The research team from Tuscia University (TU) has attended and contributed to the preparation and conduction of seven Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) held across the consortium countries between January 31st and February 27th, 2018.

FGDs gathered together farmers, extension officers, service providers, agro-dealers, cooperatives, processors, traders and policy makers in order to map operating and potential links between different actors along the value chains of target commodities, from production to consumption; and to identify existing constraints and development opportunities. Information derived will complement data collected through the households survey and will serve as basis for further analyses. Specific FGD reports will be prepared as a result of the field work.

In Kenya (Kangundo subcounty) TU team has been mapping the local dairy value chain in collaboration with BecA-ILRI Hub and KALRO. Side meetings included key informant interviews to Limuro Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society and a visit to the Limuro Milk Processors plant.

Figure 1. FGD and key informant interviews in Kenya

TU team then moved to Malawi where FGDs have been held in two project sites (Mzimba and Dezda Districts), in cooperation with University of Malawi, Soils, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC Malawi) and the Norwegian University of Life Science (NMBU). Work has been conducted on maize and beans value chains. Key-informant interviews to relevant stakeholders both at local and national levels (local millers, traders, agro-dealers and seed companies) have also been conducted.

Figure 2. FGDs and key informant interviews in Malawi

In Lindi District (Tanzania), where InnovAfrica promotes sorghum-legumes based cropping systems, TU team has conducted one FGD in collaboration with NIBIO and NMBU. It was hosted by Sokoine University of Agriculture and was preceded by a group visit to the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute in Mtwara. TU team has also conducted key-informant interviews to cereal traders, both in Lindi and Dar-es-Salaam.

Figure 3. FGD in Tanzania

TU and NMBU, in collaboration with Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) have also conducted two FGDs in Rwanda with the aim to map the dairy value chains in both Kirehe and  Nyamagabe Districts. Side meetings were arranged by RAB in Nyamagabe with the Executive Secretary of the District and in Kigali at Inyange Industries and at the Agricultural Information and Communication Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture  where the teams have conducted key-informant interviews.

Figure 4. FGD in Rwanda

The last FGD was eventually conducted in Harrismith, South Africa, on February 27th. The TU team, in collaboration with the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC), analysed the crop-livestock integrated system in the area and mapped the maize and beans value chains. Side meetings included key informant interviews to Eagle Farm Feeds in the project area. Additional key-informant interviews have been made in Pretoria at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) during institutional meetings with the Directors of Food security and Subsistence Farming Directorate, International Trade Directorate and Marketing Directorate.

Figure 5. FGD in South Africa

Even if many differences arise between various VCs analysed in the different countries, smallholders generally experience low and unstable farm-gate prices, limited access to information and to purchase inputs, inadequate infrastructures and absence of coordination with other VC actors. However, there is the possibility to exploit the potential of a diversified agriculture with improved productivity thanks to the implementation of innovative practices, together with inclusive marketing actions, and in cooperation with the actors active along the chains. A successful model to conduct FGDs dealing with multiple topics in a complex context has also been developed and implemented. It is expected that the same model will be replicated during the remaining FGDs to be held in Ethiopia, South Africa and Tanzania. Also, a fruitful cooperation with local research and development partners have been strengthened.