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.


For a summary of Agrilinks Twitter chat on serving the poorest smallhold farmers:

For a video on iDE’s agricultural programs:

For more on our work in Bangladesh:

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 – 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 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

‘Access to Finance’ announced as strategic theme for 2013

iDE UK Access to credit

After a fantastic year focusing on gender, iDE UK will concentrate on smallholder farmer’s access to finance in 2013.

iDE UK’s focus for 2012 was on gender, ensuring both men and women benefit equally from iDE UK’s work. We welcomed Sarah Mills as iDE UK’s first Gender Programme Officer to develop our learning and expertise in gender and agriculture and to ensure all projects are gender sensitive at all stages. Through this strategic focus, we have substantially improved our projects to ensure gender issues are addressed at all stages, and we will continue to prioritise gender in all of our future projects.

In 2013, we will shift our strategic learning focus to improving access to finance, helping smallholder farmer’s access credit to buy the technology and materials necessary to expand their farm businesses. The micro-finance revolution of recent years has largely failed to address the financial needs of smallholder farmers, who can only repay their loans after they have harvested their crops, and need financial products which are suited to their specific cashflow needs.

During 2013 we will review all our previous experience and learning around helping smallholder farmers access financial services and document this learning. We also have exciting plans to launch our own iDE UK micro-finance fund that will invest in seed funding micro-finance initiatives across our country programmes, helping to demonstrate the viability and potential of micro-finance for family farmers.

iDE has facilitated micro-finance initiatives for many years. An example of our work helping smallholder farmer’s access finance can be seen through our projects in Zambia. In 2008 iDE partnered with CETZAM Financial Services PLC, a microfinance institution operating in Zambia, to develop an agricultural loan suitable for iDE client smallholder farmers, which would allow them to purchase micro-irrigation technologies and other agricultural assets to improve their incomes and livelihoods. More than three years later, the iDE-CETZAM model serves as a best practice example of an effective and sustainable approach to agricultural microfinance that is stimulating growth and income generation in rural Zambia. In 2011, 2,820 loans were provided with an astounding loan recovery rate of 97.2%. To tap into this potential CETZAM has expanded operations and opened 13 satellite offices in Southern, Lusaka, Central and Copperbelt Provinces, with plans to extend its outreach further this year.

Access to finance also means we can continue prioritising gender in our work, as micro-finance initiatives enable women, as well as men, to empower themselves and work their way out of poverty. This can be seen through Florence Mapulanga’s journey as a smallholder farmer from Chibombo in Zambia. Florence was able to increase her annual income from $200 a year to $2000 over a five year period after adopting iDE’s approach, which included access to credit. Through this increase in income she was able to provide more nutritious foods for herself and her family, build a spacious and comfortable solid brick house and purchase new amenities such as a TV, phone and radio, improving the quality of her and her families’ lives substantially.

We understand that in order to be successful, loan products must meet the cashflow and business development needs of smallholder farmers, who don’t realise any profits until harvesting is complete. Loans can be tied to specific items of equipment or inputs and paid directly to local retailers from whom farmers receive their goods.

At iDE UK we understand that improving smallholder farmer’s access to finance means they are given the best chance of empowering themselves and working their way out of poverty.

In 2013 we will focus on realising this potential with all of our smallholder farm customers.

Success Story: Muze Meskelo’s Maize

Follow the journey of Muze Meskelo, an entrepreneurial farmer from Ethiopia

iDE entrepreneurial farmer in Ethiopia

Meet Muze Meskelo, entrepreneurial maize farmer and father of six children under 12 years old. He owns three sheep, two ox, a cow and a calf and owns half a hectare of Maize fields to grow his crops. He worked hard every day tending to his crops and his farm, yet was not producing enough maize to provide a sufficient income for his family.

Before he was introduced to iDE UK, his field produced 1.2 tonnes of maize, which would have made him around 3,600 Birr (£120) per year. He was then introduced to an iDE UK EU funded project called RAPID, which aimed to work with local smallholder farmers such as Muze to help them improve their crops and sustainably increase their income. Through the iDE UK project, Muze was able to get credit through a one year loan from a partner organisation to buy seeds and fertiliser and pay someone to weed his land. From the new maize seeds and fertiliser introduced by innovative iDE UK technologies and produced by local manufacturers, Muze was expecting to increase his crop yield to 5 tonnes from the same half a hectare space. This meant he was able to increase his income to a brilliant 15,920 Birr (£524) a year to provide for him and his family. Muze is now a successful entrepreneurial farmer and will continue to make a sustainable income from his crops!

Another successful project from iDE UK!

To donate to iDE UK and help other poor farmers in Africa and Asia create sustainable poverty-free livelihoods to support themselves and their families, please support us in The Big Give Christmas Challenge. All donations made 10am Thursday 6th – Saturday 8th December will be matched by The Waterloo Foundation.

UK Minister Calls In On iDE Nepal

UK Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan MP recently attended a demonstration of affordable iDE micro-irrigation technologies at the British Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal.

MP Alan Duncan visits iDE Nepal for micro-irrigation demonstration at British Embassy

Describing the display as ‘excellent’ the MP was greeted by staff from iDE Nepal who briefed him on iDE’s Market Access for Smallholder Farmers (MASF) project.

MASF aims to increase sustainable incomes of 32,690 smallholder farmers in the Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilbastu, Palpa, Gulmi, Syangja, Kaski,  Tanahu, Gorakha, Dhading, Bara, Rautahat, Dhanusha, Siraha and Saptari districts.

Implemented by iDE Nepal, the project is funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID).