A Year Like No Other: Stories of Resilience and Innovation from Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation
2020 has truly been a year like no other. As we enter a new year — and with it, Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation's 9th year as a program — we offer inspiring stories of resilience and innovation from our private sector agribusiness partners around the world.
Meeting new challenges through new partnerships
In 2020, Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation launched 16 new partnerships with agribusinesses, bringing to 75 the total number of partnerships created by the program since its inception nearly a decade ago.
Our partnerships provide agribusinesses with critical investment and expert guidance to help them sell their innovative technologies and services to smallholder farmers in emerging markets. Farmers, in turn, benefit from greater productivity, higher incomes and strengthened food security.
- In Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru, we’re providing smallholder coffee producer organizations with critical price risk management knowledge and financing to better navigate volatile coffee prices.
- In Mozambique, we’re helping farmers recover from the devastation of Cyclones Idai and Kenneth and build resilience to future environmental and economic shocks.
- From Guatemala to Zambia, we’ve committed $1.2 million in support to 10 former partners to help them cope with the impact of COVID-19 and ensure previous program investments continue successfully.
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in early 2020, Partnering for Innovation tapped into its global network of agribusiness partners to learn first-hand how they were responding in five critical business operation areas: production, sales, liquidity and financing, workforce and decision-making.
Their responses, captured in our five-part infographic and article series, revealed how pandemic-driven movement restrictions, supply change breakdowns and plummeting sales created significant short- and long-term challenges.
Many of our partners pivoted their operations in creative ways to cope with the economic effects of COVID-19. Others successfully continued their innovative efforts despite the challenges of a new business landscape:
Reconnecting with customers — For program partner Semilla Nueva, a social enterprise based in Guatemala, COVID-19 forced changes to their in-person sales approach for high-yielding, nutritious biofortified maize seeds. In fact, shifting delivery and marketing approaches ranked as one of the top five ways businesses we surveyed said they were responding to the pandemic. With the help of Partnering for Innovation, Semilla Nueva is developing new ways to reconnect with farmer customers.
Bolstering operations — For other partners, COVID-related hardships provided an opportunity to improve their operations. When the pandemic forced shutdowns and border closures, southern Africa-based program partners Agri-Input Suppliers Limited, Casa do Agricultor and Stewards Globe responded by capturing real-time information to better understand where their products are sourced and how to best deploy their inventories. We’re supporting these firms in adopting enterprise resource planning platforms, a digital tool that helps bolster resilience to market-disruptive shocks.
Creating opportunity out of adversity — As COVID-19 worsened in Kampala, Uganda, Farm Reap founder Sylvia Natukunda saw demand for her yogurt products plummet. She quickly pivoted her operations to reach customers where they were (at home) by introducing a direct-to-consumer delivery service. With Partnering for Innovation support through the Growing Women’s Entrepreneurship (GroWE) award, Sylvia piloted a new delivery service for her products that outperformed the company's in-store sales from its top supermarket customer.
Leveraging the private sector for transformative impact — Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) disease — commonly known as sheep and goat plague — has devastated the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers for decades. With the support of Partnering for Innovation, Hester Biosciences Nepal is the first private sector firm to produce and commercialize a thermostable version of the PPR vaccine that eliminates the need for a cold chain from production to distribution. The new vaccine offers transformative potential to contribute to PPR eradication efforts worldwide.
In 2021, Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation will enter into its ninth year of collaboration with agribusinesses in emerging markets to deliver improved technologies and services to smallholder farmers around the globe. The following are just a few of the achievements our partners will be focusing on in the year ahead:
Stopping losses, creating gains — ColdHubs will launch six new cold storage sites near marketplaces and smallholder farmer clusters across Nigeria. These walk-in, solar-powered units increase the shelf-life and value of perishable foods.
Connecting to high-value opportunities — Acceso El Salvador will provide opportunities for its network of smallholder farmers to produce and sell at least 100,000 lb. of processed vegetables to major supermarkets and quick-service restaurants in the country through its new — and El Salvador's first — vegetable processing facility.
Building a more resilient coffee supply chain — Neumann Gruppe GmbH will bring to market 14,156 metric tons of fresh coffee cherries from smallholder farmer cooperatives in Kenya and Honduras.