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F&S’ adapted services for value chains during COVID-19

Fair & Sustainable Consulting (F&S) offers services on value chain development in adapted format now that many value chain projects and programmes are affected by COVID-19 measures  and our clients have to work differently to achieve the expected  results. F&S helps  in developing and implementing ways to overcome  value chain challenges, posed by COVID-19 restrictions.

Much has changed unexpectedly!

(Agricultural) value chains in Africa and Asia are hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis[1]. Some examples: labour and supply shortages arise, access to affordable inputs becomes complicated, and restrictions on imports and exports may be imposed, while (also local) transport and storage may get more expensive and even disrupted. The export of produce is also affected by changes in trade patterns with major exporting/importing countries. Eventually the prices of food rise due to these disruptions in the agriculture supply chains, reduced imports and the closure of many informal markets.

For producers, processors and traders this creates unexpected and serious new challenges as business models and revenue models are affected. Insight in, and control of these changes is of crucial importance for value chain actors, as the above mentioned developments will force them to adapt their processes, products and pricing.

F&S helps you to manage these changes and risks

As value chain development is one of the key services of F&S, we are able to systematically work through these value chain changes with you, from a distance (due to the fact that we are currently not able to travel) and with national consultants.

In this blog we explain how we will still work with you in researching, (re-)analysing and improving your value or supply chains.

In our Value Chains Selection support we help our clients in making informed choices of which value chains match best with their mission and strategy and fit best in the changed circumstances. In our ‘distance approach’ we operate as follows:

  • We make intensified use of current (fast changing) secondary data from international online databases. For instance on trade and export statistics, price information of commodities, information on demand and trends, but also data on social and environmental and risks. We also use our own database which contains previously collected data, where useful.
  • We equip our national consultants with tools (surveys, topic lists, guides) to collect additional data (also for verification of database data) ‘on the ground’. Depending on in-country travel restrictions, they collect data using online questionnaires, via phone or online (video) conferencing calls, or during visits. F&S guides and coaches the national consultants in this work from distance.

For Value Chain (Re-)Analysis (which goes deeper than the initial value chain selection), we develop actor-specific questionnaires for use by national consultants, live, by phone or online. We hold online video conferences with key stakeholders to discuss issues. The joint team analysis by international and national consultants is also done online.

We start and finalize the selection/(re-)analysis process with meetings, now hosted online. A kick-off meeting is held with the client to get deeper insight into expectations. In the validation workshop at the end, our analysis is triangulated, and more input is obtained from key stakeholders.

For these meetings, we use the video conferencing tool Webex , supported by tools such as Mural or Padlet, both in plenary and breakout sessions. Breakout sessions and participatory tools (e.g. Mural) help us to assure that we get the opinion of all relevant people, present in the workshop. The clients ànd national consultants play a big role in these workshops, as they know the context and important stakeholders best.

In the subsequent Value Chain Development and Implementation support, we use a toolbox for market systems development solutions online. This includes tools for business model adjustment/ development (eg: design of services and inputs, linking value chains to financial services, developing/reviewing partnerships for market access, etc.) All this is done online. For programme implementation (once programmes have started or have been adjusted), we offer use of the KOBO Collect surveys to track progress. We also provide distance support in data analysis to assess progress and we coach on where and how to further adapt strategies, develop new approaches etc.

Interested? Contact André Vording, andre.vording@fairandsustainable.nl, or Annelien Meerts, annelien.meerts@fairandsustainable.nl.


[1] https://www.ifpri.org/blog/how-covid-19-may-disrupt-food-supply-chains-developing-countries
https://includeplatform.net/news/covid-19-in-ethiopia-impacts-on-agri-food-systems-and-key-value-chains/
https://iclg.com/alb/11717-what-impact-will-covid-19-have-on-food-security-in-africa

First open-registration online Gender in Value Chains training

F&S is very happy to announce that our consultants Angelica Senders and Emma Feenstra will be facilitating an online Gender in Value Chains training. Because of COVID-19, we have decided to provide this training as an open-registration training for everyone to join.

For whom?

If you’re struggling with gender issues in your value chain project and you are looking for practical training to learn more about this topic, this might be just the training for you! In 5 weeks, you will learn how to conduct a gender analysis in a value chain relevant for your work, analyze the gender-based constraints, formulate interventions to address them and develop an action plan.

When?

The training will start on 15 June and costs only €895!

You can find more information in our leaflet, or sign up here!

Is Moringa a miracle tree?

Nutritional properties, cultivation and processing of Moringa oleifera leaves

The leaves of the “Miracle Tree” Moringa oleifera are becoming more and popular among health-conscious consumers all over the world. The leaves, eaten raw or powdered, are considered to be a novel superfood. In addition, development projects that fight against malnutrition use the leaves as a nutritional supplement. Various organizations and people make claims about the nutritional characteristics of theMoringa leaves. But, are these true? Dasha Gretchikhine – intern at Fair & Sustainable Consulting – dived into the complex matter of Moringa’s nutritional content and its retention throughout cultivation and processing.

The environmental conditions for Moringa cultivation should meet the tree’s requirements to be able to maintain optimal growth and nutrient uptake. Sand to loam soil texture, soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5, temperature range of 25-35°C and other requirements should be maintained for the tree’s growth. Poor cultivation practices can lead to high risks in terms of negatively impacting nutrient uptake and development of the tree as well as the environment. For example, over- and under-watering Moringa can cause root system degradation and soil erosion or lead to a poor nutrient uptake and photosynthesis rate of the tree. Therefore, this report has identified the preferable environmental requirement of the tree, together with the risks and opportunities of using various cultivation practices. One of the advises is to maintain a soil moisture content between 5-28% by applying irrigating practices, such as drip irrigation, that lead to a lower water loss, during the early morning or evening to reduce water evaporation rate.

Table 1: Requirement for an optimal nutrient uptake and retention by a Moringa tree

All processing steps, from harvesting to storing the powder, influence the nutrient composition and food safety of the leaves.The exposure to oxygen, light, heat, and metal contaminants can lead to nutrient denaturation, oxidation, leaching, etc. Preventive measures that can limit nutrient loss are presented in the report such as covering the leaves during harvesting and transportation to limit light exposure, applying freeze drying technique to lower the drying temperature and other. Nevertheless, processing steps that secure a higher nutrient retention do not always meet food safety standards. Room temperature drying, for instance, meets the nutrient stability requirements but does not reach the moisture content standards to prevent microbiological growth.

The research also compared thenutritional content of Moringa leaves with other commonly consumed around the world dark green leafy vegetables such as Amaranthus (Amaranthus spinosus), Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata), Cocoyam (Colocasia antiquorum), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), Spinach (Spinacia oleracea), and came to the conclusion that fresh Moringa leaves have overall higher vitamin, mineral, and protein content. The research findings state that Moringa can positively contribute to the daily Recommended Nutrient Intake of an individual; however, the bioavailability and digestibility of the nutrients present in the leaves and powder are still debated upon in the scientific field.

Table 2: Comparison between Moringa and other common dark green leafy vegetables protein content.
Source: USDA, 2019 and National Institute of Nutrition, 2017

In conclusion, the research recommends applying preventive measures to lower the risk of nutrient and product quality loss during cultivation, processing, and storage of Moringa leaves and powder. This, however, can be troublesome for producers in developing countries because of hight cost and time involved in the procurement and application of preventive practices. The technical and financial feasibility as well as the efficacy of advised measures should be field-tested.

Click here to read the full report!

Do you want to learn more about Moringa and how this value chain can be further developed? Contact Jochem Schneemann: jochem.schneemann@fairandsustainable.nl

Improve your reach and impact: the Market Systems Development approach (MSD)!

Fair & Sustainable Consulting trains CBI in use of MSD

Many organizations engaged in international economic development search for ways to efficiently increase the sustainability, impact and scale of their work. F&S shows  that Market Systems Development (MSD) is a method that can deliver such results.  

MSD focuses on creating lasting opportunities and benefits for poor people by tackling the underlying causes in the market system that block producers from improved market accessibility. The major difference between MSD and conventional economic support approaches is that solutions for these constraints are identified in the market. Hence, after a profound analysis of the root causes of the constraints, the private sector is assisted to define and provide a solution, through developing a viable business model that benefits them and their clients.

An MSD Example:

In Ethiopia demand for tomatoes is higher than the supply. Analysis showed that farmers do not apply Good Agricultural Practices, which limits production. A conventional development project would train  farmers, via their associations, to improve their agricultural practices. An MSD project however, will look for a private training company and support them to set up a fitting training and to sell it to farmers’ associations. In this way, many more farmers will benefit from the training and trainings will continue after the project end.

Increasingly, donors, NGOs and governments use MSD, and experience how this approach is effective in creating results, that sustain after a development intervention ends. F&S believes and has proven that the MSD approach is a more effective way to fight poverty, reach scale and sustain impact. F&S supports clients to get acquainted with the MSD approach and to apply MSD in their own development interventions.

Training CBI employees on Market Systems Development

“I have learnt how to build on existing services and find solutions and business models in the market” – participants of the training

The Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) is also exploring new ways to increase the impact of their support. As part of this, in  November 2019 and March 2020, F&S trained 14 CBI staff. During three days of interactive training, the participants were introduced to the concepts of the MSD approach and concretely designed MSD interventions for their current projects. Through analyzing case studies from their own work, participants got a better and hands-on understanding of MSD and developed their skills to design and implement MSD. They deepened their analysis of the case and even made a new result chain, with the potential to reach more scale and sustained impact.  

“I now understand how I can go from MSD theory to practice” – participants of the training

The participants developed new perspectives on their projects and shared their strategies with each other. During the discussions, participants and trainers shared feedback.

MSD for you as well? F&S provides customized (online) MSD training and support

F&S is able to customize its MSD training modules to your needs and your specific project partners and beneficiaries. We give our trainings online as well, therewith making them accessible to remote participants. Our online and offline trainings include presentations, Q&A sessions, exercises and case studies from your work floor, as well as personal coaching during the assignments.

Interested? Contact Jochem Schneemann or Annelien Meerts

ValueLinks useful tool for identifying economic opportunities: the case of threatened forest landscape in Madagascar

ValueLinks useful tool for identifying economic opportunities: the case of threatened forest landscape in Madagascar

Saro essential oil and raffia fibre prove to have the best economic and forest regeneration potential in the Antanambao forest landscape (Boeny region): processing and exporting companies (also) invest in the production and regeneration of the raffia and essential oil plantations, although still at low rates.

These are the results of a study carried out by Fair & Sustainable Consulting (F&S) for the GIZ Sectoral Programme “International Forest Policy” (SV IWP) in Madagascar. The objectives of the study were :

(a) to select and analyse forest related value chains that have potential to generate revenue for the local population, and

(b) to evaluate the restoration potential of the Antanambao forest landscape that is under threat due to over-exploitation, insufficient replanting, uncontrolled bushfires and grazing.

Photo of final export product of raffia fibers (photo credit: S. Kappers)
Photo of distillation unit of Saro essential oil (photo credit: S. Kappers)

F&S analysed the high-end wood craft market, and the honey, raffia fiber, saro essential oil (Cinnamosma fragrans) and silverpalm seed (Bismarckia nobilis) value chains. The ValueLinks methodology activities consists of mapping actors and their commercial relationships, and an estimation of production costs, added value and revenues for the different value chain operators. The current land use and land interests were also analysed, and a proposal was made for the demarcation of the landscape based on water catchment areas and potentially conflicting land use. This land use analysis showed production – natural resource interdependencies, such as a raffia forest playing a key role in water conservation and water supply to rice fields.

Map with proposed restoration options in the Antanambao forest landscape

The team was led by F&S consultant Jochem Schneemann, with Sophieke Kappers and Gerald Randriambololona as team members.

Jochem : “The ValueLinks selection and analysis tools worked well; to our satisfaction we succeeded to produce fair estimates of the economic and natural resource conservation potential of each value chain in a qualitative and quantitative way. I think this was the first time it was done this way. Developing the infographic was again interesting as we really had to limit ourselves to the most essential information and message.”

GIZ published the full study and the French and English infographics (see also below), which can be downloaded here.

Infographic showing 4 value chains and their potential for landscape restoration and income generation (developed by Fair & Sustainable Consulting, funded by GIZ)

For more information, please contact Jochem Schneemann at jochem.schneemann@fairandsustainable.nl.