During the week of October 19, 2015, Janet MacLaughlin, Senior Advisor for Economic Growth, and Benita Gunn, Global Issues and Initiative Coordinator, from the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Assistance, traveled from Washington DC to join USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub in field visits to Trade Hub program beneficiaries.
In Catandica, Mozambique, the team met with ECA-Cargill, which is implementing the Trade Hub-supported pilot Warehouse Receipt System (WRS). The WRS enables farmers to deposit grain at an accredited warehouse and receive a receipt for collateral, which grants them access to credit and the option to sell when market prices are more favorable. On the macro level, WRS provides a commercial framework and economic incentive for investment in high quality third party storage, reducing high levels of post-harvest loss and food insecurity.
The OFA visitors also held an informal focus group with Solidaridad, a development NGO based in Chimoio, Mozambique that received a Strategic Partnership Grant from the Trade Hub to work with smallholder farmer groups teaching crop rotation, seed multiplication, and the introduction of new crops to diversify diets and income streams.
Smallholder farmers stressed the value of production techniques that they learned through farmer-owned demonstration plots and testified that the training has improved their yields. They also praised USAID and Solidaridad for introducing soy and groundnuts, which they are putting into their diets by substituting wheat bread and cooking oil with soy cakes and homemade peanut butter. Discussions with lead farmers from Solidaridad also revealed how the increased revenue from the new crops is affecting their communities.
Solidaridad’s Field Coordinator told the delegation that Solidaridad has already reached approximately 7,800 families, surpassing the target of 5,000 families that was set when the grant was designed. He also pointed out that 60% of the beneficiaries are women.
Photo: USAID Trade Hub and OFA delegates with Solidaridad farmers and field officers