At different points in time, various regions globally have experienced agricultural revolutions where food output has grown exponentially, fuelling economic growth and supporting expanding populations. In much of Africa however, this is yet to occur.
Agricultural production is often either geared towards the production of traditional crops low in nutritional value, or towards exporting cash crops like cotton or sugarcane to Europe or beyond, rather than meeting the needs of local people. Farmers in many areas of Africa lack access to quality products that they trust will improve their yields and incomes, as well as knowledge about improved farming techniques and the nutritional value of what they are growing.
Another reason for the lack of certain agricultural activity in parts of Africa is that for suppliers of highly nutrient products, extending their supply chain of these products to remote rural areas is often unprofitable. At the same time, communities as a whole lack understanding of, and access to, key nutrition and health practices, compounding the problems of malnutrition and under nutrition (not getting the energy you need from food).
The Senegal based USAID | Yaajeende (Yaajeende) programme is recognised in international development circles for its unique ability to successfully integrate nutrition development with agricultural programmes on a large scale. During a 2013 visit to Senegal, Yaajeende was showcased to President Obama by Papa Sene, Senior Technical Advisor, at the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA.
Yaajeende aims to improve nutrition in communities while increasing the incomes of local entrepreneurs, known as Community Based Solution Providers (CBSPs). Yaajeende connects these locally elected CBSPs to suppliers of quality agricultural, health and nutrition products. CBSPs are then trained on how to sell these products based on the needs of their communities in addition to commercial activities such as making loan applications to local banks.
To date, approximately 500 CBSPs have earned an income from selling products and services, including seeds, fertiliser, machinery to till soil, nutritionally enriched flour, and livestock vaccinations. The CBSP network is dramatically improving the agricultural output of farmers, and the nutrition of their communities as a whole.
We have been working with Yaajeende since 2014 to scale the CBSP network across Senegal and in time, Africa. After assessing the networks ability to scale, we designed a bespoke social franchise business model, branded as CultiVert, which is currently being piloted in Matam and Bakel, areas in the North Eastern part of Senegal. The ultimate vision is to replicate the impact of CultiVert across Senegal and Africa, improving the health and financial livelihoods of millions.
Hapsatou Kah, is a teacher and entrepreneur from Senegal who’s fighting to end malnutrition in her community. Hapsatou is a CBSP and now a CultiVert franchisee. President Obama recently highlighted her story as being “just one of many that’s a testament to what’s possible when we work together – governments, multilateral institutions, the private sector, and civil society.”