ACDI/VOCA Hails G8's $20 Billion Promise to Fight Hunger
ACDI/VOCA applauds the recent G8 nations' promise to commit $20 billion over three years to reduce hunger worldwide and bolster agricultural development in some of the world's poorest communities.
"The $20 billion initiative to build farmers' capacity to develop agricultural productivity and meet growing food needs will go a long way toward ensuring that fewer people are food insecure and hungry," says Carl Leonard, ACDI/VOCA president.
"The recent groundswell of commitment to agriculture and rural development is overdue but truly welcome," Leonard adds. "The food crisis starkly illustrates how desperate and vulnerable poor people are. Since the vast majority of the world’s poor have agriculture-based livelihoods, broad-based agricultural development is the only route to sustainable food security."More.
Appropriations Bills To Boost Funds for Ag, Food Security and Co-ops
The Senate approved its version of the FY10 State-Foreign Ops Appropriations Bill on July 9, with even higher levels of funding for agriculture and food security than the House. The Senate subcommittee included $1.2 billion for agriculture and food security, while the House bill provided $1 billion. (The president’s request was $1.35 billion.) Presidential and congressional leadership, along with robust and concerted advocacy, were keys to reversing a long trend of underfunding in this important area of development assistance. The House and Senate will likely confer on the bill in late summer or early fall. The Senate bill mentioned the importance of private voluntary organizations, such as ACDI/VOCA, as well as cooperatives, and directed that $10 million "shall be made available" for Cooperative Development Programs within USAID's Office of Private and Voluntary Cooperation. Dr. Susan Schram, vice president of outreach and cooperative services for ACDI/VOCA, co-chairs the Coalition for Agricultural Development along with former USAID Administrator Peter McPherson, and President Carl Leonard chairs the Alliance for Global Food Security. Both groups were instrumental in stimulating and supporting these increases and worked closely with InterAction, Bread for the World, private sector companies and other like-minded groups to accomplish this historic goal.
Community Health Volunteers Educate Mothers and Children in Remote Islands
After receiving training from ACDI/VOCA, 45 members of community health action teams (CHATs) conducted Tumpukan Na!, or small group action sessions, in Sibutu Island in Tawi-Tawi, to educate mothers and children on immunization, hygiene and nutrition.
The sessions corrected health-related misconceptions through culturally sensitive explanations in order for health workers to provide immunization, vitamin A supplementation and deworming services to children. As a result, 77 children who missed their regular immunization schedules because of prior caregiver resistance were fully immunized, and 144 pregnant and lactating women were given iron folate after their concerns were addressed. Almost all (99 percent) of the 12- to 71-month-old children were given vitamin A, increasing the health workers’ rate of success from last year’s 98 percent. More.
ACDI/VOCA Helps Launch Smallholder Commercial Hub in Tanzania
On June 8, over 150 people attended the launch of a smallholder farmer commercial hub at Mailer Farm in Usa River, Tanzania. Erected under ACDI/VOCA's Smallholder Horticulture Outgrower Promotion (SHOP) project with partners Kilmo Impact Tanzania (KIT) and Homegrown, the hub will be a commercially sustainable enterprise serving to connect smallholder Tanzanian farmers to export markets. "Since October 2007, SHOP has been collaborating with KIT, a commercial farmers' association, to produce export vegetables with MVG, a smallholder farmer group of outgrowers," ACDI/VOCA-SHOP Chief of Party Alexander Fernando said. "The hub is the legacy of our intervention in the horticulture industry in Tanzania."
AMFI to Host Central Asia Microfinance Conference
The Association of Micro Finance Institutions (AMFI) in Kyrgyzstan will host the 2009 Regional Conference of Microfinance Associations in Central Asia, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on September 10-11. The conference will be supported by USAID/Central Asia Microfinance Alliance (CAMFA II), German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO). The theme of the conference is "Adopting Technologies for Success." It will be oriented to the issues related to ongoing construction and innovations in microfinance systems, an increase in access to financial services and the development of microfinance institutions for small business and the general population.
ICA, UN Celebrate International Cooperative Movement
July 4, 2009, marked the International Co-operative Alliance's 87th International Co-operative Day and the United Nations' 15th International Day of Co-operatives, which falls on the first Saturday in July each year. This day honors cooperatives' role in driving economic development while promoting ethical values through participatory decision making and pooling knowledge and resources to help members live better lives. This year's theme of "Driving Global Recovery through Co-operative Enterprise" highlights the present opportunity for co-ops to serve their members during the global economic downturn and drive economic recovery. Each year ACDI/VOCA celebrates this day, commemorating our 1963 establishment by the U.S. farmer cooperative community and reaffirming our commitment to the importance of sound cooperative business practice.
CredAgro Receives Five-diamond Rating from MIX Market
MIX Market awarded CredAgro a five-diamond rating—its highest qualification for microfinance institutions—for transparency, quality and reliability of microfinance information. MIX Market is a global, web-based, microfinance information platform. ACDI/VOCA established CredAgro, a nonbank credit institution, in July 2000 with funding from USAID to respond to the lack of capital available to small- and medium-scale farmers in rural Azerbaijan. By the end of the program in 2006, CredAgro had disbursed over $30 million in loans to more than 5,000 clients and generated a combined $1.6 million in gross interest receipts. Today it is a leading MFI in Azerbaijan, serving over 13,700 clients in 30 rayons with a gross portfolio of over $50 million. More.
Project Success: Wheat Harvest Jumps Sevenfold in Northern Rwanda
A cooperative in Rwanda's Northern Province celebrated a record-breaking wheat crop this year, making the national Umuganura harvest celebration a true festival of firsts. Cooperative Mixte de Buyoga (COMIXBU), which partnered with ACDI/VOCA in a wheat development project in Rulindo district, increased its wheat production from 3 metric tons in 2008 to a record 21.4 metric tons this year. The collaboration between ACDI/VOCA and COMIXBU and their related achievement in wheat production is an example of the type of investments Rwanda must make in agricultural development to realize the country's Vision 2020 Plan for economic development and poverty reduction. More.
Secretary of State Clinton: Attack Hunger at Its Roots
At a June 11 State Department ceremony, Gebisa Ejeta was named the 2009 World Food Prize Laureate by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Dr. Ejeta, a Purdue University plant scientist from Ethiopia, has developed sorghum hybrids resistant to drought and the devastating Striga weed. These varieties have dramatically increased the production of one of the world’s five principal grains and enhanced the food supply of hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Secretary Clinton said,"This morning, 1 billion people around the world woke up hungry and tonight, they will go to sleep hungry. This issue has not gotten the attention it deserves, and it is a personal priority of mine and of the Obama Administration to address the challenge of chronic hunger with a very high level of focus and dedication." More.
ACDI/VOCA Attends Global Summit for Women
Sally Iadarola (pictured, left), managing director of the community development practice area, attended the 19th annual Global Summit for Women, May 14-16, in Santiago, Chile. Among the over 600 attendees was Chile's president, Michelle Bachelet, the vice president of Vietnam, and a vice mayor of Beijing (next year's summit will be held in Beijing). The event was sponsored by IBM, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, UNDP and the World Bank, among others. The summit's main activity was sharing practical skills, strategies and programs. It hosted a women's expo, which featured products from places like Chile, Egypt, Nigeria and India, among others; networking breakfasts where participants met and made contacts; and sessions where business and enterprise-building skills were honed. More.
Pilot Land Data Collection on Public Display in East Timor
On June 5, Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato and the director of the National Directorate for Land, Property and Cadastral Services (DNTPSC), Antonio Verdial de Sousa, launched the public display of the pilot land data collection areas in Liquica and Manatuto, East Timor. This initiative is supported by the USAID-funded Strengthening Property Rights in Timor-Leste (SPRTL) project, which is implemented by ACDI/VOCA and Associates in Rural Development, Inc. Known locally as "Ita Nia Rai" ("Our Land"), the program is a 5-year, $10 million project that supports the DNTPSC and the Ministry of Justice in developing a land administration framework. More.
ACDI/VOCA's Tomson Okot-Chono (pictured) was one of 55 individuals selected from 19 countries to receive the 2009 Cochran Fellowship. Okot-Chono is a post-harvest handling and marketing officer for ACDI/VOCA's USAID PL-480 Title II Program in Uganda. As part of the Cochran Fellowship Program (CFP), Okot-Chono attended two weeks of intensive training in post-harvest technology of horticultural crops at the University of California, Davis. More.
AMFA Releases 2009 Azerbaijan MFI Assessment
The Azerbaijan Micro-Finance Association (AMFA) has released its 2009 "Assessment of Microfinance Impact and Social Performance of MFIs in Azerbaijan." The report's development was supported by ACDI/VOCA's SME Support for Financial Sector Development Project, which was funded by USAID. To read the report, click here.
North Caucasus Rural Farmers Attend Cooperatives Seminar
From June 17-19, 27 farmers from Russia's North Caucasus region gathered in Grozny, Chechen Republic, for a seminar facilitated by ACDI/VOCA and the International Rescue Committee entitled, "How to Start an Agricultural Consumer Cooperative." The seminar was part of the USAID-funded Vperyod project, which works to expand economic opportunities in conflict-affected areas of the North Caucasus. All the participants have recently registered, or are in the process of registering, consumer cooperatives for milk, homemade cheese or vegetables. The seminar was based on an interactive training module that covers the conceptual and legal aspects of establishing rural consumer cooperatives. The training module was developed by ACDI/VOCA and its Russian partner, the Rural Credit Cooperatives Development Foundation. More.
NASFAM Wins Yara Prize for Fighting Hunger in Africa
On July 22, ACDI/VOCA released a statement from President Carl Leonard on the award of the international Yara Prize for a Green Revolution in Africa to the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM). Leonard said, "We congratulate NASFAM for the Yara Prize honor and add our accolades. Better than most we recognize the value of our partner’s more than 10 years of service in Malawi. NASFAM has helped to promulgate smallholders—most of whom are women—as central to solving some of Africa’s most daunting development problems, and, as the award citation makes clear, pioneer effective solutions." Click to learn more and read the full statement.
Guenette Presents at Leland International Hunger Fellows Training
Paul Guenette, technical managing director of ACDI/VOCA’s agribusiness practice area, spoke yesterday about ACDI/VOCA's innovative approach to food security to the newest class of Mickey Leland International Hunger Fellows. Guenette discussed the linkages between nutrition, food security, and economic development, and demonstrated how agricultural interventions that increase productivity and improve farmers’ access to markets can lead to a decrease in malnutrition. Using the USAID-funded Kenya Maize Development Program and Ethiopia Pastoralist Livestock Marketing Initiative as examples, Guenette explained how ACDI/VOCA projects increase rural household income through the effective use of public-private partnerships, market linkages and innovative financial services. More.
U.S. Roasters Purchase Coffee from ACDI/VOCA-Colombia Beneficiary
From the hills of Monserrate, a community of 28 families in Huila, Colombia, smallholder farmer Gabriel Gil's high-quality coffee beans are now shipped to two U.S.-based specialty roasters thanks to ACDI/VOCA's USAID Specialty Coffee Program and Atlas Coffee Importers, LLC. The two roasters, Victrola Coffee and Hammer Coffee, both based in the state of Washington, were introduced to Gil’s beans at a 2008 cupping contest held in Monserrate by ACDI/VOCA and Atlas. Gil (pictured) comes from a coffee-growing family, but for many years his family was forced to work on other crops and activities for security reasons. However, in 2004, Gil began working with ACDI/VOCA through our USAID-funded Specialty Coffee Program, which provides beneficiaries with specialized training in growing, harvesting and post-harvest handling to create superior-quality beans.
Ghana: $19.5 million Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement project funded by USAID to transform Ghana's agricultural sector through increased competitiveness in domestic, regional and international markets.
Iraq: To provide assistance to a local microfinance institution, which has been supported by ACDI/VOCA for three past U.S. government-funded Access to Credit projects.
Philippines: $5.4 million CoCoPal project funded by USDA to improve the farming capacity of 25,000 smallholder farmers in targeted Mindanao provinces.
Colombia: Project funded by Colombia's Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of high-quality, differentiated coffee producers in specialty coffee markets.
Long-term Overseas and Consultant Positions: We are looking to fill the following positions:
We need volunteers on an ongoing basis for short-term (typically two to three weeks) assignments who have the following expertise:
tropical horticulture (bananas, mangos, pineapple, cassava and palm oil)
post-harvest commodity grades and standards
farm equipment dealers
In general, we are actively seeking specialists in agriculture, cooperative development, horticulture or small and medium-sized enterprise development who are fluent in French. If interested, please update or create your e-Profile here.
Current volunteer opportunities include the following:
ACDI/VOCA regrets to announce the passing of a central figure in our relationship with Ethiopia, and a giant of the country's cooperative movement who helped put Ethiopian coffee on today's coffeephile map. Ato Werqu Mekasha, fondly known as Gashe (an honorific meaning "sir") Werqu to Ethiopian staff, recently passed away in Addis Ababa. He served as our country director from late 1994 until he retired in 2006. ACDI/VOCA President Carl Leonard said, "Werqu’s lifelong mission to modernize the agriculture sector in Ethiopia showed in everything he did, and he always displayed a deep appreciation for the smallholder farmer....Werqu was truly a giant in ACDI/VOCA's Ethiopia program and will be missed by all of us here as a dear friend and colleague."