As prime contractor, Connexus is leading this five-year, $12.5M Activity. The Activity focuses on establishing private sector engagements (PSEs) with leading agribusinesses, producer organizations, and local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to create six “horticulture hubs” in different regions of Senegal. These hubs are local networks of more than 37 anchor firms and SMEs working with more than 25,000 smallholder farmers, 58% of whom are women. The hubs provide rural farmers and agribusinesses with greater access to input technologies, agricultural support services, finance, insurance products, and post-harvest infrastructure as well as increased opportunities for networking, partnership, deal-making, learning, and mentoring so that more smallholders can participate in commercial horticulture.
Connexus is collaborating with NCBA CLUSA’s Feed the Future Kawolor Resilience Activity to link more women and young farmers to the hubs. Connexus conducted a comprehensive Gender and Youth Barrier Analysis and Integration Plan at the outset of the Activity to understand the particular challenges faced by these groups in undertaking commercial horticulture. In the first two years, the six hubs have grown to include more than 13,000 women and youth.
To date, the Activity has facilitated over $9.3M in financing for hub actors and established nine PSEs using $1.2M in co-investment grants that have leveraged more than $10M in private sector co-investments in hub activities and infrastructure. Smallholders have marketed more than 31,000 MT of horticultural produce at the hubs worth $13.8M in the first two and a half years. Ultimately, Nafoore Warsaaji aims to empower 50,000 smallholder farmers to enter commercial horticulture and increase their gross margins by 50% within five years.
Connexus is also applying an Antifragile Market Systems Approach to the hubs to ensure that they can thrive in the context of continual stresses and shocks and rapidly pivot to embrace new market opportunities or prepare for emerging threats. The Connexus approach assesses and strengthens five key dimensions of antifragility in market systems: innovation, optionality, learning, trust, and diversity.
Examples of significant innovations that Nafoore Warsaaji is facilitating with lead horticultural market actors include:
- Working with the La Banque Agricole (LBA), the Senegalese national agricultural bank, to introduce professional collateral management services at key horticultural trading centers to allow producer organizations and aggregators to use their stocks of onions and potatoes as collateral to secure credit lines for more buying. This activity helped LBA extend more than $1,157,000 in credit to seven major horticultural buyers in the onion and potato value chains and helped avoid trade disruptions during the COVID lockdown, benefiting approximately 600 small potato and onion growers.
- Facilitating a $300,000 co-investment with input supplier Holland Greentech (HGT) to create 11 new demonstration farms that sell HGT products and provide technical assistance to more than 10,000 smallholders over three years. These farms will be used to train smallholders in advanced input technologies so they can meet the quality standards of buyers in Dakar. The farms will also serve as sales and demonstration platforms to showcase and sell HGT products and services.
- Helping the Caisse National d’Assurance Agricole du Sénégal (CNAAS) insurance company pilot new horticulture-focused insurance products, including heat-indexed crop insurance, to reduce the risk for small farmers to invest in commercial horticultural production activities. To date, these risk mitigation instruments have been purchased by hub actors to protect more than 5,900 small farmers and their $8M in crop investments. The Activity is also working with private agri-firm Fraisen to pilot the production of strawberries as a high value crop for regional sale.
- Working with e-commerce firms Afrikamart and Proxalys to establish the Proboutik Internet marketing platform to improve horticultural trade and logistics between rural smallholders and small retailers in urban markets.
- Helping onion and potato buyer Bey Seddo improve the functioning of onion and potato value chains by improving packaging operations at regional collection centers and building a 5,000MT cold storage unit. This private sector engagement is catalyzing more than $620,000 of co-investment from Bey Seddo and a loan of $5M loan from Ecobank Senegal.