Obama’s African Tour to Highlight Food Security Initiatives

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June 27, 2013

Contact: John Torres
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Obama’s African Tour to Highlight Regional Food Security Initiatives
NCBA CLUSA’s Nutrition-Led Agriculture Successful in Combating Malnutrition

(WASHINGTION, DC) – Arriving Wednesday, June 26, President Barack Obama’s first stop on his African tour is to Senegal, where his visit highlights the importance of his Administration’s focus on its flagship Feed the Future initiative. NCBA CLUSA is the lead implementer of the first Feed the Future project and shares the Administration’s concern for the Sahel region of Africa where the United Nations reports more than 10 million people are food insecure, of which 2.5 million suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition.

“Food security has been one of our (Obama Administration’s) key development priorities, in which we’ve brought together the international community as well as the private sector behind approaches that strengthen African capacity in developing agricultural sectors that better feed the populations,” said Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor, during a White House briefing on Obama’s African schedule.

According to Obama’s schedule, on Friday June 28 he will have the opportunity to see the results that are being generated by this critical implementation. “President (Obama) will join an event that brings together private sector leaders and people from the agricultural sector in Senegal and across West Africa, and he will hear about the efforts that are being made to enhance food security…” stated Rhodes.

NCBA CLUSA launched the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded “Yaajeende” (meaning “abundance”) food security project in November 2010. Since then the project has demonstrated a 22% increase in children aged 6-23 months consuming a Minimal Acceptable Diet, the World Health Organization’s measure of what is needed to ensure appropriate growth and development. This is a major milestone, not only for Feed the Future, but also for NCBA CLUSA’s Nutrition-led Agriculture’s (NLA) innovative, integrated approach that determines what crops to produce and where to produce them based on the nutritional deficiencies of that region, as well as on market and income-generation potential.

“We are directly meeting nutritional needs by combining nutrition education with improved agricultural production, increased incomes, and a focus on women as main drivers of their families’ food access and consumption,” explains Papa Sene, NCBA CLUSA’s Senegalese Senior Technical Advisor.

A USAID case study has shown that USAID|Yaajeende has also achieved a 51% increase in iodized salt use, and an average of 21 kg of vegetables consumed by beneficiaries of community and home-garden interventions. In addition, over 160,000 participants have been reached with nutrition behavior changing activities and agricultural training.

Women are a major component of the USAID|Yaajeende project, managing and farming 330 community gardens, a major feature of the NLA approach. This, along with Bio-Reclamation of Degraded Lands (BDL), helps women gain land tenure to otherwise unused land that can be cultivated back to life for food production through special farming techniques. Mother-to-Mother group training, community meals, and education on sanitation and hygiene are other important ways NCBA CLUSA is integrating ways the program is achieving improved nutritional outcomes.

Increased production and economic growth have been the hallmarks of most agricultural projects. However, solely using those measurements is not always enough to reverse malnutrition, particularly among children under 5.

“By cultivating wild foods and improved crops, including bio-fortified varieties with higher nutritional value, and by teaching women producers the importance of micronutrients, such as iodine, Vitamin A, and zinc, to their health, we are changing how the poor are producing, accessing, and consuming food,” says NCBA CLUSA’s Chief Operating Officer, Amy Coughenour Betancourt.

One of the project’s most important innovations is the development of what NCBA CLUSA has coined “Community Based Solution Providers” (CBSP)—independent agents who market and distribute agricultural and nutritional supplies and services to smallholder farmers, farmer cooperatives, and communities who are typically hard to reach and have trouble accessing suppliers and markets. To date, these agents for agriculture and nutrition have delivered services and products worth over $700,000, which is serious income in Senegal’s rural economy.

“NCBA CLUSA is dedicated to tangible, sustainable solutions to food security around the world, and engaging our membership with opportunities to help through our Farmer-to-Farmer program,” said Mike Beall, President of NCBA CLUSA. “President Obama’s visit to Senegal highlights the importance of the progress being made, in a country that has tremendous potential. NCBA CLUSA is proud to play an active role in improving the quality of the lives of the people of Senegal.”

USAID|Yaajeende is a five-year, $40 million initiative of USAID Senegal under the Feed the Future program implemented by NCBA CLUSA in partnership with Heifer International, Counterpart International, Sheladia Associates, Inc., the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA), Senegal’s National Malnutrition Prevention Unit (CLM), and hundreds of local governments, NGOs, and communities in 3 districts of Senegal.

NCBA CLUSA is a signatory to a $1 billion Food Security pledge by 33 NGO members of Interaction dedicating private resources to food security around the world. Visit www.NCBA.coop for more information.

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the apex association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization working in areas such as food security, climate-smart agriculture, and cooperative development. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector education, support, and advocacy that helps co-ops thrive. For nearly 100 years NCBA CLUSA has sought to advance and protect cooperative enterprises, highlighting the impact that cooperatives in bettering the lives of individuals and families. In the last 60 years, NCBA CLUSA has the improved economic and social well-being of millions of farmers and their families in over 100 countries.

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East Timor: President of Timor-Lesté and US Ambassador Dedicate NCBA CLUSA Supported Training Center

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June 10, 2013

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East Timor: President of Timor-Lesté and US Ambassador Dedicate NCBA CLUSA Supported Training Center

(DILI, TIMOR-LESTE) – Recognizing nearly 20 years of collaboration between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA), U.S. Ambassador Judith Fergin, along with Timor-Leste President Taur Matan Ruak, dedicated a newly built research and training center in the mountains just outside Timor-Leste’s capital city of Dili.

Web CCT Training Center OpeningWeb CCT Training Center Opening“Today we are inaugurating a facility that enable Timor-Leste's farmers to increase their productivity, raise their incomes, and benefit their families. May I express my sincere congratulations to all the organizations and people who are making the dream come true,” stated Ambassador Fergin.

This training center will accelerate the continued improvement of Timor-Leste’s coffee crops and provide instruction in cooperative learning to better educate the farmers in cooperative practices and methodologies. The 17 hectares on which the training center is built was donated by the Diocese of Dili.

The collaboration of USAID and NCBA CLUSA in 1994 brought about the first project to aid coffee farmers in the mountains of Timor-Leste, providing much needed assistance to coffee farmers to increase their incomes and provide a better quality of life for their families. Out of this project, the Cooperative Café Timor (CCT), one of the largest single employer of coffee farmers in the country, with more than 21,000 members.

“Agriculture has always been a major source of national wealth and employment for both Americans and Timorese. In both countries, the introduction of new technologies has allowed farmers to become more and more productive,” said Ambassador Fergin during the dedication. “In both countries, the productivity of our agricultural sectors has a direct impact on our citizens' health, nutrition, and incomes.“

The success of the CCT has spread as it diversified into other crops and livestock. In all of its endeavors, CCT focuses on supporting farmers to increase the quality and volume of their output and guaranteeing a market for their product.

"This wonderful center is a testament to NCBA CLUSA's long-term commitment to the farmers and people of Timor-Leste, and marks a new level of building capacity of the country's agricultural sector to grow and thrive," said Mike Beall, president of NCBA CLUSA.

Additional attendees included Reverend Bishop of Dili Alberto Ricardo da Silva, the New Zealand Ambassador to Timor-Leste Tony Fautua, USAID Director Rick Scott, Chairman of the CCT Board Amaral dos Reis, and NCBA CLUSA Regional Director Sam Filiaci.

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the apex association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector education, support, and advocacy that helps co-ops thrive. For nearly 100 years NCBA CLUSA has sought to advance and protect cooperative enterprises, highlighting the impact that cooperatives in bettering the lives of individuals and families. In the last 60 years, NCBA CLUSA has grown its international development portfolio to over $34 million of active programs in 14 countries.

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U.S. Ambassador Lauds NCBA CLUSA’s ARZIKI Project

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May 9, 2013

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Ambassador Williams Lauds NCBA CLUSA International’s ARZIKI Project as an Example for Women’s Empowerment in Food Security In Niger

(NIAMEY, NIGER) – NCBA CLUSA International hosted Ambassador Bisa Williams, U.S. Ambassador to Niger, on Friday, April 26 to tour the work being done in food security and women’s rights by the CLUSA-implemented USAID-funded Niger Food Security Project, ARZIKI.

 

NCBA_CLUSA_Niger_Arziki_ProjectAmbassador Williams shares land use title presented by Badaguichiri Mayor to the local women’s group. Ambassador Williams spent the day advocating for women’s rights to land for resiliency and food security – Nagaro Village – Badaguichiri Commune, Illela. Ambassador William’s visit, focusing largely on innovative Climate Change Adaptation techniques implemented by ARZIKI, included stops in Tahoua, Zouraré Sabara, Ibarogan, Nagaro, and Awilikiss in the Tahoua region of Niger. Since 2010, ARZIKI, a local Hausa word meaning “prosperity,” has been working across multiple sectors to increase food security across the drought-stricken Sahelian belt of southern Niger. The project focuses on rehabilitating water sources, grant application literacy, mirco-finance linkages, reclamation of bio-degraded land, livestock, and improved agriculture techniques. ARZIKI is one of the first USAID-funded projects to see success in its implementation of Climate Change Adaptation activities such as using contour stone bunds to retain rain water and natural run-off, and providing women with long-term land lease contracts to turn the reclaimed land into productive space for income generating crops.

 

Ambassador Williams spent much of the day praising this technique and the villages partaking in it saying, “I commend the initiative to provide land access to landless women through the ARZIKI project, whereby women can now rehabilitate barren land by building contour stone bunds and produce food for themselves and their families.”

Women of Niger have struggled historically for a right to their own land. This particular success is a two-fold win as bio-degraded land is being rehabilitated while simultaneously providing a space for women to grow crops to feed their families and animals, as well as for income generation.

ARZIKI Chief of Party, Tom Gardiner says of this duel success, “These women are working hard to gain secure and long-term land use tenure documents, and they are tirelessly laboring to make these lands productive once again. By constructing contour stone bunds and digging zai planting pits, they consciously engage in two water harvesting technologies proven to guarantee production of food and cash crops. The men in their villages are seeing the impact of their efforts; some are even copying the technologies on their own farming plots; others are supporting them in their work.”

Before concluding her visit, Ambassador Williams said of NCBA CLUSA International’s ARZIKI project, “You are proof of success in Environmental Management. Keep doing it and share your knowledge and skills with others.”

Headquartered in Washington, DC, NCBA CLUSA International is a trade and international development organization with programs in 10 countries including Senegal, Niger, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, El Salvador, Indonesia and Timor-Leste providing sustainable community development in agriculture and food security, community based healthcare, democracy and governance, and natural resource management.

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NCBA Echoes Congressional Concern on USDA Consolidation Proposal

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April 26, 2013

Contact: John Torres
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NCBA Echoes Congressional Concern on USDA Consolidation Proposal

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) echoes the concerns voiced on April 24 by a number of bipartisan committee members in a budget hearing with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, regarding USDA Rural Development’s “sweeping” proposal to consolidate agency programs including the Rural Cooperative Development Grant program through the Congressional appropriation process.

“NCBA is very concerned that USDA has overlooked the importance of rural cooperative development in its budget and is pleased that Rural Development officials faced many questions from members of Congress, including Chairman Robert Aderholt, about the Administration’s plan to simply merge funding of many crucial activities together without a clear strategy,” said Michael Beall, president of NCBA in a statement. “This plan removes the one funding mechanism for rural cooperative development, and we call on the Administration to rethink this important priority.”

On April 25, NCBA sent a letter to Chairman Robert Aderholt and Ranking Member Sam Farr expressing their deep concern on this matter.

In his opening statement of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies on April 24, subcommittee chairman Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) said, “As noted in the testimony, USDA is the sole federal department charged with serving the needs of Americans who live in the rural parts of this nation… As the only federal department dedicated to rural America, I have to wonder if this budget request is truly in tune with its needs, especially the needs of rural Americans with the lowest incomes.”

In an earlier statement, NCBA expressed concern that the proposed consolidation of a number of unrelated rural development programs will diminish USDA’s focus and mission of supporting the advancement of cooperatives.

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NCBA | CLUSA Tackles Climate Change through Adaptive Strategies in Environmental Management

Our Water is Our Water

Ibarogan is a parched, dusty village nestled upslope from a small ephemeral waterway in the Tahoua Region of Niger. Low annual rainfall forces farmers to rely on subsistence crops such as millet and cowpeas. With poor soil quality and little access to irrigation, Ibarogan’s farmers struggle to produce enough food to feed their families. Furthermore, Ibarogan’s population has limited access to more nutritious foods and vegetables, subsequently facing widespread malnutrition.

Recently, however, Ibarogan’s famers have begun to see significant changes in their ability to produce more and better-quality crops as a result of joining the USAID-funded Arziki Project implemented by NCBA | CLUSA International. “Arziki” means “prosperity” in the local language, Hausa, and is quickly proving to be aptly named. The project focuses on the promotion of Climate Change Adaptation (CCA), finding methods to reclaim degraded land while subsequently providing more fertile areas for farmers to plant crops.

With the help of Arziki, Ibarogan’s community is building stone check dams along the water course which passes the village. Each check dam is buttressed at the peak flow point of the structure to reduce powerful stream flows during high-intensity storms. Along the streambed, the villagers have built rock walls to reduce soil erosion and improve water infiltration. On the improved, moisture-laden land, a result of the check dams, farmers now plant Dolique, an annual edible legume crop used for humans and livestock with a cash value of $1,000 for each hectare produced.

Ibarogan_VillagersIbarogan Villagers build contour stone bunds to reclaim degraded and unused land. Ibarogan’s chief says “There is still much more to be done. Most women in our village don’t have anywhere to plant. We need to reclaim more degraded land so that women have access to cultivable plots.” USAID Arziki is helping the village do just that. Through the project’s innovative CCA program, the women of Ibarogan gain long-term land use titles and access to abandoned land where they are building contour stone bunds. Furthermore, with the help of USAID Arziki, the villagers are also building a well along the treated water course so that women can produce irrigated crops.


Ibarogan has inherited a long history of struggle facing droughts, malnutrition, and limited-to-no natural resources. With the help of USAID Arziki, the villagers are turning their lives around. The farmers’ crops are improving, and women are gaining agency to reclaim land and create fertile garden plots, reducing malnutrition and creating income-generation. With innovative CCA technical assistance, USAID Arziki is assisting Ibarogan, among many villages, in beating the odds it inherited and reclaiming its right to food, nutrition, and livelihood.

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