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 44 agricultural firms and six major cooperative federations working with more than 35,700 smallholder farmers, 57% 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 collaborated with NCBA CLUSA’s Feed the Future Kawolor Resilience Project 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 project to understand the challenges faced by these groups in undertaking commercial horticulture. In the first two years, the six hubs have grown to include more than 22,250 women and 4,500 youth.
To date, the project has facilitated more than $15.5M in agricultural financing for hub actors and established nine PSEs using $1.2M in co-investment grants that have leveraged more than $7.5M in private sector co-investments in hub activities and infrastructure. Smallholders have marketed more than 36,000 MT of horticultural produce at the hubs worth $16M in the first three 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: optionality, innovation, variation, learning, and trust.
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.
- 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 Bay 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 Bay Seddo and a loan of $5M loan from Ecobank Senegal.