Monsanto is an active partner in various partnerships across Africa that are making a real difference for thousands of farmers, their families, and their communities. A few of these joint projects are described below.
One partnership tackling the local challenges in Siaya is the Business Alliance against Chronic Hunger (BAACH). In December 2006, a group of international, regional, and national companies collaborated with the government of Kenya and nongovernmental organizations. They agreed on a single focus: to apply all available private-sector expertise to develop new strategies to increase food production, nutrition, and incomes.
The participating companies wanted to leverage their expertise and capabilities to improve value chains — from production, processing and packaging to retailing and marketing — through business development and market linkages. Companies implement these solutions in partnership with governments, NGOs, international agencies, and local communities. In Kenya, the BAACH action plan is to improve production of staple and high-value crops and to strengthen entrepreneurship.
One action that has already had an effect is a pilot voucher program for agricultural inputs. It has provided more than 10,000 farmers in the Siaya district with access to their choice of maize seeds and fertilizer.5
A key feature is that smallholder farmers are issued vouchers that can be redeemed for discounted seed and fertilizer at their local input dealers (stockists). Stockists are often the most sustainable and effective distribution channel to serve smallholder farmers in rural areas, so this program reinforces food security and local businesses at the same time. A business model for packaging, storing, selling, and processing surplus maize has also been developed. It could benefit up to 12 percent of the district population.
The Millennium Villages Project is an arm of the Millennium Promise organization a non-profit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty by 2025. Monsanto has made a commitment to the program, through 2010, to donate 240 tons of high-quality hybrid maize seed each year to villages in Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya, enough to reach 24,000 smallholder farming families. The Millennium Villages Project ensures that the seed is coupled with effective development efforts, so that resource-poor farmers have access to all the tools they need for successful agriculture: quality seeds, fertilizer, extension services, credit, markets, and knowledge of best management practices from their local environment. In the past year, Monsanto’s vegetable seed company, Seminis, also donated vegetable seed to the Millennium Village Project in Malawi to help diversify farm production and nutrition
The Hunger Project Malawi (THP-Malawi) works in five sections of the country to improve food security, water supply and sanitation, microcredit, education, and health services for a population of 85,000. For the last several years, THP-Malawi has procured hybrid maize seed from Monsanto on behalf of farmers in the program because they expressed satisfaction with the products. In addition, Monsanto field representatives provide farmers in the program with training and advice about how to get the best yields from the seed.
The cowpea, also called the black-eyed pea, is a staple grown across western Africa. It is essential for the nutritional health in the region. Unfortunately, up to 90 percent of the crop can be lost to insects. Monsanto researchers are working with NGICA scientists, USAID, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation to develop insect-resistance technology for the cowpea. Early results are promising, and confined field trials are planned for 2008.