USDA Under Secretary visits NCBA CLUSA Senegalese millet processing plant

Alexis Taylor USDA Under SecretaryAlexis Taylor USDA Under SecretarySeydou Deme (NCBA CLUSA) and Alexis Taylor (USDA Under Secretary) visit with Salimata Sidibé the President of the Millet Processing Unit and Pape Sondé Diop, the Mayor

(September 9, 2015)

Welcomed by the chief of Gandiaye Municipality, Deputy Under Secretary for the USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service Alexis Taylor and USDA Senegal staff visited an NCBA CLUSA Senegalese millet processing plant in late August, noting the first time a foreign authority has visited the site.

Part of a tour visiting USDA funded field projects, the visit to the millet processing plant in in Gandiaye, Senegal included speeches by dignitaries, a tour of the production process, and a drum session led by the son of Yande Codou Séne, a local cultural legend.

The millet processing plant is run by 15 women in Gandiaye, who established the plant in 2012 as part of USDA and NCBA CLUSA’s first millet value chain project in Senegal (MVCP). The Gandiaye plant women were part of the 9,000 farmers and producers trained in millet production and marketing services from 2009 – 2013.

NCBA CLUSA’s current USDA millet business services project (MBSP) builds on that initial project by focusing on developing processing systems, improving production quality, post-harvest handling, and expanding millet trade through public-private partnerships. This second phase millet project is expected to sell over 1,400 tons of millet on the market and improve millet production for over 42,000 hectares of land.

With $9.6 million in programmatic funds, MBSP almost doubles NCBA CLUSA’s USDA funding for millet value chains in Senegal and will be implemented through 2017.

The guests took a tour of the plant, saw demonstrations of the millet processing circuit and tasted the finished product for sale.



Cooperative sector in Cambodia key to economic development

cambodia-500 249d4cambodia-500 249d4Dr. Ty Sokhun, Secretary of State for Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, speaks at NCBA CLUSA's reception last week.


(September 1, 2015)

NCBA CLUSA hosted senior representatives from Cambodia’s government, the United Nations, regional USAID leadership and active development organizations at a reception in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, last week to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the country's economic development.

Amy Coughenour, NCBA CLUSA's COO for International Development, and Sam Filiaci, NCBA CLUSA's regional director for Southeast Asia, provided an overview of NCBA CLUSA's successful international programs in sustainable agriculture, nutrition and agribusiness in Southeast Asia and around the world.

During the event, Coughenour invited participants to exchange ideas and discuss opportunities on how Cambodia can increase economic opportunities in agriculture for farmers—including women and youth—expand market and finance linkages, and strengthen the cooperative sector as a key player in agricultural value chains.

“We are excited to see Cambodia’s focus on growing its agribusiness in partnership with the cooperative sector. Now is a great time to share our successes in the region and around the world and to explore new partnerships here in Cambodia,” Coughenour said.

Investing in the agricultural sector is a priority for Cambodia, Dr. Ty Sokhun, Cambodia's Secretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said at the event. “These investments are essential not only to ensure the achievement of food and nutritional security and poverty alleviation, but also the revitalization of rural societies and inter-connections within a rapidly-changing world," Sokhun said.

In partnership with donors and the private sector, NCBA CLUSA’s programs in Southeast Asia have created and supported profitable business activities through a network of farmers, cooperatives, processors, financial institutions and exporters. NCBA CLUSA’s global trading partner, Cooperative Business International (CBI), and its regional partners are the largest buyers, processors and exporters of quality assured and internationally accredited specialty coffees and spices in Asia, sourcing products for businesses like Starbucks and McCormick and Frontier spices, just to name a few. 

NCBA CLUSA’s accomplishments in the region over the past 35 years have significantly increased incomes and economic opportunities for farmers in 18 countries from Indonesia and East Timor, Africa and Latin America through sustainable cooperative businesses.

The August 28 reception was attended by senior representatives of Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, agribusiness leaders in Cambodia, NGOs active in the agriculture and natural resources sectors in Cambodia, United Nations agencies including FAO and WFP, and prominent donors to the agriculture sector in Cambodia including ADB, USAID and others.


Impact of Fairtrade certification on producers and consumers explored in NCBA CLUSA webinar

fairtrade-logo-coffee-web 01aa7fairtrade-logo-coffee-web 01aa7

(September 1, 2015)

What is behind Fairtrade certification and how does it impact producers, cooperatives and consumers? To answer these questions, NCBA CLUSA hosted representatives from Fairtrade America, Equal Exchange and Guatemala-based FECCEG Coffee Cooperative last week for a webinar on how Fairtrade certification benefits smallholder farmers and cooperatives, builds a responsible food supply chain, and guides consumer buying decisions.

Moderated by NCBA CLUSA Senior Program Manager Emily Varga, the webinar also explored how consumer perception of fair trade practices is shaping the marketplace.

The August 26 webinar came on the heels of the U.S. launch of FECCEG Coffee Cooperative’s Kishé brand, a Fairtrade-certified specialty coffee grown by smallholder farmers in the highlands of Guatemala.

Nidia Gómez, commercial manager for FECCEG and a webinar panelist, said consumers who buy Kishé coffee and similar products are “not just supporting a vague idea—they’re directly supporting smallholder farmer independence.”

Unlike the traditional trade system that favors the most powerful—often at the expense of the farmer—the Fairtrade model sees producers as equal participants in trade and is designed to encourage smallholder farmers to work together in cooperatives, leverage their selling power and earn sustainable livelihoods, said webinar panelist Tia Loftsgard.

As the director of Business Development for Fairtrade America, Loftsgard’s role is to introduce U.S. companies to small producers and educate American retailers and consumers about the direct impact their decision to support Fairtrade products has on farmers.

These efforts, coupled with the pioneering efforts of NCBA CLUSA member Equal Exchange, go far to provide clarity on which companies are truly doing “good and meaningful work,” as opposed to “green-washing” their image, said Carly Kadlec, a green coffee buyer for Equal Exchange.

Founded in 1986, Equal Exchange predates certification systems. The worker co-op was integral to “developing the idea of fair trade and using the mechanisms of trade to create a more just and democratic world,” Kadlec said.

Since then, demand for ethically-produced goods among consumers has steadily increased, Loftsgard said, In fact, a recent Neilson study found that products with sustainability claims on the packaging—such as the Fairtrade mark—are growing at twice the rate of generic products. And when companies actively market the impact ethical trade practices are having at the producer level, market growth spikes even higher, she said.

Introduced in 2002, the Fairtrade mark is now trusted by 60 percent of U.S. consumers, making it the most trusted ethical certification logo in the nation, Loftsgard said. The mark currently appears on close to 30,000 products sold in more than 120 countries, identifying coffee, chocolate and other products that meet the ethical, environmental and economic standards set by Fairtrade International.

These standards range from adhering to the United Nations’ labor code to ensuring the participation of women and not planting GMO seeds or using banned pesticides. Fairtrade International gives newcomer co-ops five years to fully adopt the standards. Because Fairtrade International requires the same standards globally, Loftsgard said, consumers can easily understand what Fairtrade certification means.

With all the sustainability claims currently in the marketplace, becoming a responsible consumer can feel overwhelming, Kadlec said, but coffee—a product most Americans regularly consume—is a good way to begin incorporating ethical choices into everyday life.

“Change doesn’t happen with everything all at once, but coffee is a great entry point to becoming a more conscious consumer. Fairtrade certification makes it easy to figure out which companies are doing awesome, sustainable work and really impacting the entire supply chain,” she said.

To view a list of upcoming NCBA CLUSA webinars, click here.

In Niger, NCBA CLUSA partners with World Food Programme to build resilience


(August 15, 2015)

A new partnership between NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Enhanced Resilience (REGIS-ER) project and the World Food Programme (WFP) in Niger is bolstering efforts to reduce food insecurity in Sabon Machi.

A rural commune in southern Niger, Sabon Machi is home to a particularly vulnerable population where United Nations agencies, the Government of Niger, NGOs and other actors are pooling resources to build resilience.

“This concerted effort combines the resources of WFP and REGIS-ER to increase the number and scope of activities that have a sustainable impact on improving the resilience of the target community,” said Amath Diop, NCBA CLUSA’s deputy chief of party for REGIS-ER.

Located about 30 miles north of the regional capital of Maradi, residents of Sabon Machi battle chronic food insecurity triggered by acute rainwater runoff, soil erosion, reduced water availability and decreased agricultural productivity. An especially poor harvest in late 2014 prompted this partnership between NCBA CLUSA and the WFP.

The partnership aims to increase the resilience of 1,829 vulnerable households in 48 villages, reaching a total of 12,803 people. Specifically, REGIS-ER and WFP will reclaim more than 9,000 acres of degraded farmland, introduce the practice of conservation farming on more than 400 acres and support the planting of 68 home gardens.

The partnership has already conducted community-led total sanitation activities in 17 villages, which constructed 425 latrines, rehabilitated five wells, drilled four boreholes and offered basic hygiene training. REGIS-ER and WFP have launched 50 mother-to-mother support groups and five “safe space” clubs for teenaged girls.

The partnership is also supporting the traditional practice of habbanayé, in which initial livestock are provided to a beneficiary by the project, while the livestock's offspring are later distributed to other beneficiaries. NCBA CLUSA provided a breed of red goat that reproduces quickly, enabling vulnerable communities to build assets over a short period of time.

REGIS-ER and WFP are also enlisting local governmental officials to help propel project success. Harounda Dan Fadji, mayor of Sabon Machi, demonstrated his personal commitment by devoting five acres of his own land to produce peanuts, millet and cowpea for seed.

“The yields were so impressive that people throughout the commune considered it worthwhile to collaborate with the project,” Fadji told local project staff.

“[REGIS-ER] has changed the lives of people in our community and is now increasing its impact, thanks to this partnership with the World Food Programme,” he added.

REGIS-ER is part of USAID’s “Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced” (RISE) Initiative, which is committed to reducing the vulnerability of target populations in the Sahel region. This five-year, $70 million project addresses the root causes of chronic vulnerability in Niger and Burkina Faso, while promoting economic resilience. REGIS-ER is empowering local communities with the tools and knowledge necessary to adapt to climate change, withstand food crises and improve nutrition, especially among children under five. The project is expected to impact an estimated 2 million beneficiaries by its conclusion in 2018.

NCBA CLUSA hosts leaders of India's National Federation of State Cooperative Banks

indian-delegation-500 32117indian-delegation-500 32117Visitors representing India's National Federation of State Cooperative Banks with NCBA CLUSA President and CEO Mike Beall in the Cooperative Library at NCBA CLUSA headquarters, which houses some of the oldest works on cooperatives.

(August 25, 2015)

On a two-week trip to visit their credit union and cooperative bank counterparts around the U.S., leaders of Indian cooperative banks and the National Federation of State Cooperative Banks visited NCBA CLUSA headquarters this week.

During a discussion of the gap between financial sector co-ops and their non-financial counterparts, it became clear that getting cooperative capital into credit unions and cooperative banks is a common challenge for both countries.

“Co-ops need access to capital,” said Mike Beall, NCBA CLUSA president and CEO. Getting the co-op sector to choose credit unions over commercial banks not only supports cooperation among cooperatives (Cooperative Principle 6), but is beneficial for all, Beall said.

If non-financial co-ops shifted 50 percent of their deposits to credit unions rather than depositing in commercial banks over the next decade, the U.S. co-op sector has the potential to earn $2.2 billion more as a whole, according to a recent report by the Filene Research Institute

The delegation also discussed youth perception of cooperatives and touched on the International Cooperative Alliance’s Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade.

NCBA CLUSA has a long history of cooperative work in India. The organization's international work in the country began more than 60 years ago. In 1953, NCBA CLUSA responded to requests from cooperative leaders in India for assistance in strengthening their co-ops. NCBA CLUSA’s work had its most transformative impact in the dairy and fertilizer sectors, yielding two companies that are today among the world’s largest in their respective industries.




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