STARS

Strengthening African Rural Smallholders, in short STARS, is a five-year (2017 – 2021) project in partnership with Mastercard Foundation and ICCO Terrafina. Through a market system development approach the project focuses on improving access to finance and markets for 210,000 smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal and Burkina Faso. The project plans to have an overall impact in the lives of more than 1 million people.

Country

Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal

Start Project

2017

The Challenge

While 55 percent of Africa’s population is engaged in agricultural activities, only approximately 1 percent of bank lending across the continent goes to the agricultural sector. Perceived risk and lack of expertise are the most significant reasons that most banks and microfinance institutions have not yet started offering agriculture finance products.

Yet, providing smallholder farmers with access to credit is essential to unlocking long-term, sustainable gains in farmer productivity and incomes. Without financing, smallholder farmers cannot afford quality seeds and fertilizer. They are unable to purchase or rent equipment that increase efficiency and reduce labor costs, or afford the training services needed to maximize seed and fertilizer application.

Finally, without access to credit, a farmer might be compelled to sell any crop surplus immediately after harvest, when prices are typically at a seasonal low.

What is STARS?

STARS in Ethiopia

Approach

In each of the four countries, STARS has a specialized Market Systems Development (MSD) team partnering with the private sector, Producer Organizations (POs), the private sector and various government bodies to create lasting change for smallholder farmers. STARS’ strategy is based on three core pillars:

1.Access to finance

STARS is partnering with 19 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the four countries to develop innovative tailor-made financial products for smallholder farmers. STARS also builds the capacity of MFIs on better risk management by using the Agri-Credit Assessment Tool (A-CAT), developed by ICCO Terrafina Microfinance and ICCO Cooperation. The tool is used by MFIs to characterize the economic performance of a crop.  STARS also support MFIs in business planning and business plan development and in capitalization through deposit mobilization and international refinance.

By the end of 2019, STARS has supported MFIs to develop 20 new financial products, allowing more than 146,000 farmers to access finance through agri-group loans, agri-individual loans, warehouse lending, value chain specific credit and savings.

2.Value Chain Development

Through the market systems development approach, STARS is working to improve smallholder farmers agricultural skills and their position within the value chain. By providing them with access to (fee-based) business development services, and by linking them with input suppliers, farmers can increase their yields and income. STARS also links farmers to markets by building the capacities of 119 Producer Organizations (POs) and by organizing Business-to-Business events, bringing together the private sector, governmental actors, MFIs and POs. 

By the end of 2019, farmers received trainings on good agricultural practice trainings (80,000 farmers), were linked to markets and digital market information systems (more than 120,000), and received access to better inputs (40,000).

3. Monitoring, evaluation and learning

This has been set up following a ‘PERL’ approach: Program-Embedded Reflection and Learning. STARS focuses on short adaptive learning cycles with program staff. A Theory of Change for each program country was developed, and linked to Key Performance Indicators to track performance. Simultaneously the STARS team created a Learning Agenda consisting of case studies that meet an information need experienced by program staff, or that can help to better understand program effects. An important component in the new PERL strategy is the quarterly program review meeting in each country linking learning and reflection to adaptive management. 

Key Results

New loans to
146,500 farmers
Financial products
20 loan products
Present in
4 countries

Development of
8 value chains
AG trainings to
80,000 farmers
Household members reached
732,500

Publications 2019

Country Factsheets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publications 2018

Farmer Profiles

report Burkina Faso starsstars report Ethiopia

report rwanda stars

 

 

 

 

Credit Pilot Deep Dives

Farmer Stories

Amy Ndiaye

Cowpea farmer in Tivaoune, Senegal

“This year was the first time in my life to farm commercially. Thanks to the quality inputs that I received through our producer organization and the agricultural training I received, I was able to cultivate 1/2 hectare of cowpeas. I will sell 80% of my harvest directly to the PO CORAPP, while using 20% for household consumption. During one of the trainings on conservation best practices, I learned new recipes for cowpeas. Did you know that you can even brew coffee using cowpea?”

Abdissa Bekele (22 years)

Smallholder farmer in Jaldu Woreda, Ethiopia

“After I joined the Chilanko primary cooperative I heard about the market linkage created by STARS with the potato processing company Senselet Food Processing. I was able to sell quality potatoes to Senselet and to be part of chip bags made by Senselet. We need better seeds and financial services, but I am optimistic about the development of a sustainable market.”

Isabelle Sama

Sesame producer in Dédougou, Burkina Faso

“I was trained on the correct and safe application of pesticides. I also know now how to calculate my profit after deducting all my expenses. I also know the best sewing methods now. Thanks to all this, I have increased my yields. In 2017 I got 520 kg of sesame on one hectare. I made a profit of USD 250 that year. In 2018 I increased my land size to five hectares. Sesame is profitable, this is something I didn’t know before.”

Marie Jeanne Nyiandegeye

Maize farmer in Kamonyi district, Rwanda

“In 2016, I decided to join the producer organization in my village. STARS provided me with agricultural training on maize farming practices and post-harvest management. I also started to use the drying facilities provided by the PO. In 2017, I benefited from the agri-group loan (developed by the MFI CLECAM EJO HEZA through STARS), which I used to invest in my farm. Before 2016, I tried to diversify my farm, but never with a lot of success. Now, thanks to the loan and my knowledge on farming, I doubled my harvest and income.”

News and Blogs

A New Digital Information System in Senegal Bringing Together Agricultural Actors

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Read more about A New Digital Information System in Senegal Bringing Together Agricultural Actors

Cracking the Nut: ICCO’s 4 Lessons to Boost the Onion Value Chain

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Read more about Cracking the Nut: ICCO’s 4 Lessons to Boost the Onion Value Chain

First Field Trip of New CEO: “Building Trust With Banks Is of Utmost Importance”

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Read more about First Field Trip of New CEO: “Building Trust With Banks Is of Utmost Importance”

Shea Producers in Burkina Faso Develop New Business Plans

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Read more about Shea Producers in Burkina Faso Develop New Business Plans

Combating Fungal Diseases in Maize Value Chain in Rwanda

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Read more about Combating Fungal Diseases in Maize Value Chain in Rwanda

Introducing Equipment, Creating Jobs For Youth in Rwanda

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Read more about Introducing Equipment, Creating Jobs For Youth in Rwanda

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Birds, Bees & Business

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