J.E. Austin Associates (JAA) supported the USAID Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Strengthening Value Chains Activity (SVC) implemented by Tetra Tech from September 2018 to September 2022. The Activity aimed to increase household income and improve access to nutrient-rich crops by linking smallholder farmers to strengthened and inclusive value chains and supportive market services. JAA was responsible for implementing an influential cross-cutting component of the Activity that targeted increased trade, effective advocacy, and productive public-private dialogue and partnership.
SVC facilitated access to markets for agricultural sector stakeholders and their affiliated organizations, allowing them to obtain financing from banking and microfinance institutions. It facilitated market linkages between agricultural producers, producer organizations, cooperatives, unions, processors, service providers, and traders. Due to SVC interventions, agricultural producers, and other value chain stakeholders in Idjwi, Kabare, Kalehe, and Walungu territories of South Kivu Province in Eastern DRC are transitioning to thinking about agribusiness as an enterprise; instead of solely focusing on relief-based humanitarian approaches characterized by donations, subsidies, and a dependency mindset.
SVC improved public and private stakeholders’ acceptance of evidence-based advocacy and public-private dialogue to foster collaboration. The Activity facilitated several fruitful public-private partnerships (PPPs) and collaborations between private-sector associations and cooperatives, academic institutions, public-sector ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs). SVC advocacy efforts led to the DRC prime minister publicly committing to establish an Agricultural Development Bank. The governor of the central bank canceled foreign exchange penalties amounting to $36,645 for four coffee cooperatives, and the minister of foreign trade rescinded an export license fee of $1000 for agricultural products previously collected by his ministry.
JAA worked with stakeholders to carry out a competitiveness benchmarking assessment and then helped the stakeholders devise and obtain a public-private agreement on the competitiveness strategy. JAA facilitated the development, acceptance, and implementation of the South Kivu specialty coffee sector strategy to improve the competitiveness of the coffee sector. It identifies the main challenges for the coffee value chain, the solutions to these challenges, and the expected results of specific actions.
SVC’s results are numerous and substantial. Working through local partners, SVC, directly and indirectly, reached 173,423 households (more than 1 million people) in South Kivu and more than 321 private enterprises, cooperatives, producer organizations (POs), and associations. More than 22,000 coffee farming households registered production increases of at least 30 percent, and 18,484 of these households generated more than $125 in additional annual income through improvements in production and productivity, quality, and market and income diversification. Almost 23,000 farmers improved their farm management practices and climate-smart technologies on over 5,550 hectares of farmland, and SVC-supported farmers and agricultural enterprises generated over $11.6 million in sales. Men’s revenues increased by an average of 68.6 percent, while women and youth participants increased their monthly revenues by an average of 78 percent and 77.1 percent, respectively.