A four-year, US$11.5 million partnership through grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Coca-Cola was launched on January 20, 2010 to help double the income of more than 50,000 small fruit farmers in Kenya and Uganda. Through this grant and its programmes, farmers are expected to improve and expand their production of mangos and passion fruit for locally-sold Coca-Cola fruit juices.
TechnoServe, the project’s implementing partner, has worked with the private sector to promote sustainable development since its founding in 1968. The US-based non-profit organisation has been in East Africa for almost 40 years and this most recent collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Coca-Cola ‘ which contributed US$7.5 million and US$4 million, respectively’ seeks to continue achieving mutually beneficial outcomes for multinational corporations and local suppliers.
TechnoServe’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Luba Vangelova, explains that helping farmers break into Coca-Cola’s fruit juice supply chain which currently relies on fruit juice concentrate imports, will occur through the transfer of ‘technical expertise, business consulting support, and training that will enable farmers to implement quality control standards and develop agricultural best practices to boost productivity.’
Training will also be extended to government officials to support these efforts, as well as to local fruit juice manufacturers and processors, with the help of Coca-Cola.
Another major goal of the project is the creation of ‘farmer-based organisations’ to eliminate ‘middlemen’ who regularly swindle cash-crop farmers across the continent. Vangelova points out that, based on TechnoServe’s work in the region, the price of products sold directly from the farm can increase by up to 30% were farmer groups to be directly connected to markets.
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With monitoring and evaluation playing a crucial role in this project, conclusions will continually be drawn from periodic data collection, reporting, and regular analyses of how well targets have been reached. For example, a randomised sample ‘ both by gender and region’ of about 20 farmers will provide ongoing results describing their opinions of the project and how it has impacted them. More long-term metrics will include how many farmers join ‘producer business groups’ and how many switch to ‘improved’ varieties of seeds in the first year. Social, environmental, and gender-based indicators, the latter of which is measured by the participation of women in decision-making, will also be used to gauge the overall results. All this information will lead to adjustments to be made during project.
With improved quality and productivity, Vangelova envisions a stronger and scalable supply chain that will allow farmers to start working with other multinational organisations in the future. TechnoServe and Coca-Cola both expect that this year’s harvest will benefit from the project and fruit from local farmers will be used in locally-sold Coca-Cola products by the end of 2010.
Scaling up this project and transporting it to other regions has garnered great interest and plans for duplication elsewhere in Africa are already underway. Vangelova says that since ‘studies have shown that economic success in poor countries can positively impact neighboring countries,’ the benefits to these farmers are expected to carry over across the five-nation East African Community (EAC) ‘consisting of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi’ as well.
A MediaGlobal Article