Reducing Crop Loss and Increasing Farmer Incomes Through Improved Crop Management

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Project: Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA)
Client: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
Partners: Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA), Alliance for a Green Revolution Africa (AGRA), The World Food Program (WFP)
Location: Zambia
Sector: Agriculture
Dates of service: February 2018 - January 2019
IDinsight service: Process evaluation
IDinsight contacts: Chris Chibwana, Kevin Kelsey
Status: Active

Farmers in sub-Saharan Africa lose up to 25% of their grain crops, largely due to poor storage and drying practices. This directly leads to reduced income for farmers. Post-harvest management such as harvesting, drying, and storing techniques can mitigate these agricultural losses. However, most farmers in Zambia have not been trained in post-harvest management, and in-person agricultural training in Zambia is costly because of low population density and a lack of strong cooperative networks. 

To reduce crop loss and increase farmer incomes, the Farm to Market Alliance implemented a farmer-led training program to disseminate post-harvest crop management best practices. The training was disseminated using the “lead farmer to farmer” model, whereby implementing partners (iDE) trained lead farmers, and lead farmers then trained farmers in their locality. Along with the in-person training, each farmer and lead farmer received a manual that described how and why to adopt post-harvest management best practices.

The Problem

The Farm to Market Alliance and its implementing partners seek evidence on program design and implementation, especially with regard to the viability of the lead farmer model in Zambia, and whether or not the program’s theory of change holds.

Evidence Needs

IDinsight conducted a process evaluation to identify strengths and weaknesses in implementation, and to identify assumptions in the theory of change that do not hold. IDinsight examined barriers to post-harvest knowledge dissemination, as well as retention and take-up of best practices.

IDinsight Service

The process evaluation found that the program was implemented as intended. Notably, the lead farmer to farmer model was effective in disseminating information to farmers at scale. However, few farmers adopted FtMA’s best practices, despite gaining and retaining what was taught during the trainings. Barriers to adoption depend on the specific post-harvest best practice. For example, cost and availability were reported as the primary reasons for not purchasing and using hermetic storage bags.