The year 2012 is significant for Africa Harvest. In the midst of a very difficult phase in our history, the organization launched an ambitious 10-year plan to reach one million people in 10 African countries. Like many organizations in the “development space,” the global economic crisis did not spare Africa Harvest.
During the year under review, the global economic outlook remained fragile. Africa, like other emerging market and developing economies, saw its economies slowed by policy tightening in response to capacity constraints, weaker demand from advanced economies and country-specific factors.
As a non-profit making organization, Africa Harvest was negatively affected by reduced donor funding during the year. This created a huge resource problem amidst an increasing need for our services. The Board and Management managed this phase by being creative; managing limited resources, retaining and hiring the appropriate staff. Critical organizational change in mindset and behavior enabled us to successfully manage this difficult phase. We are glad to report that, in the midst of the above challenges, the organization satisfactorily delivered on its six programs. The redefining and expansion from four to six programs, as required by the 10-year, 2012–22 Strategic Plan, went on smoothly. Based on the premise that the challenges of the year would either be a temporary phenomena or “the new norm”, the Board and Management opted to pursue an aggressive strategy.
In particular, the Board encouraged Management to expand into other African countries, with specific focus on two of the largest economies on the continent: Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Given the challenges of 2012, the Board, Management and Staff are particularly grateful for the continued support from DuPont Pioneer, Australia Aid (AusAID), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Global Communities (formally CHF International), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Financial Transaction Reports Analysis Center (FINTRAC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and CropLife International (CLI). The Board is encouraged by the exemplary manner in which Management steered the organization during the challenging year.
We are encouraged by the impact that Africa Harvest’s Programs have continued to have on the resource-poor farmers. We remain committed in our efforts to achieve our vision of an Africa free of hunger, poverty and malnutrition. The Board is confident that Africa Harvest’s future remains bright.
Africa Harvest started the year 2012 energized, after the Board of Directors approved the 2012–22 Strategic Plan. The Plan helped us to re-clarify our mission and goals, and re-define our positioning in the development space. During the first half of the year the Board and Management reflected on how best to increase operational efficiencies, especially with regard to synergising and aligning the previous four programs to the current six programs: Food and Nutritional Security and Sustainable Livelihoods of Smallholders; Technology Development and Deployment; Natural Resources Management; Agricultural Markets and Policy; Communication for Development and Knowledge Management; and Finance, Administration and New Business Development. We are proud to report that this demanding process was done successfully.
In the second half of the year, Management was tasked with operationalising the new Plan. This involved reaching out internally to all staff. Every employee was asked to re-define their work plans in line with the new Plan. Team leaders collated ideas and innovative thinking to ensure an organization-wide buy-in. The external strategy involved reaching out to existing and new funders. We also reached out to various partners such as Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIAR) and agriculture-focused NGOs in our target countries.
While the Plan became operational, we continued with our commitments: During the year, we entered into Phase II of the Sustainable Sorghum for Multiple Uses (SMU) Project in Kenya and Tanzania. The project is funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is the lead implementing agency. The project reached out to resource- constrained smallholder farmers in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) in eight districts in the Eastern Province of Kenya and in eight districts of Northern and Central Tanzania. Farmers planted almost 30,000 km of Gadam Sorghum and yield increased up to 1,350 km (15 bags) per acre during the year.
With funding from AusAID’s Nairobi office, we continued implementing the activities for the Food Security and Livelihoods through an Improved Sorghum Value Chain in Kenya Project.
Meanwhile, implementation of the Food Security and Ecosystem Livelihoods (FOSEMS) in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands of Kenya Project entered the third year. A harvest of close to 800 metric tons of sorghum grain was expected under the Project funded by IFAD. By the end of the year under review, overof 4,000 one-day-old Kenbro chicks had been distributed to nearly 2,500 households. Africa Harvest, in partnership with CHF, carried out agriculture trainings to 3,500 targeted beneficiaries in program locations in Kitui, Mwingi and Thakra.
We also made great strides in the FOSEMS Project by building three sand dams. Construction of the third sand dam commenced during the third quarter of the year and was completed within a month, in time for the October rains. An extraction well was also constructed to assist the community access clean water from the dam for domestic and livestock use.
The Africa Biofortified Sorghum has undergone several seasons of confined field trials (CFTs) in Kenya and to Nigeria. The objectives of the CFT trials were three-fold: 1) to introgress ABS pro-vitamin A traits into local sorghum cultivars, 2) to study the stability of ABS traits over generations, and 3) to develop biosafety data. Two categories of biosafety measures were applied that included genetic and material confinement.
The biofortification of sorghum has unmatched potential to impact on the nutritional status of sorghum consumers in Africa, not only in the rural areas but also the hard-to-reach arid and semi-arid areas with few alternative crop choices. The choice of sorghum as a crop highly adapted to harsh climatic conditions, the diverse uses sorghum and the imminent impacts of global warming puts ABS in unprecedented position to impact on nutrition and food security.
Africa Harvest is grateful to the ABS consortium members and institutions who continue to provide invaluable contribution to the achievements of the project goals. We are grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) for funding ABS phase I and the no-cost extension phase. We are also grateful for the on-going Howard Buffet Foundation funding of ABS Phase II, through DuPont-Pioneer. Further gratitude goes to our technology partner DuPont-Pioneer and others who have donated ABS Intellectual Property.
We continued with projects involving TC Banana and by the end of the period under review, over 1.5 million people had benefited directly. We are proud to report that due to the high level of success achieved in Eastern and Central regions of Kenya, the USAID and the Kenya Horticultural Competitiveness Project (KHCP) was extended to Kisii County in the Western region of the country.
With funding support from CropLife International, Africa Harvest continued to provide leadership for the continent in the Plant Biotech Strategy Council (PBSC). During 2012, the Africa Biotech Outreach Project had activities in Kenya, Uganda and Burkina Faso. Africa Harvest continued to work with partners to get the Biosafety Bill passed in the Parliament of Uganda. In Kenya, Africa Harvest continued to participate in the Bt cotton Taskforce and also in the operationalization of the new Biosafety Act. In Burkina Faso, Africa Harvest contributed to expanding the successful Bt cotton to other francophone countries. Resource constraints continued to be a challenge amidst increased anti-GM activities on the continent.
Overall funding and other challenges that we faced during the year made Africa Harvest more resilient and better focused. This required better alignment of limited resources, sharper clarity on partnerships to deliver the highest returns. By the end of the year, we were encouraged that despite the challenges, thousands of lives were transformed.