Sydney-Johanna Stevns

Sydney-Johanna Stevns

Country: Chile
Organization: La Fundación para la Innovación Agraría (FIA) Santiago, Chile

I worked with an organization called La Fundación para la Innovación Agraría (FIA) (or in English, the Foundation for the Innovation of Agriculture) in Santiago, Chile. The mission of FIA is to support a culture of innovation in agriculture that improves the competitiveness of sustainable and inclusive farming.

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Nashwa Khali

Organization: Vodafone Farmers Club / Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSMA)
Country: Ghana

NASHWA: GSMA1, working with a wide range of mobile network operators and civil society organisations, is launching a series of nutrition-focused m-health and m-agriculture initiatives in South Asia and sub- Saharan Africa, called mNutrition. The objective of mNutrition in mAgri is to create and scale commercially sustainable mobile services enabling smallholder farmers to improve their nutrition, yields and incomes. The product to be delivered and evaluated is the Vodafone Farmers’ Club. The service is a bundled solution offering agricultural information in addition to voice and SMS services. In order to measure the causal impact of the Farmers’ Club product, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) will conduct an external impact evaluation of the mAgri programme in Ghana in November 2016. A randomized encouragement design will be implemented. Specifically, some communities will be randomly assigned to receive additional marketing and promotion of the Farmers’ Club product and some communities will not be assigned to the additional marketing and promotion. The additional marketing and promotion will consist of price discounts, advertisement scripts, and gender targeting.

Rationale for Intervention

The rapid expansion of mobile phone access to populations at the base of the income pyramid presents an unprecedented opportunity to expand coverage of nutrition and agriculture services to this previously overlooked segment of the mobile market. Mobile phones and computer centers are the most targeted channels to provide not only technical and scientific information on crop production and nutrition, but also to support the marketing of products that can help level the playing field between small producers and traders. Agricultural extension services delivered via mobile phones can in theory promote ‘nutrition-sensitive’ interventions by creating competent and efficient farmers who are able to increase productivity by making effective use of knowledge and information which is delivered to them.

Broadly speaking, nutrition-sensitive agriculture is aimed at improving the nutritional status of a population by maximizing the impact of food and of agricultural systems, while minimizing the potential for negative externalities regarding the sector’s economic and production-driven goals. In the last few years there has been a visible trend in agricultural policies and programs to become ‘nutrition-sensitive’ by leveraging agriculture to maximize nutrition impact. Yet there is an identified need to better understand the linkages between agriculture and nutrition, and to decipher the ways in which agriculture can contribute to improved nutrition. Despite the potential of mobile services coupled with agricultural change to improve nutrition and diet quality, very few studies exist that critically assess the application of mobile phone technology for nutrition in resource-poor settings.

Farmers’ Club

Farmers’ Club is a bundled solution offering farmers agricultural and nutrition information in addition to voice and SMS services. The target market Vodafone expects to attract is about 450,000 Farmer Club users by 2016/17 across 8 regions in Ghana: Eastern Region, Western Region, Ashanti Region, Central Region, Northern Region, Volta, Brong-Ahafo, and Greater Accra. Researchers from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) are conducting a rigorous mixed-methods evaluation to estimate the impact of mNutrition and to understand how the context and the components of the mNutrition intervention shape its impact. To estimate the casual impacts of the product on farmer’s behavior, knowledge, nutrition, yields and income, a randomized encouragement design is being implemented where some communities are randomly assigned to receive additional marketing and promotion of the Farmers’ Club product and some are not assigned to the additional marketing and promotion. The additional marketing and promotion will consist of price discounts, advertisement scripts, and gender targeting.

The goal of the impact evaluation is to measure the causal impact of Farmers’ club on behaviors and outcomes linked to nutrition and agriculture. But before a full scale impact evaluation is rolled out; which is resource and time intensive IFPRI decided to do a pilot, which is the leg of the project that I was brought on to do. Essentially the purpose of the pilot was to test the assumptions of the evaluation and related encouragements before they are rolled out for the study and to test willingness to pay for the Farmer club product. As soon as I landed in Ghana I had three priority areas to work on:

  1. Build relationships with potential implementing partners and all the involved stakeholders; including Vodafone, The University of Ghana, and ESOKO2

  2. Collaborate with Vodafone to do user feedback surveys for existing Farmers’ Club customers. This would help the research team at IFPRI understand the rates of take-up of the service as well as the perceived benefits of subscribing.

  3. Set up the IRB3 protocol, as well as pilot evaluation that would allow us to answer the following research questions:

    •   How effective is the Farmer Club at increasing the knowledge and changing the behavior of farmers?

    •   What are the impacts and cost-effectiveness of the Farmer Club product on household’s dietary diversity, agricultural income, and production?

    •   Does targeting women increase impacts over and beyond the impacts of a non-targeted Farmer Club product?

  What is farmer’s willingness to pay for Farmer’s club?

The preliminary data gathered while I was in Ghana evidenced that Farmers’ Club positively enhanced the livelihoods and quality of life of smallholder farmers by improving access to information, financial services and supply chain solutions, delivered via mobile phone. Furthermore the mNutrition component of the intervention promoted behaviour change around key farming decisions and practices via mobile nutrition content.

Julia Leis

Julia Leis

Country: Burkina Faso
Organization: Millennium Challenge Corporation

Julia Leis was selected to work on the Diversified Agriculture Activity, a $30 million project of the $490 million Millennium Challenge Compact with Burkina Faso, designed to increase rural incomes and employment and to enhance the competitiveness of the rural economies in the Sourou Valley and the Comoe Basin. She completed an extensive value chain analysis of the project’s deliverables, synthesizing different activities along the supply chain within certain sectors, providing insight on the multitude of interventions taking place in the regions over the past few years.

Julia: “Working with MCC and Burkinabé colleagues was an incredible experience. I gained an understanding of the complexity of contract management and program implementation in the field. While I have studied international development during my undergraduate years and now graduate school, it was incredibly valuable to see how complex projects are managed and implemented on the ground, and learn about the importance of partnerships with local communities. I now feel more prepared and committed to pursuing a career in development in West Africa and I’m very grateful to have had this opportunity.”

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Liz Henry

Liz Henry

Country: Ecuador
Organization: Root Capital

Liz Henry was assigned by Root Capital’s office in Lima, Peru to investigate and formulate a plan for expanding its loan activity into Ecuador. Using her Spanish language she was able to engage with diverse stakeholders, include personnel international: agencies such as USAID and NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services, directors at the Inter-American Development Bank, representatives from commodity trading firms, employees and consultants at Ecuadorian government ministries, CEOs of SMEs and rural cacao and coffee farmers

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Bernardo Goriupp

Bernardo Goriupp

Country: Uganda
Organization: MAPLE (Microdevelopment for the Alleviation of Poverty through Learning and Entrepreneurship), an Oregon based NGO operating in Uganda

Bernardo Goriupp worked as Project Manager, responsible for design to implementation of a small scale fish farm. This included everything from technical and business modeling to investigating potential sources of funding to developing a business plan to be used for grant applications and for expansion.

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Country: Nicaragua

Meghan conducted the Program Evaluation of a microcredit and sustainable agriculture program in Leon, Nicaragua for SosteNica, a U.S.-based nonprofit that funds sustainable agriculture and development initiatives in rural Nicaragua . As the Evaluation Consultant, Meghan developed and conducted an assessment of the socio-economic and environmental impact of this pilot program on its participants.

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Country: Kyrgyzstan

Jenya worked at Kompanion, a Microfinance Company established by Mercy Corps. She worked on monitoring and evaluating agricultural extension programs that Kompanion carries out as part of its development mission and also provided recommendations on how to develop a social performance management system for the company.

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Country: Catholic Relief Services

Jocelyn worked with Catholic Relief Services-Rwanda (CRS-Rw) to analyze how male and female farmers benefit differently from CRS’ agricultural and value-added production programs. She designed focus group surveys to meet with coffee, sweet potato, and cassava farmer’s groups. Her research was shared with the CRS-Rw livelihoods team to improve future agricultural and gender programming.

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Country: India

Jillian worked at CARE’s Economic Development Unit, examining and documenting agricultural projects put in place as part of the recovery process after the 2004 tsunami that devastated the east coast of India. She is analyzing agricultural and fisheries value chains, with an eye to using markets to empower women and support sustainable development

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Countries: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador

Suzanne worked with Catholic Relief Services on the Agriculture for Basic Needs Project, analyzing the project in four countries (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador) with a special focus on the savings-led credit groups and the impact on sustainable agriculture, innovation and learning.

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