The 2018 Cracking the Nut conference took place on June 12-13, 2018 in Antigua, Guatemala at the Hotel Soleil La Antigua. The conference focused on encouraging the uptake of new technologies for agriculture and access to finance, in a way that promotes resilience. Connexus Corporation worked with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), USAID, Feed the Future, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Chemonics International, and NCBA CLUSA to organize the two-day learning event, which highlighted the broad range of technologies and approaches available to mitigate and adapt to global changes related to rural and agricultural development.
The conference brought together approximately 200 of the world’s leading industry thought leaders from private sector companies, financial institutions, investors, donors, and development practitioners to discuss “tough nuts” related to promoting agriculture technology adoption and resilience.
Visit the conference website to read more, and stay tuned for news about the conference publication, coming later this summer!
In Zambia, Connexus serves as a subcontractor to Crown Agents on the USAID Accountable Governance for Improved Service Delivery (AGIS) project, which looks to improve internal controls, budgeting and financial management of various Zambian ministries.
Connexus is providing both long and short-term support, including our long-term Communications Specialist who is leading all communications efforts. Additionally, Connexus’ gender expert is currently working on the development of a Gender Integration Strategy that aims to increase the number of women in budget execution, as well as their substantive involvement in procurement, accounting, and auditing within target ministries.
As part of USDA’s grant “Linking Infrastructure, Finance and Farms to Cashew (LIFFT Cashew),” awarded to Shelter For Life in 2017, Connexus will play a leading role in facilitating access to agricultural finance, investment, and marketing as needed to strengthen the cashew-growing regions of Senegal, The Gambia, and Guinea Bissau.
In particular, Connexus will build the supply and demand for agricultural finance in all three countries. Connexus will also work with Shelter For Life to set up a Cashew Fund to support equity and other investments in cashew value chains as a way to stimulate long-term direct investments and value chain finance as needed to meet international quantity and quality expectations.
Collectively, the six-year project aims to increase the volume and profitability of cashew processors, improve bargaining power of smallholder cashew producers, create jobs, especially for women and youth, facilitate outside investment, and strengthen the regional competitiveness of the cashew value chain. By strengthening the cashew value chain at crucial points, the project intends to see wider economic and social benefits for project communities, including the promotion of peace-building and reconciliation outcomes.
Connexus recently conducted a detailed crop value chain and market systems analysis in Ethiopia for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The main purpose was to identify target crop value chains that offer the greatest potential for expansion and upgrading for two CRS programs in the country: the Livelihoods Resilience of Oromia (LOR) activity, implemented by CRS and Meki Catholic Secretariat (MCS), and the Development Funded Security Activity (DFSA), a Feed the Future initiative.
Connexus’ team of consultants collected primary and secondary data through interviews and focus group discussions with key value chain actors across 14 woredas (districts), and utilized different tools like territorial scoping and value chain analysis to identify and prioritize potential value chains for the projects to work with. The team then developed a competitiveness and upgrading strategy for each proposed crop value chain along with various business plan models.
The results of the analysis will help CRS and MCS implement value chain development activities and upgrading strategies that not only foster livelihood and income generation, but also contribute to positive nutrition outcomes and are inclusive to different genders and youth. This will help producers (men, women and youth) and groups become market-ready and engage with sustainable value chains and markets for economic growth and poverty alleviation.
Connexus will be conducting its well-respected Agricultural Value Chain Finance Training in Addis Ababa on October 12-13, 2017 at the Sheraton Addis Hotel as part of the African Microfinance Week.* Don’t miss out on this opportunity to gain qualified training from Connexus’ experts, led by President & CEO Anita Campion. Learn about developing commercially attractive financial services that meet the needs of the various actors in the value chain and how a value chain focus can result in market growth and reduced credit risk. Professionals involved in agricultural finance, financial institutions, development organizations, donor agencies and governmental agencies are encouraged to attend.
*In order to take part in the training, participants must also be registered for the African Microfinance Week event.
The Cracking the Nut 2017 publication is now available for the public! The conference sought to address many of the issues we face to reinforce food systems to meet the growing demand of urban centers around the world. We are encouraged and inspired by the work and innovations that were on display, and the discussions they generated during the two-day event. The Cracking the Nut team has been hard at work compiling and reviewing the most important takeaways from the conference.
The publication is a conglomeration of the main lessons learned from the conference and emphasizes specific cases of innovative methodologies and implementation practices that were presented. The goal of the publication is for it to be used as both a reference for lessons learned and as a catalyst for future discussions and ideas on this essential topic.
We would like to thank all of the speakers and reviewers who helped refine the publication’s lessons and assisted in its completion.
Go to the Cracking the Nut website to learn more about Cracking the Nut and to see previous years’ conference publications and information.