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Empowering Smallholder Farmers: USAID's Impact

in West Africa


I am honored to share with you the transformative impacts our USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has catalyzed within the region in the last four years. As Chief of the Party, I have witnessed firsthand the profound changes in the lives of smallholder farmers and their communities, and the amazing work done by our co-investment partners.


At the Trade Hub, our commitment to fostering sustainable agriculture practices and facilitating market access has been unwavering. Through strategic partnerships and innovative approaches, the Trade Hub has empowered over 526,000 smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and incomes. By providing access to finance, farming inputs, training, and technology, we have equipped farmers with the tools they need to thrive in a competitive market landscape.


The ripple effects of our interventions extend far beyond individual farmers, reaching entire communities and regions. Increased incomes have led to improved living standards, better access to education and healthcare, and enhanced food security. Moreover, our emphasis on gender equality has empowered women farmers, amplifying the positive impact on households and communities. In Nigeria, for example, a women’s farmer group, has grown 100 bags of maize using the training and support from Thrive Agric, a Trade Hub co-investment partner. 


As we reflect on our achievements, we are reminded of the resilience and dedication of the farmers we serve. Their commitment to feeding their families and contributing to strengthening food security and the economic growth of their countries/communities inspires us every day. Together with our co-investment partners, we remain steadfast in our mission to create lasting change and unlock the full potential of West Africa's agricultural sector.


Thank you for your continued support and partnership as we work towards a brighter, more prosperous future for all.

Impacts to Date

As of December 31, 2023, the Trade Hub had awarded 93 co-investment grants for $82.6 million across West Africa and leveraged $407.7 million in new private investment. These partnerships led to over 74,000 jobs being added to the West African economy, with more than half being held by women. Further, the total sales and exports ($610.9 million and $203.1 million, respectively) of the co-investment partnerships positively impacted economic realities in the region, especially for individual participants, ranging from smallholder farmers to investment managers to women entrepreneurs. 


Currently spanning 16 West African countries—Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Mali, Liberia, Niger, Cabo Verde, Sierra Leone, Guinea, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Cameroon—the Trade Hub’s co-investment partnerships are made possible through USAID missions across West Africa and dedicated funding through the U.S. Government’s Prosper Africa and Feed the Future initiatives. 


Through the results of the successful completion of seven of the Trade Hub’s grant-funded co-investment projects (read more about some of them here) between September and December 2023, there is substantial proof of the sustainable transformation achieved from locally driven collaboration and innovation. The continuing achievements through the Trade Hub’s portfolio partners demonstrate how the Trade Hub and its co-investment partners are contributing significantly to economic growth in West Africa by creating jobs, boosting incomes for people working in dozens of industries, and increasing exports of agricultural and non-agricultural products sourced from or made in the region to the United States and other countries.  


Successful Project Completion

Seven grantees—including Nalmaco, Remif Rems, WACOT Rice (WACOT), Partners for Development (PfD) in Nigeria; La Laiterie du Berger (LDB) in Senegal; Koster Keunen West Africa (KKWA) headquartered in Togo; and CrossBoundary LLC, which has operations in multiple West African countries—recently completed their co-investment activities, while also surpassing key targets per their awards. Closeout events, with USAID staff participating, were held to celebrate their achievements and showcase their impressive results.  


Collectively, their achievements contribute to the overall Trade Hub targets, including $3.83 million in grants awarded and leveraged, $36.7 million in new investments across various value chains, creation of 11,226 jobs, and generation of $24.9 million in exports. 

Lasting Impact, Transformed Lives – The Results of Successful Private Sector Partnership

Utilizing a combined market-driven approach and blended finance solutions to tackle a variety of locally unique challenges, the USAID Trade Hub (Trade Hub) has been positively impacting the region's economic clime.


A notable example of this comes from the collaboration with WACOT Rice Ltd. (WRL) in Kebbi State, Nigeria. Confronted with severe climatic challenges, including rising temperatures and erratic rainfall, Kebbi State farmers faced economic hardships. In response, the Trade Hub awarded a $1.48 million co-investment grant to WRL for its Argungu Rice Outgrower Expansion Project (AOEP). Launched in January 2021 and augmented by $6.49 million in private investments, the project aimed to integrate over 5,143 rice farmers into a sustainable agriculture ecosystem. Remarkably, by implementing good agricultural practice (GAP) trainings, providing farmers with premium agri-inputs, and carrying out behavior change campaigns that empowered smallholder farmers to adopt regenerative agricultural techniques, in just three short years, the collaboration surpassed expectations by creating 6,003 jobs, generating $19.5 million in sales revenue, and increasing farmers' yields to 4.34 metric tons (MT). 


The partnership with Remif Rems Nigeria Ltd. (Remif Rems), a woman-led, agro-focused firm, is another impactful partnership. In March 2021, in response to threats from the Ukraine-Russia war and global inflation, the Trade Hub awarded a $499,000 co-investment grant to Remif Rems to support rice farmers and enhance food security. However, in addition to the project objectives of supporting 3,000 rice farmers in Ebonyi and Cross River States to produce 30,000 MT of clean paddy rice on 3,000 hectares (ha) of land, the partnership, using advocacy as a tool, also dismantled cultural barriers denying women access to land, leading to a historic shift in communities like Abachor, Cross River State, where women gained access to cultivate and harvest crops from their own farms for the first time.


Empowering 4,276 farmers, including 1,867 women and 2,210 youth, the partnership exceeded revenue targets, reaching $16.58 million. Also, leveraging agro-research and innovation, Remif Rems pioneered the development of organic fertilizer from food waste,rice husks, black soldier fly maggots, and poultry waste. This eco-friendly fertilizer promises higher profits for farmers, contributing to sustainable agriculture in an economy grappling with inflation.


Addressing the economic impact of COVID-19 on agro-livelihoods, the Trade Hub awarded an $834,000 strategic grant to Nalmaco Nigeria Ltd. (Nalmaco). The objective was to expand the maize and soybean supply by engaging 2,000 farmers to produce 20,000 MT of maize and 15,000 MT of soybeans. Additionally, this initiative included plans to improve infrastructure, with a modern warehouse and maize processing plant. Utilizing the grant, Nalmaco initiated an improved approach for its 2022 outgrower scheme by hiring more agricultural extension agents to monitor and mentor farmers on pre- and post-harvest good agronomic practices.


This approach proved beneficial, ensuring effective implementation of $636,242 in input loans disbursed to 1,600 farmers, with 49 percent female and 81 percent youth participation. Significantly, Nalmaco recovered 99.25 percent ($631,470) of the input loans, a stark contrast to the 18.9 percent recovery in 2020 before the co-investment partnership began. Around the development of crucial infrastructure, the construction of Nalmaco’s 15,000-MT capacity warehouse and a state-of-the-art processing plant attests to the partnership's commitment to building a solid foundation for the future of agro-processing. Beyond strengthening supply chains, Nalmaco's recent accreditation as a key grain supplier to the UN World Food Programme further emphasizes the broader impact on advancing nutrition and food security in the region.


In essence, while these collaborative initiatives showcase the Trade Hub's commitment to fostering sustainable development, social equity, and food security in West Africa, the transformative impact of these strategic partnerships extends beyond immediate challenges; they are planting the seeds for a resilient and prosperous agricultural sector with lasting benefits for future generations.

Highlights of the Ghana Trade Hub

Learning Event

Celebrating Success in Transforming the Economic Landscape: USAID Trade Hub Ghana Learning Event 

The Trade Hub hosted a knowledge-sharing and learning event for Ghana themed, “Food Security & Trade: Driving Impact” on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra, Ghana. The event convened over 60 in-person attendees, including USAID and Trade Hub representatives, the Trade Hub’s co-investment partners in Ghana, private sector investors, and government entities dedicated to advancing private sector growth and entrepreneurship. Representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Parliament of Ghana, National Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Coordination Office, Ghana Investment Promotion Center, and Ghana Export Promotion Authority were among those present. 

Facilitated by Tia Swain, Trade Hub Communication Specialist, the hybrid event put a spotlight on the collaborative efforts of the Trade Hub and its co-investment partners in Ghana, along with USAID’s endeavors in promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Ghana and West Africa. 

Read to learn more about this event.

Event Photos

Partner's Spotlight: La Confédération Coopérative Paysanne Horticole Niger (CCPHN)

In Niger, agricultural development is not just a local concern but also a matter of national significance, affecting economic growth and food security across the country. Recognizing the potential of local cooperatives to drive sustainable change, the partnership between the Trade Hub and CCPHN is poised to make a substantial impact. With a co-investment grant of $793,179 awarded to CCPHN in November 2021, the partnership aims to enhance potato production capabilities, expand storage capacities, and improve market access for local farmers, thus aligning with broader regional development goals.


Endeavoring to shed light on the strategic approach and objectives of this partnership, we engaged Mr. Talatou Nassirou (CEO of CCPHN) in a candid discussion.

Q: Can you elaborate on CCPHN's strategy for enhancing potato production and empowering local farmers in Niger?

A: Certainly. CCPHN's strategy is multifaceted. We focus on providing targeted support to smallholder farmers, ranging from capacity building to infrastructure development. For example, with the co-investment grant, we initiated a program through which we have distributed up to 700MT of improved potato seeds and fertilizers to 1,074 farmers enrolled in what we call “Concept du future in the Tillabéri and Dosso regions. Additionally, we conduct training sessions on modern agricultural practices, such as crop rotation and soil conservation, to optimize yields, maximize profitability, and minimize environmental impact.


Q: How does CCPHN plan to leverage the partnership with the Trade Hub to amplify its impact on potato production and agricultural development?


A: The collaboration with the Trade Hub is pivotal in expanding our efforts. Thanks to the grant, we've built a cutting-edge 1,000-MT warehouse in the Tillabéri region, complete with cooling systems to prolong the shelf-life of potatoes. Additionally, we've forged market connections with eight buyers in neighboring countries like Benin, streamlining the export of top-notch potato seeds and household consumption of potatoes. These endeavors have resulted in an average cumulative $500,000 income increase for 1,074 local farmers.

Q: What are some of the main hurdles CCPHN faces in its mission to enhance potato production and how does the organization plan to overcome them?


A: Access to finance and agricultural inputs are challenges that pose a notable hurdle for smallholder farmers, a challenge amplified by the ECOWAS sanctions triggered by Niger's military takeover on July 26, 2023. In response, CCPHN has continued implementation of its contract farming initiative with farmers within its supply chain. Through this program, farmers receive essential inputs, like high-quality seeds and fertilizers, in exchange for agreed-upon quantities of potatoes for their household consumption at harvest time. This underscores our dedication to serving as a reliable market for farmers' produce, with farmers readily selling any surplus harvest to us. 


Q: How does CCPHN prioritize sustainability and community empowerment in its agricultural projects?


A: Sustainability is at the core of CCPHN's mission. We promote agroecological practices, such as organic farming and water-saving irrigation techniques, to minimize environmental degradation and conserve natural resources. Additionally, we engage with local communities in the regions of Tillabéri and Dosso through farmer field schools and cooperative associations, empowering farmers, especially women and youth, to make informed decisions and participate actively in the development process.

Q: How does CCPHN prioritize the involvement of women and youth in its agricultural projects?


A: CCPHN strongly focuses on promoting gender equality and empowering youth in its agricultural projects. In our program with the Trade Hub, we've successfully trained 514 women and 631 young people to take part in various potato production activities, from farming to selling. With the 50 MT/year processing unit we're building, around 60 percent of the workers will be women involved in cleaning and sorting of potatoes. We also offer targeted support and training programs tailored to the needs of these women and youth in the rural areas of Tillabéri and Dosso regions. Our goal is to improve their skills, knowledge, and economic opportunities.

Q: Looking ahead, what are CCPHN's plans for expanding its reach and impact in Niger and beyond?

A: Moving forward, CCPHN is committed to broadening its impact by extending services to underserved regions and marginalized communities in the regions of Maradi, Zinder, Tahoua, and Agadez. Our strategy involves replicating successful interventions from our collaboration with the Trade Hub in other areas of Niger, such as constructing warehouses with a combined storage capacity of 10,000 MT by 2026 and establishing market connections. Additionally, we are actively seeking opportunities to partner with international organizations and stakeholders to exchange knowledge and experiences, with the overarching goal of fostering sustainable agricultural development and enhancing food security in Niger and beyond.

Celebrating Women's History Month

Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress

Investing in women and championing gender equality is critical for building a transformed society where everyone has the resources and opportunities to thrive in all aspects of life. At the Trade Hub, we engage women-owned/led businesses and those that meaningfully engage women and youth to co-create private sector jobs and develop other sustainable initiatives for long-term women and youth’s participation and benefits.

The focus is on addressing restrictive social norms, limited access to power and control over resources as well as the right of women and youth to have access to services and opportunities that promote their business interest and impactful engagement in the private sector ecosystem. The trade Hub’s goal is to create 76,640 jobs, with 50% women and 50% youth target to participate and benefit.

The theme for International Women's Day 2024, "Invest In Women, Accelerate Progress," resonates with the Trade Hub's gender-sensitive approach to co-investment partnerships and how the success of these partnerships is evaluated. To date, the Trade Hub has awarded $14 million in co-investment grants to 17 women-owned/led businesses. These businesses have successfully mobilized more than $35 million in additional private investment.

Enhancing Gender Inclusion through

the Trade Hub

Promoting Gender and Social Inclusion

The Trade Hub has so far created 74,000 new, well-paying private-sector jobs, with half dedicated to women and youth. The Trade Hub has awarded $14 million in co-investment grants to 17 women-owned/led businesses, and these businesses have mobilized over $38 million in private investment.

The Women of Likoro: Inspiring Generation of Farmers for Food Security

With the support of the Trade Hub and ThriveAgric through their co-investment partnership, the Likoro Cooperative has successfully transformed its humble origins to achieve remarkable yields that exceed their expectations.

USAID Investment in Family-owned Fresk D’Gustinh Gives Boost to Aquaculture in Cabo Verde

Located in the central Atlantic Ocean directly west of Senegal, picturesque Cabo Verde is home to a burgeoning aquaculture industry. An integral part of the local economy, fishing provides a livelihood for thousands of people. With support from the Trade Hub, one woman-led, family business stands out, seeking to harness and expand the archipelago’s fishing industry.

Read more here

From Subsistence to Success: Women’s financial independence through organic soy farming in Togo

The Trade Hub partnered with AGROKOM, an organic soybean farming, trading, and processing company, to strengthen its supply and processing of soy, and empower farmers to achieve improved yields.

Rachida Djobo, a training and quality supervisor, works with small-plot farmers to plant soy, teaching them techniques that are increasing production and revenue for women in Sotouboua, Togo.

Read more here

Cracking the Code 

Rahma Alhassan has worked in the shea business for 13 years and is now a member of the Sughlo Mbor Bini shea cooperative in Tamale in northern Ghana. Through a partnership with the Trade Hub, the Savannah Fruits Company is working with women like Rahma providing them a stable, comfortable income.

Read more here

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The contents of this newsletter are the sole responsibility of Creative Associates International and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, and the United States Government.