Second Phase Refugee Transformative Program LaunchedDigital Platform Integrates Farmers In Agriculture Value Chain

Addis Ababa: The second phase of the PROSPECTS partnership program, a ground-breaking initiative designed to strengthen the resilience, self-reliance, and inclusion of forcibly displaced persons (FDPs) as well as host communities in Ethiopia, has been launched today.

The Government of the Netherlands, along with Ethiopia’s Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS), line ministries, humanitarian and development agencies announced the launching.

Speaking about the accomplishments of the first phase of the program, Netherlands Ambassador to Ethiopia Henk Jan Bakker underscored the program’s transformative potential.

According to him, more than 20,000 out of school children and young people gained access to learning opportunities through Accelerated Learning and Skills Development Programs.

Also, 20,000 jobs were created, child protection services enhanced for 60,000 minors, and birth certificates issued to 26,000 children.

In this phase backed by 800 million Euro in Dutch funding across eight countries, PROSPECT
S aims to equip youth with job-ready skills, catalyze economic opportunities, fortify child protection systems, and improve access to vital services and infrastructure.

Lauding Ethiopia’s refugee-friendly policies and integration efforts, Ambassador Bakker emphasized PROSPECTS core mission of investing in the potential of all individuals, irrespective of their status as refugees, IDPs, or host community members.

”I would like to take this moment to thank the Ethiopian government for its welcoming policy to refugees; and specifically for its pledges to transform selected refugee camps into sustainable urban settlements, and to include refugees into existing national systems,” he noted.

For the ambassador, collaboration remains pivotal to ensuring a meaningful impact, necessitating continued cooperation between donors, implementing partners, and the Ethiopian government.

Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) Director-General, Teyiba Hassen, on her part reaffirmed Ethiopia’s commitment to the Global Compact
on Refugees.

She further added the need for clearly defined roles, robust communication, and stronger RRS-partner cooperation to address gaps identified in the first phase of the project.

As the expanded PROSPECTS partnership takes flight, Ethiopia takes a significant stride towards empowering refugees, IDPs, and host communities, fostering self-reliance, and paving the way for a more prosperous future for all.

The director-general further underscored the urgency of bolstering support for host nations and refugees amid a burgeoning forced displacement crisis.

Ethiopia is the third largest refugee-hosting country with refugees mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Stakeholders in the Kenya Rural Transformation Centers Digital Platform (KRTCDP) project have for the last one year been collecting critical views from farmers on three key value chains of dairy, Irish potatoes and maize.

The project funded by African Development Bank (AfDB)project was launched a year ago and is being spearheaded by the Cooperative University of Kenya (CUK) to empower and integrate smallholder farmers and related stakeholders in the agriculture value chain into a digital platform.

Speaking during a validation workshop, the CUK Vice Chancellor Prof. Kamau Ngamau said farmers and farmer organizations such as co-operatives stand to benefit the most in this project as the information, they access from the digital platform will enable them access quality inputs, enjoy extension services, financing facilities, and broaden the market reach.

‘Farmers and farmer organizations in the pilot Counties of Narok, Nakuru, Baringo and Nyandarua will be able to make informed decisions and generate more retu
rns from their economic activities as this is a model example of the impact of research and innovation on a people’ , he said .

Prof. Ngamau explained that together with the consultants in the four counties, they have come up with a report that will be validated in the meeting.

The three year project that was launched last year , he said will be able to see farmers access information on a platform on inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agrovets, meteorological data and also weather partners so that they can know when they need to plant.

‘Through the digital platform, farmers will also get extension services, access to credit and even markets We hope that we will be able to have the financial service providers also coming on board so that a farmer can be able to access and we are working with cooperatives who bring farmers together’, he said

He applauded the input providers from the Ministries in the counties who have come together with the report and information to be validated.

Prof. Ngamau gave
an example of the dairy sector noting that if they can be a big enough number coming together they can even go ahead and have their own processing plant and they sell finished products and also value add in terms of yoghurt and other dairy products.

Post-harvest losses account for in some cases over 40 percent of the total production and therefore the VC said adding that by farmers coming together in a cooperative, they can then be able to even set up facilities such as storage facilities for their Irish potatoes stemming the losses.

Prof. Ngamau said once the validation of the reports is done, the developer of the system will now embark on working with the user requirements that have been identified, have that platform worked on and then they will be able to pilot the whole system in the pilot counties.

‘The project is three years long, so by the end of the three years we should have it up and running’, the VC confirmed.

The Deputy Commissioner for Co-operative Development Simon Mburia said as a corpora
te sector, they are going to be the biggest beneficiaries of this program.

‘From Sessional Paper No. 4 of 2020 on National Cooperative Policy on promoting co-operatives for socio-economic transformation, we identified the documentation of cooperative data as one of the biggest challenges in the development of cooperatives in the country. And one of the suggestions or recommendations from the policy paper was to establish digital information centers in the country that will facilitate knowledge sharing and also information flow’, he explained .

This venture will be very important to the farmer because one, It will be very easy now to provide the required inputs to the farmer through the cooperatives.

‘ If one requires a certain type of fertilizer, it will be very easy now for a cooperative to acquire the right type of fertilizer instead of just acquiring any fertilizer and distributing regardless of need, avoiding wastage.

He acknowledged that in the past, due to lack of information of the individual membe
rs but with this platform targeting cooperatives it is going to be easy even when it comes to matters of payment that should be directed directly to the farmer and not to the cooperative.

‘The cooperative will just be a record keeper and an organizer, aggregating but farmer issues, money issues will be directed to the farmer from the corporate society’s account to the farmer’s account and with the currently technology, the farmer is able to communicate to the authorities and that will assist the policy formulation the university is doing

The cooperative has a very big role and if one looks at the BETA agenda, the sector has been given a very big responsibility as an enabler to achieve the four pillars, health, agriculture, manufacturing and ICT’, Mburia said .

Joseph Naimodu , a dairy farmer from Narok County said the platform will assist them in accessing information about markets and the prices that are available in the market.

‘Farmers have been incurring a lot of losses because their produce is usual
ly ready to go to the market, but then they don’t know where to take their produce. At the same time, brokers have been taking advantage of the lack of information to come in and cheat farmers and give them poor prices:’ , he added.

Farmers in turn ,Naimodu said, continue to suffer big losses and cannot progress well in their farming activities. This platform would address that in the sense that we have one platform where you can use your phone to access any information, on which you could possibly sell your products at the best available prices in the market and also information about who is interested in your product.

Risper Chepkonga, CEC Agriculture, Livestock and Blue Economy -Baringo County said the importance of digitalization in Africa really helps in making informed decisions.

‘This program from Cooperative University, the 3-year program, is going to really assist us in terms of making informed decisions, especially even on the substantive program, connecting the weather reports. the markets th
at are available to the farmers in terms of the size of land, the mechanization, when to get the products to the market in terms of the transport network or even identifying the stakeholders in the industry’, she said .

Chepkonga noted that what Digitization in agricultural activities means to other government projects is looking at what the amount of fertilizers they have , the number of farmers , the acreage that is required because then they are able to know, plan and also distribute farm inputs across board and in good time

She acknowledged the Kenya Rural Transformation Centers Digital Platform (KRTCDP) project noting that Baringo will benefit in all the three-value chain in it as they grow Maize, are in Dairy and also in Irish potato farming

Data and digital solutions play an important enabling role in Agriculture transformation and can support the sector to achieve its primary objective of increasing small-scale farmers, pastoralists, and fisher folk incomes for approximately 3.3 million households
and impact about 15 million Kenyans

Source: Kenya News Agency