A training workshop facilitated by IFAD to support PASIDP II’s market access initiatives

The training was provided by Andrew MacPherson, an international agribusiness consultant for IFAD and a farmer with extensive experience in the field of agriculture production and marketing. The role that market access alliances play in providing access to markets and services, such as credit and transport and the preparation of business plans, were the key topics covered during the workshop.

From left to right: Mr Andrew MacPherson, international agribusiness consultant for IFAD and farmer; Mr Halefom, PASIDP II agribusiness specialist from Tigray region (translating). 
Since start-up, PASIDP II has been struggling with the implementation of its second component, which aims at strengthening the capacity of farmers supported under the programme to establish effective linkages and collaboration with other actors in the value chains as a way to access markets, finance and appropriate technologies. Following the second supervision and implementation support mission, IFAD has provided technical assistance to the implementing team, providing them with the intended model and tools for supporting local stakeholders to set up their market access alliances (MAAs) with business plans.

MAAs, which are organized either at Woreda or Kebele level, are comprised of farmers’ cooperatives, service providers (e.g. input suppliers, aggregators, exporters), representatives of lead farmers in each of the beneficiary Kebeles located in each region, regional youth/women representatives, representatives of the regional bureaus of agriculture, representatives of the regional bureaus of trade, and the regional PASIDP II agribusiness specialists. 

The mission supported a series of stakeholder meetings, in three of the four regions where PASIDP II operates, between 27 August and 7 September 2018. These aimed to provide practical and hands-on guidance to the nascent MAAs on how these can create linkages with markets, credit providers and other service providers as well as on the preparation of business plans by farmers. This exercise also intended to demonstrate the modalities of training to the PASIDP Agribusiness personnel at both Federal and Regional levels.

During the training it was apparent that all farmers were most interested in producing for the market. There were no exceptions to this, demonstrating the need for farmers to produce for income, as opposed to producing for household consumption. Aside from the enthusiastic reception of the concepts covered during the workshop, it was found that the chairperson of the MAAs was a public employee, and not a commercial member of the value chains. This presents a potential conflict of interest, whereby the chairperson would not be affected by commercial decisions made. This was highlighted as a point of improvement to be considered by the members of the MAAs. 

During the sessions on business plan preparation it was made clear that adequate payments for provision of water should be made to and kept by irrigation water users associations organized by the programme as a means of ensuring that there was sufficient funding to cater for actual operations, maintenance and replacement costs. This calls for a proper communication of actual water costs to farmers prior to or during scheme construction and the incorporation of these costs in farmers’ business plans. 

The mission was concluded by sharing analytical planning tools and training materials to the federal and regional agribusiness specialists of PASIDP II to allow these to organize similar workshops in the future in other irrigation schemes of the program. The training tools included a graphic depiction of the rationale and role of the MAAs and on the ethics of value chain operations, a farm business plan model, and a farmers’ cooperative business plan model. The latter helps farmers’ cooperatives to assess their production costs, cost of sales, return of labour, as well as basic sensitivity analyses, enabling them to plan their production and marketing in a business-like fashion. 

The ICO has worked with BMGF and AGRA to develop a collaboration and mobilize a grant to scale up the model to about four locations in each region, which are intended to serve as model locations for learning and further replication during programme implementation.