The Context Global Development™ receives funding to explore productivity gains for two key crops in West Africa’s low-rainfall regions

Winter 2017

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – (April 12, 2016) Context Global Development™ (CGD) has received a $4 million USD grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a new program entitled, “Realizing Sorghum and Millet Agricultural Productivity Gains in the Sahel.” The two-year program aims to realize agricultural productivity gains for smallholder farmers (SHF) growing sorghum and pearl millet in the Sahelian zones of Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria. The initiative will examine the extent and role these crops play in farmers’ livelihoods, identifying key factors in farmers’ crop investment decisions. In addition, it will pilot four new approaches designed to address various constraints.

CGD Program Director Will Rogers said, “Relatively little is understood about how these crops feature in farmers’ households, and what that means for their production spending decisions. We believe this program will build a more complete understanding that will help unlock the region’s historically low yields and truly improve the lives of farmers and their broader communities.”

The majority of households in the Sahelian zones of West Africa rely on sorghum and/or pearl millet as an integral part of their food security, particularly in regions where average total annual rainfall is <800mm. Although improved seed varieties and agronomic practices have been researched and developed to increase productivity of these crops, these advancements are not evident in most farmers’ fields. Accordingly, yields in these zones remain extremely low, with many households experiencing a food shortage each year. Pearl millet and sorghum yields in Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria, in fact, are up to 54% lower than other countries in Africa.

CGD will work closely with four sub-grantee partners: myAgro, Self Help Africa (SHA), Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). CGD will develop a cohesive learning agenda, perform ongoing data collection and site visits for the four pilot approaches. Further, CGD will aggregate and analyze findings from the pilots, and deliver focused recommendations that identify scalable and sustainable program models for further replication.

CGD Managing Director Mark Nelson says, “We formed Context Global Development, a sister organization of The Context Network, on the belief that increased productivity or market access will lead to smallholder farmers realizing greater value from their agricultural production. We’re thrilled to partner with the Gates Foundation to implement this important program to unlock agricultural productivity challenges for two vital crops for Sahelian farmers and their families.”

The Context Network® is the world’s premier business management and strategy consulting firm providing services to agriculture, biotechnology, and food companies, and to government entities and NGOs. We help each client achieve remarkable results and advance agriculture via customized business solutions. Major areas of expertise include: strategy development, opportunity analysis, R&D assessments, merger and acquisition support, product/portfolio management, regulatory compliance, industry benchmarking, competitive intelligence, and marketing intelligence/ research. Context is comprised of a core of professional executive consultants and is complemented by a global network of hundreds of industry and subject matter experts on-site worldwide.