iDE and the EU – Creative Cooperation Delivering Results for Rural Farmers

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Today is Europe day which is about celebrating peace and unity across Europe and marking the anniversary of the historic speech made by Robert Schuman in which he declared: “World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.”

This spirit of creative cooperation is one which iDE shares. Whilst the EU was founded on the idea that European cooperation in the coal and steel markets could bring much needed security to Europe, iDE knows that harnessing the power of the market can bring real change and income security to the rural poor.

iDE has a tradition of creative cooperation and partnership with the EU on many of our projects.  Whilst the EU is opening its doors to visitors in Brussels (4th May) and Strasbourg (19th May) to celebrate Europe day, recently iDE opened its doors to an EU delegation to one of the projects that they support in Bangladesh.

Visiting a production and sales planning meeting (PSPM) in Hizla Upazilla

EU delegates at a production and sales planning meeting in Hizla

During their visit to our Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Project (ANEP), Mr Phillippe Jacques and other EU delegates were given a taste of life as a Bangladeshi smallholder farmer. The ANEP team put on demonstrations of the treadle pump (pedal powered irrigation technology), the Sex Pheromone Trap (a natural way to avoid pests) and other resource saving vegetable technologies. The officials were then invited to a nutrition education session for mothers and carers. In the peri-urban area of Barisal City, they attended a farmers’ market to see how ANEP has helped develop existing institution’s rural-urban linkage capacities. The second day of the visit involved fish harvesting at the aquaculture demonstration pond, followed by a production and sales planning meeting, catching the attention of The Daily Sattya Sangbad (pictured).

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EU visit press release in The Daily Sattya Sangbad

With the help of the EU, the success of ANEP has exceeded our expectations.  Through creativity, cooperation and a commitment to harnessing the market to achieve food security, iDE has enabled farmers to adopt new techniques, such as integrated pest management, so they can produce off-season vegetables with high nutritional value, such as okra and sweet gourd. We also have introduced carp-poly culture, so fishermen can stock multiple carp species safely because they feed at different depths.

We have further grouped 16,000 vulnerable households with children at crucial stages of development, pregnant and lactating women and those of reproductive age. These families discuss appropriate feeding practices and learn how to counsel other mothers about nutrition. This encourages community leadership and ownership of food security solutions.

The ANEP team also host fun events to initiate the supply of quality food to these vulnerable groups. Urban consumers are entertained at farmers’ markets through songs and cartoons for children around the theme of nutrition.

We are striving to increase the annual income of 51,000 households by 75 Euros by December 2014. The program should then continue to grow via sustainable market linkages. There will be a follow up event to discuss technology transfer and nutrition this summer. This will continue our successful partnership with the EU into the future, with a view to enhancing our strong strategic partnerships within Europe.

For more on our work in Asia click here

For more on our technologies and innovations click here 

For more on Europe Day (including Open Doors events) click here

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iDE UK’s New Climate Change Innovation Powered by the Nepali Sunshine!

Last week was ‘Climate Week’. Half a million people attended 3400 events making it Britain’s biggest ever climate change campaign. So, what are iDE UK doing about climate change I hear you ask?

At iDE UK we share Climate Week’s vision of inspiring action to create a sustainable future. We understand the devastating and complex challenges climate change represents to people and the planet and respond to these challenges by:

  • Designing sustainable market-based interventions that promote economic development in an environmentally sound way.
  • Designing technologies and solutions which use renewable energy.
  • Ensuring the farmers and aspiring entrepreneurs we work with are equipped to deal the consequences of changes to the climate.

Take the case of Nepal for example: Recent climatic change has shifted monsoon patterns in Nepal, restricting access to water in the dry season. Many poor, rural communities live at an altitude way above their nearest water source. Traditional pumps do not provide enough water for the community throughout the day. Women and girls are forced to battle increasingly extreme weather for their daily walk to fetch water, often a 3 hour trek. One of our Nepalese farmer clients told us, “Through carrying water many women got sick and had problems.”

Nepalese farmers carrying water

Walking to collect water can take over 3 hours

As many who have visited this beautiful country can tell you, living in these conditions is avoidable because there is abundant renewable energy available which can be used to pump water – sunshine!

Our latest innovation, Solar powered ‘multiple-use’ water pumps are designed to help entire communities in Nepal adapt to climate change and provide access to both clean domestic water and productive water for irrigation.

A happy customer

One happy villager stands by the newly installed ‘Solar MUS’

Each system can lift water up to remote communities from 100 meters below to serve 50 households (about 250 people) with water for both agriculture and as a safe drinking source.

This brings many benefits for rural communities: Farmers have been able to grow high value crops meaning each household is able to earn around £134 per year in additional income. Access to water for domestic use (worth £6,700 per year, per system) is revolutionising sanitation and hygiene. The system also greatly reduces the time women and children spend carrying water. When asked what she will do with the time she used to spend fetching water, one client said, “I’ll give more time to my children, get training for a skilled job and motivate the community”.

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High value crop production as a result of efficient water irrigation

USAID’s Shanker Khagi visited our Multiple Use Water System (MUS) site in Kaski, Nepal last week, recalling; “I very much benefited from the interaction with field staff in learning about the Integrated Climate Change Adaptation activities that are being implemented.”

Scaling Up? iDE UK expect to reach 100,000 rural poor people with this new innovation. In order to do this iDE is currently looking at institutional and financial models which can be replicated throughout Nepal. While a system to reach 250 people costs £10,700, it has a 5 year payback and a 20 year lifespan making the investment highly worthwhile for poor rural communities.

iDE UK is at the forefront of developing new products and solutions that help poor rural communities respond to climate change. For more on our work in Nepal, click on the links:

Our new video on the MUS

iDE Nepal website

BBC documentary on similar systems in Nepal

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iDE UK Laying the Path to Entrepreneurship for Bangladeshi Farmers

How iDE Bangladesh’s Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Project (ANEP) links farmers to new agricultural technologies and retailers.

Richard Rose with participants in Bangladesh

Richard Rose came to visit us at iDE UK in a whirlwind of news and progress from Bangladesh. He described the Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Project (ANEP) with well-founded pride and enthusiasm.  His team have been improving agriculture technology transfer systems for poor smallholder entrepreneurs, which has increased the production and marketing of nutritious foods.

The EU funded the project in partnership with iDE, three international centres from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) – World Fish, CIMMYT, IRRI, Save the Children International and national partners in Bangladesh – CODEC – and Nepal  – BES and CEAPRED. ANEP seeks to sustainably raise agricultural productivity and promote effective market linkages to improve the nutrition of poor rural and urban households in the south of Bangladesh and the Nepal plains.

Food insecurity and malnourishment are major issues in Bangladesh and iDE are targeting the most vulnerable groups: pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls. ANEP works with Save the Children to provide nutritional education about which foods to buy and how this impacts on the cognitive development of children. It then forges relationships between rural famers, the urban poor and agricultural industries.

To support the commercialization of small-holder agriculture ANEP hosts pre-season production planning meetings (PSPMs).  These bring buyers (output traders) and sellers of key agro-inputs such as seeds and fertilizers (inputs traders) together to plan production volumes, quality standards, schedule harvests, and aggregate produce.  The ANEP also invites market intermediaries to bring along new technologies and explain the benefits for farmers.  For example, a demonstration of how packaged maize seeds can provide a better yield than recycling seeds from last year’s crop.  Responding directly to the market’s needs in this way generates a much more reliable income, boosts business for agricultural technologies and the farmers get free training on how to increase production without using GM crops or harmful pesticides.  This enables farmers and the local private sector to benefit from greater security of sales and builds greater trust to work collaboratively together in the future.

After a good harvest it’s time for the ANEP food festivals.  These bring farmers to the slums to sell fresh produce to urban consumers with poor access to nutritious foods.  The ANEP always team think creatively about how to support local traders and strategies remain flexible in order to achieve the best outcomes.  This often involves learning quickly in the field.  In the case of the food festivals, the first of these was a traditional affair, with formal readings and attendance lists.  But this didn’t get the results the team wanted.  The festival needed to be more fun.   So the following day the ANEP team recruited entertainers to sing about health foods for urban consumers – a great success!  Women farmers came to sell their Indian Spinach, which was not sold locally, and each made the equivalent of $20 in just two hours.  For the next big event the team are considering live cooking classes and tasty food samples.

ANEP is benefitting 60,000 people in Bangladesh and Nepal.  After three years iDE will have completed their role in the project and will have facilitated relationships between the farmers, traders, and consumers which will continue in the future.

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For a summary of Agrilinks Twitter chat on serving the poorest smallhold farmers: http://agrilinks.org/blog/links-links-and-more-links-recap-askag-twitter-chat-serving-poorest-smallholder-farmers

For a video on iDE’s agricultural programs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgB65oMz3JM

For more on our work in Bangladesh: http://www.ide-bangladesh.org/

What next? Please let us know what you would like to hear about in our blog. Click on the speech bubble icon at the top of this post to comment.

iDE Cambodia Celebrates Another Successful Year!

iDE Cambodia

Last month, Rachel Pringle stopped by our London office to tell us about the latest news and successes of iDE Cambodia.

Rachel joined iDE Cambodia in March 2012, and is thoroughly enjoying her time out there! Fortunately for us, she was able to drop by our London office during her time back in the UK for Christmas to give us a fascinating update on some of the amazing work happening out in Phnom Penh.

iDE Cambodia have had a wonderfully successful year, the big success story of the year was iDE Cambodia’s ceramic water filter enterprise Hydrologic winning an Ashden Award www.ashden.org – a huge achievement which has benefited the project in numerous ways. As well as bringing in a variety of opportunities, support, networks and connections, Rachel and the team can now use their knowledge from Cambodia to work with partners to develop similar commercial operations around the world, helping with product development, commercial opportunities, technical support and sales models. In 2013, Hydrologic will also branch out to develop new products and services to improve safe water access in rural Cambodian schools.

We were delighted to hear that Hydrologic with support from Nexus Carbon for Development have had their first Voluntary Gold Standard carbon credits issued in December http://www.cdmgoldstandard.org/bringing-clean-water-to-cambodia. Two thirds of rural households in Cambodia use wood or charcoal to boil water before drinking. Although helpful for purifying water, this has a high environmental cost. Hydrologic ceramic water filters reduce the amount of wood burnt and bolster rural economic development. By displacing water boiling practices, Hydrologic helps households avoid burning over 18,000 tons of wood each year, saving more than 40,000 tons of CO2 emissions yearly.

Hydrologic was also a winner of an Impact Business Award in 2011, meaning Rachel was able to attend an Impact Business Forum event in Pretoria, South Africa where she was able to gather ideas and learn from other entrepreneurs.

Another aspect we were particularly interested in here at iDE UK was the Hydrologic microfinance scheme carried out in partnership with microfinance institution Visionfund, whereby customers purchasing ceramic water filters are given the opportunity to take out a loan to pay for the installation of the filter. This has proven extremely successful as the vast majority of customers opt to take the loan when available and to date 100% have repaid the loan within the given repayment period. Visionfund also partner with iDE Cambodia’s sanitation team to provide microloans to rural customers for latrines. In 2012, Rachel has been working to develop financing options, including partnerships with microfinance institutions and web-based microfinance platform KIVA for iDE Cambodia’s Farm Business Advisor (FBA) enterprise to enable farmers and FBA entrepreneurs to purchase agricultural inputs and equipment that will improve their yields and income.

iDE Cambodia’s innovation team i-Lab have also had a busy year –  the i-Lab facility develops products and services that challenge key issues for the rural poor in Cambodia. The i-Lab designs radically affordable, market-based solutions for the poor to help them take steps out of poverty on their own. They also work to build the capacities of other organisations so that they can more effectively innovate pro-poor solutions. The i-Lab has now secured a number of innovation projects in 2013 including in the areas of hand hygiene, and clean drinking water access.

 

We can’t wait to see what is in store for Cambodia in 2013!

Thanks for stopping by Rachel!

 

Rachel (left) accepting our Impact Business Forum award

Rachel (left) accepting our Impact Business Forum award

iDE UK invited to speak at Innovations Against Poverty event

iDE UK CEO Lewis Temple spoke about pioneering iDE Farm Business Advisor (FBA) scheme at recent event in Stockholm.

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iDE UK CEO Lewis Temple spoke about pioneering iDE Farm Business Advisor (FBA) scheme at recent event in Stockholm.

On 26th November, Sida’s Innovations Against Poverty programme held their first ever Conference and Awards ceremony in the Waterfront Congress Centre in Stockholm. Innovations Against Poverty challenges the private sector to develop products, services and business models that can contribute to poverty reduction and combat climate change. The conference was aimed at bringing together like-minded entrepreneurs, incubators and business practitioners to meet and share ideas about inclusive business development. As part of their mission to help innovative private sector development, IAP have awarded iDE UK a €20,000 grant to fund an initiative bringing the Farm Business Advisor model to Mozambique.

Lewis was invited to share iDE UK’s thinking on innovative solutions to combat poverty. Drawing on the Nestlé Creating Shared Value award winning Farm Business Advisor scheme in Cambodia, Lewis was able to demonstrate what can be achieved in Mozambique. The Farm Business Advisor initiative trains local entrepreneurs to sell agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and seeds to local smallholder farmers, as well as provide support and advice in order to help farmers grow market oriented crops. This approach ensures that farmers are able to improve their agricultural productivity, thereby enabling them to generate a stable income that can dramatically improve their living standards, and reduce food insecurity. This also provides Farm Business Advisors with a sustainable livelihood and income.

In Cambodia Farm Business Advisors currently work with over 15,000 farmer clients.  In Mozambique we estimate that farmers could increase their income by £186 a year, with FBA’s increasing their income by up to £621 a year.

In his presentation Lewis focused on describing the Farm Business Advisor franchise model, whereby Farm Business Advisors act as franchisees linked to a central franchisor that provides training and business support. In this way, Farm Business Advisors are individual entrepreneurs, yet operate under the brand, training and products of the wider scheme. This model presents a viable solution to the problem of getting the right products and services the very last mile, into the hands of the poorest and most isolated farmers.

Lewis reported that “Innovations Against Poverty are unusual in that they are prepared to take risks by investing in businesses trying to reach poorest. In this way, they are leading the way in using grant funding to enabling businesses to effectively reach the bottom of the pyramid.” He added that the event “was an excellent opportunity to bring together amazing entrepreneurs working across Africa and Asia. Everyone was able to share experiences and inspire one another. I was delighted to be part of the programme and am already looking forward to next year’s event.”

We would also like to say congratulations to sanitation initiative Sanergy, who won the main prize of Social Innovator of the Year!  Sanergy has created a sustainable sanitation business solution in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya that is providing clean and hygienic toilet services to some of Africa’s poorest urban slum dwellers.

Find out more about iDE UK and our Farm Business Advisor programme.

Take a look at Lewis’ presentation from the conference.

World Toilet Day 2012: iDE promotes toilets in Cambodia

iDE project is revo-LOO-tionising sanitation markets in Cambodia and around the world.

Toilets are not exactly glamorous, but installing and using a toilet is vital in ensuring people stay clean and healthy, and can save thousands of lives each year. iDE provide sustainable sanitation solutions in Cambodia and around the world through human-centered and market-led approaches that make a real difference.

iDE know that promoting sanitation means more than just making toilets and handing them out to the poorest villages. Our approach is to develop, manufacture and market toilets with local communities, ensuring all products are viable, sustainable and succeed in improving the lives of the poorest.

With only 23% of rural Cambodians owning their own toilet, the market and scope for providing toilets and improving sanitation is huge. When we started our project in Cambodia in 2009, we understood the barriers many poor families face in acquiring a toilet, such as social values, a lack of awareness and poor access to credit. That is why we use sanitation marketing and human-centered design to ensure the toilets satisfy local aspirations and needs. We have also partnered with VisionFund to offer low interest loans to help locals buy their own toilet. Over 31,000 easy latrines have been sold in the last two years in Cambodia and we aim to sell 100,000 more in the next two years!

Through adopting a Sanitation marketing (SanMark) approach, toilets are marketed as an aspirational purchase, meaning the local community are actively encouraged to buy and use a toilet not just for their hygienic benefits, but also as a symbol of prestige. This also means that demand creation for sanitation is no longer the sole burden of government and NGOs. This project has enabled local entrepreneurs to profitably create and supply high demands for sanitation, in larger numbers, a shorter time frame, and with lower costs than any sanitation program has previously been able to achieve. This project was first run in Vietnam from about 2002 and its success means it has now been rolled out in Timor Leste, Laos, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ethiopia and Zambia!

Through treating people as customers and not as recipients of charity iDE are able to move beyond asking “what is good for people?” to “what is important to people?” We can understand what people need and how their aspirations can be fulfilled, supplying life-changing products through sustainable market chains. We look at supply and demand in order to establish new supply chains, creating new opportunities for manufacturers, suppliers, sellers and customers.

Through promoting toilets as a desirable and aspirational purchase, and by making it much easier for the poorest families to access markets and buy a toilet, iDE are helping improve sanitation on a monumental scale throughout Cambodia and around the world.

iDE UK, supporting World Toilet Day 2012.

Find out more about iDE UK Sanitation projects now!

Photo of the day: iDE UK in Nepal

As promised, we have another beautiful photograph (which was amazingly taken on an iPhone!) taken from when the two David’s were out visiting iDE UK projects in Nepal.

The project they were visiting is called the Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Project (ANE), which is currently based in Nepal. This project helps small holder farmers who lack access to agricultural technologies and markets, meaning they experience low productivity, food insecurity and high levels of poverty. iDE UK target these small holder farmers and work to sustainably improve their production and marketing of crops and nutritious foods. This not only leads to increased food security but ensures adequate nutrition levels and provides a sustainable income for the farmers!

By the end of this project in 2014, iDE UK aim to improve food security in 51,000 households and improve child nutrition in 16,000 households throughout rural Nepal.

Our programmes manager David Jackson has reported that the project is going brilliantly and is already showing how improved farming techniques are increasing productivity and income!