CRAFT project partners commit to invest EUR 28.7M towards climate-smart agriculture

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The Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project in partnership with 36 agribusinesses from East Africa, has committed EUR 5.6M in co-funding as part of its transformative support for climate smart agriculture, livelihood improvement, job creation, and income enhancement of smallholder farmers in the region. The amount is equivalent to 16.3% of the investment needed, while the remaining 83.7%, amounting to EUR 28.7M will be generated by the 36 agribusinesses engaged by the project.

Focus on smallholder farmers, women, and youth

The CRAFT project uses an inclusive business approach as one of its criteria when selecting business cases to ensure that it develops sustainable business solutions that expand access to goods, services, and livelihood opportunities for low-income communities in commercially viable ways. This inclusive business approach will support the large-scale roll-out and adoption of climate smart practices and technologies; and stimulate agribusiness development that is commercially, ecologically, and socially sustainable under the prevailing climate change conditions.

Over the last 18 months, the CRAFT project has awarded co-investment grants to 29 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and 7 cooperatives working in the agribusiness sector across three countries – Uganda (14), Tanzania (14) and Kenya (8).

Agribusiness SMEs and cooperatives seek to support their contracted smallholder farmers, including women and youth by building their capacity to adapt to the changes in climate. The farmers will receive training in improved farm management, in addition to the provision of climate-smart services and technologies, access quality inputs such as improved seed, linkage to markets, provision of aggregation, bulking or storage facilities as well as post-harvest handling capacity, including equipment.

Unlocking opportunities for climate adaptation

Co-investment with the private sector through the CRAFT Climate Innovation and Investment Facility (CIIF) is one of the key strategies identified by the CRAFT project to help unlock more opportunities in agriculture for investments towards climate adaption and technologies. Through the CIIF, CRAFT will support performance-based grants to build the resilience of private sector agribusinesses and service providers in the targeted value chains. The private sector companies invest their own funds and leverage off the CRAFT grant to attract additional investment from commercial financial institutions.

A total of 237,250 smallholder farmers in seven value chains (common beans, green gram, sunflower, potato, sorghum, soybean, and sesame) will benefit from the partnership with the 36 SMEs. The project seeks to scale efforts for adoption of climate smart production, improvements in post-harvest handling and processing methodologies which are key to increasing productivity and efficiencies of the existing food crop production and supply systems.

Quality grain assured

'Before we partnered with CRAFT, we used to look for quality seed across the country. Once, we got a big order from Kenya and UGACHICK and we tried to look for quality soybean in vain. We had to buy from the border district of Busia. As a result, we could not compete favourably with the players in the market because our price was high, and the quality of the soybean was poor. In 2018, we made a loss of over UGX 200 million (EUR 44,600) because we supplied poor quality seed. With the CRAFT partnership, we have been able to introduce soybean growing once again in Mubende one of the districts in Central Uganda. Our farmers are assured of market for their grain and we are assured of quality grain in the right quantity because we not only sell quality seed to the farmers but train them on climate smart agricultural practices like planting in lines, timely weeding and on post-harvest handling', Kenneth Owoyesigyire, Managing Director Okeba Uganda Limited said.

Extreme weather patterns and 70% economic loss

According to a study conducted by Niang et al 2014, the rise in temperatures in Eastern Africa is projected to exceed the global average while rainfall amount in many parts is expected to decline. So far, the changing climate has manifested in increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as drought and floods that represent 70% of economic losses related to natural hazards in Sub- Saharan Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Smallholder farmers, who are heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, are some of the greatest casualties of these changes. The CRAFT climate change risks and opportunities reports of 2019 and 2020 project that the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as floods and drought will increase  due to climate change, negatively affecting agriculture even further.

Dr John Recha, Climate-Smart Agriculture Scientist at the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), East Africa said: 'Agriculture in East Africa is carried out predominantly by smallholder farmers who contribute up to 90% of crop production. On the backdrop of a growing population and emerging wide-reaching food shortages, crop production must increase significantly to address the food crises in the region. This requires concerted efforts and joint investments by supply chain actors, service providers and public sector partners, working in the different targeted value chains to support effective adaptation and mitigation strategies.'

CRAFT is anchored on three pillars: increased adoption of climate smart practices and technologies amongst farmers and agro-enterprises, increased investments, and business growth in climate smart value chains, enabling environment necessary to ensure large-scale roll-out of market driven climate smart agriculture. The project is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.