location: Bagamoyo, Tanzania Funder: Eco-Energy

Project Objective: Empower the community to actively participate in the planning and implementation of a 3000ha sugarcane outgrower scheme

Work description: Develop and implement the community development and outgrower service delivery strategy for the Eco- Energy sugar project in Bagomoyo, including:

    • Engagement with the District and Village leadership on the outgrower project (Informing and discussing)
    • Training of Farmers and the village leadership
    • Developing options with the villages for the implementation of the outgrower project including models for Service Delivery

While the main Project eventually failed due to a breakdown of relations with the government, our efforts were successful in:

    1. Organizing three rice farmer groups in Kiwangwa, Matipwili and Kigame to upscale and commercialize their irrigated paddy rice production (as precursor to the larger outgrower scheme). These projects are still running.
    2. Designing a framework for holistic delivery of Service to farmers and Communities as part of the EcoDev initiative.
    3. Securing funding from IFAD and AFDB: $50 million for infrastructure; $20 million for farm capitalization; and $8 million for capacity building

Key staff experience:

Team Leader : Dr Ally Namangaya

Research Design Specialist : Dr Ally Namangaya

Segmentation Specialist : Mike Ogg

Training Materials Design : Ian Sherry

Field Team Leader and Training Materials Delivery : Ruben Mgonja

Dr Ally Namangaya will lead this team. He is a Tanzanian development professional and academic with more than 25 years developing and carrying out research with land and agriculture-based development in Tanzania. His CV is uploaded here.

He will be assisted with design and field operations by Ruben Mgonja.

Ruben is a Tanzanian Professional with more than 10 years’ experience working with smallholder farmers all over Tanzania in a wide variety of crops. Ruben holds a Bachelors in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Master’s in Business Administration.

Mike Ogg will lead the Segmentation Component. Mike is a South African with more than 25 years working with smallholders in East and Southern Africa, Mike has been leading the Outgrower Strategy Design for Illovo Sugar and is a leader in ideas around outgrower service delivery. He has pioneered new holistic approaches to segmentation of farmers in projects in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Swaziland. His CV is uploaded.

Ian Sherry will support the team with his knowledge and experience of designing Service Delivery to smallholder farmers. He will play an active role in designing materials and delivery systems. Ian has been working with outgrowers for 20 years and has led several initiatives to deliver service to smallholder farmers. His CV is uploaded.

 

SECTION 5: FEES, REPORTING AND FOLLOW ON

Currency Selection: USD

Upper fee limit: $97,910

Payment structure:

    • Milestone/deliverable based;
    • Other

An advance of USD 25,000 to enable us to commence work.

Thereafter full amounts for each activity: staff as budgeted under utilization, Car, Lodging and flights at actual cost.

Reporting processes: N/A

Desired frequency of reporting:

    • Monthly
    • After submission of each deliverable / achievement of each milestone
    • Other – Activity Reports

Interest in follow on work: Yes. We are interested in long term partnership with NEI. We wish to undertake all 3 projects.

SECTION 6: Additional files

CVs

1. Dr Ally Namangaya-rural

2. Ian Sherry

3. Mike Ogg

Workplan and budget

1. Budget

Additional files

1. Reducing Smallholder Supply Risk Through Access to Finance

2. Policies