During the first half year of 2022 the four CROPS4HD countries have successfully established the launch of their first Participatory Market Chain Approach (PMCA) event. In Chad, this first event took place on the 18th of June in N’Djamena. This approach aims to bring together farmers, market agents and other service providers to identify and create a business opportunity through the creation of new products from NUS and non-NUS crops. This represents a major activity of CROPS4HD project and therefore requires good preparation because it is important to find the potential actors and then group them together to form some potentials synergies.
The event was attended by around 100 participants. Among these participants there were actors from different backgrounds: producers, wholesalers, retailers, processors of agricultural products, incubators, cooking schools, restaurants and hotels, graphic designers, NGOs and associations, banks, and microfinance institutions. As mentioned, the purpose of such an event is, on one hand, to bring together actors who could potentially create some synergy and mostly it is about awareness creation of the importance of agroecological products and particularly on Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS). Furthermore, it is a place which promotes the sharing of ideas and innovations with the objective of generating interest in promoting new resilient products to the market with potentially specifics demand (e.g. schools).
To provide a comprehensive awareness of the NUS, the SWISSAID Chad team with the support of FiBL had organised several activities during this day. General presentations were given on the benefits of NUS such as nutritional and therapeutic benefits as well as food use, but also a more specific presentation on the results of the characterisation of the 12 NUS. A theatrical performance was also prepared to bring attention to the topic of healthy eating and to present the objectives of CROPS4HD project. Moreover, in order to promote and raise awareness in an other way, product stands with varieties of NUS products such as pea coffee, fonio flour, jam of hibiscus juice, and much more were organised during the breaks throughout the day. A full meal of NUS products was also offered during lunch. These breaks were also intended to provide a space for exchanges between participants and thus enable possible business opportunities.
These business opportunities were reinforced as part of the thematic group’s session during the second part of the day. Three thematic groups were created, each focusing on different products: one group on cereals, legumes and oleaginous (fonio, ground peas and sesame), a second group on market gardening (okra, eggplant, and sorrel) and the last group on other agro-ecological products (moringa and African locust bean). The purpose of these groups is to create the exchange between the different actors in relation to their business ambitions and interest. There was a high level of enthusiasm from these participants, and this was also reflected in the number of final participants who took part in each group, which ranged from 20 to 27 people.
Following this first event, two other events will follow with the aim of strengthening synergies. To strengthen, supervise and guide the groups, two facilitators from the SWISSAID Chad team are involved with the actors. In addition, the actors themselves have taken the initiative to create a discussion channel via WhatsApp to exchange. At this stage, discussions are lively within these groups, which clearly demonstrates the interest in this project.