What is the last mile delivery?

Find the original article here
Overcoming The Last Mile Challenge: Distributing Value To Billions

You can buy a Coca-Cola KO +0.26% anywhere in the world, but affordable products that provide essential value like water treatment or lighting often do not reach billions of poor populations around the globe. However, in what is commonly known as the “last mile distribution challenge,“ some social entrepreneurs are providing innovative solutions to make the last mile a first opportunity.

A majority of the population in developing economies live in rural areas often accessible only by poor quality road infrastructure. Furthermore, geographical isolation or limited access to relevant information disconnects populations in many developing countries from any business value chain. The consequence—which can affect both urban and rural populations—is that products providing essential value either do not reach the intended customers or are more expensive or lower quality than the standard products that are accessible by other populations.

Food access, a fundamental issue in Kenya (Food security bill)

The bill has been formulated to legislate on various constitutional articles comprising 43(1C), 53(1C) and article 21. Article 43(1C) stipulates that every citizen of Kenya has the right to be free from hunger and be able to access quality food of acceptable quality and quantity. Article 53(1C) on its part was formulated to address the children. It states that every child has a right to basic nutrition, shelter and health care. The bill takes a human based approach by taking article 21 of the constitution into perspective. Food is therefore considered as an important aspect of rights and fundamental freedoms among the people in Kenya.

The bill defines food as everything that originates from biological sources and water, whether processed or not, which is designated as an eatable or beverage for human consumption, including food additive materials, food raw material and other materials used in the process of preparation, processing and or the making of an eatable. Food takes into account art 21 of the constitution. This definition is restricted to human eatables and may not be extended to animal eatables. Though some animals are classified as human eatables and hence may be referred to as food. The materials referred in this definition are those that contribute directly in the make up of the eatables and not those that accompany the eatables such as packaging materials. Lastly the inclusion of article 21 of the constitution, means that food is considered as a human right. Its lack is therefore is a denial of these rights.

The bill defines agricultural food commodities as any agricultural food commodity designated as essential for the food security of the country. It is not clear whether this could mean implements that aid food production, seeds, fertilizer etc. Commodities essential for food production within the country may comprise the entire stock of goods needed for food security. The commodities could extend from farming activities to value addition activities. The essential foodstuffs include common types of food used by Kenyans in the country. The cabinet secretary has been given the authority to designate more foodstuff to the common list of foods.

Food access also a fundamental issue in Kenya. The country has either to ensure that adequate food is produced for its population or specific measures are put in place to avoid situations where its citizens lack food. According to the bill, food access may be procured through purchase, production or programmes implemented by the state. In this section the bill needs also to recognize the role of non-state actors who in most cases are usually the on the ground and the first to respond to precarious situations at times long before government established appropriate responses. It remains very important for the government to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are put in place to ensure that people unable to access food at any time are assisted to do so. These include persons at risk, vulnerable persons, forgotten populations or those facing situations of humanitarian disaster.

The Kenyan Food Security Bill

The Food Security Bill is being championed by Senator Beatrice Elachi who graced the Jesuit Hakimani Center (JHC) conference. She outlined the main arguements in the bill.

The bill is being proposed pasuant to article 43(1)(c) of the constitution. The article states that every person has the right to be free from hunger and to have adequate food of an adequate quality.

In responding to the constitutional call, the bill addresses issues of access. Where acccess may be obtained by production, purchase or through programmes implemented by the State. Secondly it defines adequate food as food available in a in quality and quantity sufficient to meet the dietary needs, acceptable in a given culture and free from adverse substances. The bill consideres specifically the vulnerable populations, the elderly and the infirm as those requiring special attention. It establishes a Food Security Authority in the country which will operate under the ministry of devolution.

The main aim of the bill is to provide a framework which will guide the country to freedom from hunger. This will be done by promoting sustainable production systems, that will lead to food sustanance and security for all persons in Kenya. There will be a coordinated structure all the way from the counties to the national government.

According to Hon Kiraitu Murungi, the bill borrows from experiences of other countries such as China and India where food insecurity is a thing of the past. These countries have invested in high yielding varieties of rice whose production ability is six times that of Kenya. Secondly policy makers contend that the traditional small scale agriculture is not viable. The government has to think of reclusterization of people in communities so as people may leave adequate land for cultivation. In order to achieve food security, the government will need to elevate agriculture investments to the same level it does on national security. Massive investments will therefore have to be made on irrigation, science and technology, providing subsidies to farmers and related needed infrastructure.

On small scale irrigation equipment, the government would provide subsidies to enable the small holders access them. Examples were given of the Malawi and Israel govenments that subsidized the irrigation equipments. This made so many farmers acquire these equipments either individually or through cooperatives. In this case, the irrigation equipment should be considered as part of public infrastructure.

An important question remains on whether the country should accept GMOs. The GMOs seem to have found favour among people with American origin. People with a European leaning tend to be against it. The main contention on the GMO is safety and sovereignity and the fear of the fact that food control will be relagated to the market forces. The fears are not about bio-technology as bio technology is also within the non GMO technologies. Within Kenya however the issue of food security must be addressed along the lines of safety and sovereignlity.

African food sovereignty must focus on building locally-controlled food systems

The origin of the post here

THIKA, Kenya — At a time when the mainstream international development actors are promoting technological fixes to food insecurity in Africa, Samuel Nderitu is showing that another path is possible: locally-led innovations that shield farmers from expensive seeds and chemical inputs. Nderitu is the director of the Grow Biointensive Agriculture Center of Kenya (G-BIACK), which has trained over 6,000 Kenyan farmers in organic farming — meaning without any chemicals.

This approach is embedded precisely within the food sovereignty movement. The idea is to ensure local people’s control over their own food systems rather than leave farmers and consumers vulnerable to global food and fuel markets.

“It has become the norm in poor countries to rely on food from outside,” Nderitu, who received an honorable mention award at the 2011 Community Food Security Coalition conference, said. “This has to change.”

The term “food sovereignty,” coined by the international NGO La Via Campesina at the 1996 World Food Summit, has come to define the coalition contesting the fossil-fuel dependent global food system controlled by multinational corporations.

G-BIACK is a huge proponent of indigenous seed varieties, which farmers harvest from their fields and preserve in a community seed bank, shielding them from expensive seed markets. Farmers are encouraged to preserve the seeds from the fast-growing, pest-free plants on their fields. They’re crucial to local nutrition, with the vegetable lablab an integral part of the diet of Kenya’s Kikuyu tribe. Indeed, the seed variety is so crucial because it sets the foundation for the rest of the agricultural system. Indigenous seeds, given their ability to grow without large amounts of fertilizer, enable organic approaches to take hold. By contrast, genetically-engineered and hybrid varieties demand high fertilizer concentrations, generating a fossil fuel-dependent system that leaves farmers susceptible to high energy prices.

G-BIACK’s focus on indigenous seeds is complemented by soil-enriching methods that rely on nutrient recycling, aimed at weaning farmers off chemical fertilizer within 3 years. It encourages farmers to practice intercropping, which involves sowing a nitrogen-producing crop in between the rows of another crop. The two crops cannot be random but must be “companion crops,” Nderitu said. For example, in a maize-bean system, the bean fixes nitrogen for the maize’s benefit, and the maize provides shade for the bean crop. Companion crop can even be used for pest management as an alternative to pesticides: the onion’s scent helps drive a pest away from the kale crop. In addition to intercropping, G-BIACK promotes the incorporation of crop residues into the soil to provide nutrients for subsequent crops.

This sort of knowledge-intensive agriculture requires investments in human capacity in order to disseminate best practices. That’s why G-BIACK trains “Community Resource Persons” who take the lead in farmer-to-farmer dissemination. Yet African governments are still suffering from the legacy of cuts to agricultural extension services, imposed by international financial institutions in the 1980s as part of an ideology that deemed the state inefficient. That gap sorely needs to be addressed to facilitate adoption of organic methods throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

If indigenous seeds and organic soil-enhancing approaches have been proven to benefit poor farmers and offer viable yields, then why are all the major development institutions promoting expensive high-yielding crop varieties? A closely related problem is that the international research establishment tends to focus mostly on improving the productivity of global-traded commodity crops. Yet encouraging farmers to adopt such crops purely for their commercial value would render them reliant on expensive inputs and displace the crops considered important for local nutrition. That’s why it’s crucial to build a substantial evidence base of effective farming systems such as the one promoted by G-BIACK.

G-BIACK is exactly the type of example that needs to be recognized in international policy circles in order to offer viable alternatives to the high external-input model that drove the 1960s Green Revolution—a huge development effort whose deployment of crop technologies served to displace the most vulnerable farmers incapable of affording the inputs. To challenge the Green Revolution’s ideological hegemony over the agricultural development field, we need a movement to mainstream the organic practices that are best-suited for Africa’s small farmers. Paradoxically, Africa’s smallholder farmers are the group most vulnerable to hunger, and so this calls for agricultural systems centered on empowering farmers rather than on simply producing more food.

Indeed, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD) was a major attempt at elevating such alternatives to industrial agriculture on the international agenda. The UN-commissioned report warned that “continuing on the path of high-input industrial agriculture will fail to meet the world’s food security goals in the face of climate change, water scarcity, and human nutrition needs,” IAASTD co-chair Hans Herren writes in a recent Op-Ed. It proposes multi-functionality as a framework for global agriculture, which must not only generate viable yields but ensure rural livelihoods, adequate nutrition, and adaptation to climate change. Yet the IAASTD, with its fundamentally transformed vision for agriculture, had difficulty gaining traction.

“The institutional mechanisms of the corporate food regime are unlikely to provide solutions to its socio-eco- logical contradictions—as evidenced by the business-as- usual approach to productionist agriculture in the World Bank’s 2008 World Development Report, matched by the silence with which the report on the unsustainability of industrial agriculture by the FAO’s 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development was met at the FAO’s Rome food crisis summit in June 2008,” writes Cornell University development sociology professor Philip McMichael.

Thus proponents of agro-ecological agriculture are tasked with building an alternative international network that challenges the sanctity of high-input agriculture. Just as international institutions and donors have used globalization to their advantage — to assert hegemony over the global agriculture agenda—their critics ought to use those same global forces to advocate for their cause, with the ultimate goal of mobilizing civil society and governments around food sovereignty. This is exactly what the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project aimed to do. By documenting examples of local agricultural innovations, the project showed concretely that other pathways for agricultural development are indeed possible.

Kenya: Food Sovereignty – A Way to Achieve Food Security

Origin of the article here

Food sovereignty is a critical alternative to food security that asserts that not all ways of realizing food security are equal, says Victor Odula – GEN Ambassador from Kenya. He reports about the Rodi Ecovillage´s initiative to improve nutrition on the shores of the Lake Victoria.

Rodi Ecovillage Development Initiatives is a community organization whose goals are to reduce poverty, and improve nutrition and the health of the rural poor, while improving the profitability and sustainability of horticulture. The initiative has also established a school for orphans and vulnerable children in Homa Bay County, along the shores of Lake Victoria, in Kenya.
Nutrition, food security and sufficient family incomes are challenges in many parts of the world. Hunger and malnutrition are often linked to poverty. Providing economic opportunities through horticultural farming not only help family incomes, but also addresses food security and nutrition. The main determinant of food insecurity is the vulnerability of people, which in turn is induced by poverty.

Integrated farming methods
An integrated farming model is being practiced by Rodi Township organization to improve food security and livelihoods. The group has an integrated agricultural system to incorporate both livestock and crop production. This practice has helped the group to supply tissue banana seedlings to community members – thus scaling-up banana production; provision of agricultural extension services; and income generation. Furthermore, the same organization has influenced the youth in the area to consider agriculture as a productive and sustainable enterprise. Other agricultural products realized by the group are green-grams, butternuts, beans and sorghum, and the rearing of local goats and poultry.

From the farm proceeds, the group members have been able to support education, medication, clothing and nutrition requirements of the orphans under its care. The community has benefitted from accessing food supplies and learning improved farming practices. The community has learnt the importance of integrated farming, which is economical and environmentally friendly.

There is limited wastage: “Our poultry consume the spoilt vegetables like tomatoes and kales that we used to throw away in the past. Any other wastes are used to fertilize the farms upon which we grow cereals”, narrates Mr. Alex Okello, the Director.

The organization now focuses on the seven pillars of food sovereignty, whereby they ensure the rights of people to healthy and culturally sound sustainable methods, and the right to define their own food and agriculture system.

E-Mail: victorodula@yahoo.com

What is business development?

This great post is was originally posted here and a whole series of posts on business development here
“I do biz dev.”

Few times in history have more ambiguous words been spoken. Ask ten “VPs of Business Development” or similarly business card-ed folks what is business development, and you’re like to get just as many answers.

“Business development is sales,” some will say, concisely.

“Business development is partnerships,” others will say, vaguely.

“Business development is hustling,” the startup folks will say, evasively.

The assortment of varied and often contradictory responses to the basic question of “what, exactly, is business development” reminds me of the way physicists seek to explain what, exactly, is the universe. With conflicting theories on the nature of black holes and bosons, the ultimate goal for those scientists is a Grand Unified Theory, a single definition that can elegantly explain how the universe itself operates at every level.

Lacking any concise explanation of what business development is all about, I sought to unite the varied forces of business development into one comprehensive framework. And eureka, for I have found it – the Grand Unified Theory of business development:

Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.

There is elegance in simplicity, but perhaps this definition leaves you wanting more. At its heart, business development is all about figuring out how the interactions of those forces combine together to create opportunities for growth. But a theorem requires a proper proof, so let’s break that statement down:

Long-Term Value

First, what do I mean by “long-term value?” In its simplest form, “value” is cash, money, the lifeblood of any business (but it can also be access, prestige, or anything else a company seeks in order to grow). And there are plenty of ways to make a quick buck for you or your company. But business development is not about get-rich-quick schemes and I-win-you-lose tactics that create value that’s gone tomorrow as easily as it came today. It’s about creating opportunities for that value to persist over the long-term, to keep the floodgates open so that value can flow indefinitely. Thinking about business development as a means to creating long-term value is the only true way to succeed in consistently growing an organization.

Customers

The “customers” portion of the definition may be slightly more obvious – customers pay the bills. They are the people who pay you for your products and services, and without them you won’t have any business to develop. But not everyone is a natural customer for your business. Maybe your product doesn’t have the features I’m looking for. Maybe your product is perfect, but I don’t even know your company sells it. Or maybe you’re not reaching me because you’re not knocking on my door.

Markets

That’s because customers “live” in specific markets. One way to understand markets is by geography – if I only focus on selling in the U.S. but you reside in London, then you are currently unavailable to me as a customer as I do not currently reach the European market. But customers also “live” in markets that are defined by their demographics, lifestyles, and buying mindset. Identifying opportunities to reach new customers by entering into new markets is one important gateway to unlocking long-term value.

Take for example the Pet Owners market. The customers who live there, of course, are people who own cats, dogs, fish, etc. Petco is a company that clearly sells to customers who live in the Pet Owners market. I, on the other hand, do not have a pet. I don’t live in the Pet Owner market. So what if Petco wanted to sell something to me? Then they’d need to find a way to enter into a market where I do live. For example, I have red-hair and pale skin and as such, I am prone to spontaneously combusting when exposed to the sun. Therefore, one market that I “live” in is the Sunscreen Buyers market. If Petco wanted to sell something to me, perhaps they can find a way to enter into that market by offering sunscreen, hats, or sun-reflecting aluminum foil suits. Now, determining whether that’s a good idea or not for Petco to do so is a job for the business development team – and another story for another blog post.

Relationships

And then there were “relationships.” Just as the planets and stars rely on gravity to keep them in orbit, any successful business development effort relies on an underlying foundation of strong relationships. Building, managing, and leveraging relationships that are based on trust, respect, and a mutual appreciation of each other’s value is fundamental to enabling the flow of value for the long-term. Relationships with partners, customers, employees, the press, etc. are all critical to the success of any business development effort and as such they demand a bold-faced spot in any comprehensive definition of the term.

So, is business development actually sales? Is it partnerships? Is it all about hustling? Well, frankly, yes. It’s all of the above and as we’ll see in future posts, it’s much more. It’s a complicated and fascinating discipline that deserves a clear understanding, so that we can marvel at the beauty of a well-done deal as much as the stars.

More Africa countries seen growing GM crops

(Reuters) – An increasing number of African countries are likely to start growing genetically modified crops, with Kenya leading the way, after the continent for years has lagged in global adoption of the technology.

Africa is under increasing pressure to grow more food as its population increases. Although genetically modified (GM) crops might help boost output, some African countries have banned GM, fearing it could be harmful to humans and animals, hamper exports and hurt small farmers.

South Africa was the continent’s sole cultivator of GM maize, cotton and soybeans until 2008, when Egypt began growing GM maize, and Burkina Faso started growing GM cotton.

Now Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Mali, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana are conducting research and field trials of GM crops including maize, rice, wheat, sorghum and cotton, which could prove to be the first step toward adoption.

“There is increasing support to test biotech in several African countries,” said Diran Makinde, director of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise.

Other countries are keenly watching to see whether Kenya adopts the technology, said Felix Mmboyi, deputy director of Africa Biotechnology. In East Africa’s biggest economy, GM imports have been a controversial issue.

Kenya now is looking to conduct open trials of GM crops this year after enacting biosafety regulations, the main hurdle that had been holding them back. Industry officials expect the draft regulations to be published in May.

“Kenya will be open to cultivate GM crops. I can assure you Kenya will be the fourth country to allow GMO,” Mmboyi said.

Ephraim Mukisira, a director at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, said: “We should rely on biotechnology to prevent further losses in yields and performance of crops. We need to expedite scientific methods that reduce time needed to develop new crop varieties.”

RED TAPE

Beyond the usual debates about GM effects on health and the environment, there have also been concerns the presence of GM crops might reduce export opportunities — a key reason that Zambia banned them years ago.

Potential legal pitfalls pose another concern.

Makinde said 23 countries in Africa have biosafety laws but with ‘strict liability’ clauses, which make someone liable for any mishaps, without the need to prove any fault on their part.

“No private sector will invest in a country where they can be sued for the slightest or even imaginary damage. This is a no-go area for the biotech crop developer,” said Makinde.

The high costs of GM are another hurdle for Africa’s small farmers, who account for 70 percent of the region’s population and 60 percent of its agricultural output. GM can add to the difficulties of poor farmers in competing with commercial farms.

“Subjecting (small-scale farmers) to GMs would mean that they will lose control over their seeds and that they have to constantly depend on suppliers for seeds every season. How will they afford this?” asked Josephine Akia, policy and advocacy officer at the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda.

In South Africa, the GM maize area was recorded at 1.878 million hectares in 2009 — the latest year for which figures are available — with small-scale farmers cultivating only 19,000 hectares of the total.

“You can’t market GM technology as being a way out of poverty for small-scale farmers … if you do that you are being dishonest,” said Mariam Mayet, director of the African Center for Biosafety.

UNTAPPED MARKET

Nevertheless, GM crops have expanded so rapidly in other areas that African countries are not likely to fend them off much longer.

A report issued by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) shows that an 87-fold increase in crop area was recorded globally between 1996 and 2010, making biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture.

The continent’s untapped market has caught the attention of big U.S. firms DuPont and Monsanto, which are pushing to sell GM seeds on the continent.

Growing foreign investment in African agriculture is likely to bring a greater interest in GM crops as well.

“Investors’ appetite is increasing for investing in African agriculture. The combination of fertile land and the demand for soft commodities in Africa makes it a good case,” said Bernd Schanzenbaecher, a partner in EBG Capital, an asset management and advisory boutique.

Meanwhile, countries such as Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa and Zimbabwe have enacted biosafety laws, removing what had been a major hindrance to GM adoption. Most other African governments are also drafting guidelines and regulations.

“Of course we must be alert and responsible in the development of GM crops … but if we are really serious about food security in Africa, emotional propaganda about these issues will never get us there,” South Africa’s deputy agriculture minister, Pieter Mulder, said earlier this month.

Researchers say that with food prices expected to be high in 2011, African countries need to work hard to ensure there are enough calories on the continent.

“Biotech is not going to fix all the problems, but it has the potential to make a difference,” said Johannesburg scientist Sandy Evans, speaking for biotechnology group AfricaBio.

(Additional reporting by Beatrice Gachenge in Nairobi and Elias Biryabarema in Kampala, Editing by Ed Stoddard and Jane Baird)

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