Value-chain approach in smallholder agribusiness: a roadmap to good nutrition

By  Marian Amaka Odenigbo

Ever wondered how pastoralists earn their livelihoods and make a living?

In October 2014, while on a supervision and implementation support mission to the IFAD-funded Smallholder Agribusiness Production Programme (SAPP) in  Zambia, I was told that pastoralists used to bring their animals and spend between two-four days along the highway to Lusaka waiting  for potential buyers.

In these cases, typically  livestock is transported  for sale in pickup vehicles which have  poor loading and unloading facilities. The lack of appropriate infrastructure increases the  risk of animals escaping and potentially being injured. Furthermore, when the animals escapes, there is also risk of road accidents.

The IFAD-funded projects and programmes in Zambia are addressing these types of  challenges and constraints faced by small-scale farmers through a value chain development approach.

A value chain development approach links all the various steps required to get the product from the farmer to the consumer. In doing so it addresses the opportunities and constraints faced by all actors in the food supply chain and attempts to improve the final product and commodity.

SAPP is a  joint Government of Zambia and  IFAD-supported value chain development programme which focuses on transforming subsistence farmers to business-oriented farmers.

Smallholder  farmers in this programme are engaged in various commodities including; small-livestock, beef, groundnuts, common beans, cassava, aquaculture and rice.

New marketing pen constructed in Lusaka through SAPP matching grant
The programme has  intervention plans addressing key weaknesses to create an enabling environment for rural commercial development. These interventions include organizing, smallholder farmers in groups and cooperatives and connecting them to input suppliers and local private sector outlets. Furthermore, it is providing  the necessary infrastructure such as facilities for collective marketing, ramps for loading and unloading livestock, post-harvest processing, thus adding value to the final products and commodities.

The mission visited the  Munyenze livestock Service Center in Monze District. This livestock service center has a standard ramp, weighing scale, functional bore hole with a regular veterinary services and disseminates technical information to the smallholder producers.
Input supply shop in Lusaka small-livestock market
established through SAPP matching grant

Its operation is focused on transparent and improved market for cattle, collection and storage of milk from farmers on a daily basis with deliveries to the main depot every second day.

Esther Hatwiko, a female beneficiary rearing five cattle expressed appreciation for SAPP intervention in her business.

"The availability of veterinary services  saves me time and transportation costs. Now I no longer need to travel  great distances in search of such services", said Hatwiko.

During our mission, we were able to observe the routine information dissemination activity at the centre which constitutes an entry point to raise awareness on nutrition-related issues.

The beef value chain has great potentials for  nutrition mainstreaming. For example, the beef Intervention Plan includes a consumer awareness campaign to educate consumers about quality and different cuts of meat. This activity helps consumers be updated on meat storage and refrigeration norms while providing advice on high-nutrition recipes.

Small Livestock Association of Zambia located in Lusaka constructed a market point that includes selling pens for pigs, goats, sheep and chicken with certified disease free and abattoir assurance. Health measures in place at this center include monthly medical check on abattoir workers and acceptance of only certified disease free animals in the market points.

Animal pens in Lusaka small-livestock market  
Simukonda Branda a chicken seller expressed her appreciation for the increase in  income  from trade at the market point. "My previous trade of kapenta (dried fish) generated 50-70 kwacha on daily basis but now I make 200-400 kwacha by buying and selling chicken at this center", said Branda. “Before I used to walk about 3-4 km in search of chicken to buy and sell and often came back without finding any ".

"By doing business in this center I  save on transportation costs, avoid the stress of being stopped at veterinary check points and have the assurance of actually selling my product", added Branda.

Mutuna Shadrech, another smallholder producer, estimated that his income from sale of pig increased  from 400 to 600 kwacha. “By bringing my animals for sale to this center, I gain knowledge from the technical training sessions, get useful information and learn from other farmer experiences”, said Shadrech.

In transforming farmers from subsistence to business-oriented , IFAD-funded SAPP has  proven to be a  pathway for nutrition mainstreaming.

Moore Beef

Moore Beef, a Zambian based private sector whose core business is to supply fresh meat (beef, pig, sheep and goat meat) to the Pick & Pay supermarket in Lusaka has offered to partner  with SAPP and train Zambian smallholder herders on breeding high quality livestock heads.
Moore Beef’s  abattoir in Choma district provides a secure market, as the private company has enough demand to regularly buy livestock. “Partnering with Moore Beef would allow the project beneficiaries to count on a secure income and save at least four days of travel per month”, says Abla Benhammouche, IFAD representative in Zambia. This demonstrates a win-win situation for the smallholder farmers and the private sector.

The MoreBeef intervention aims to reach out to over 10,000 smallholder herders and producers. This linkage is geared towards production and processing of high quality livestock and nutritious meat products.