One of the yam farmers in Oturkpo in Benue State Nigeria. Picture credit Faith Abah, coordinator North Central Nigeria.
2020 was a challenging year for everyone but it was also a year many showed resilience; giving support when and where it was needed most. The Food Bridge vzw is grateful for the opportunities 2020 brought; enabling us to support agrofood entrepreneurs and still provide food to those that needed help .
Despite the challenges of 2020, we were able to organize different seminars for agrofood entrepreneurs, the Humanitas Project, the 2020 African Diaspora Agrofood Forum, FoodcationBXL, a succesful campaign under the Helping Hand project, a Food Santa campaign and also complete the second phase of our Food Heritage Project.
One of the objectives we will focus on more in 2021, is economic empowerment through agrofood entrepreneurship. Having completed the second phase of the Food Heritage Project, which supports rural African farmers to grow nutritious crops, we want to create a direct link between the farmers and the consumers. Covid 19 is a challenge but highlighted the need for healthy food especially plant based food. Thus we want to insure these crops and plants reach more consumers. With the expansion of the project to include more farmers, our target this year is to grow more crops including those that are alternative sources of protein. There is also a need for more collaboration with universities near our project to help with scientific authentication of some crops. However the universities have limited funds to collaborate on such an action, without funds from us.
The trial phases provided us an opportunity to understand the challenges these farmers encounter daily, which range from farming inputs to having adequate resources for their families. Hence accessing premium markets is a target for 2021. We hope to connect these rural farmers to consumers in local and international markets. To achieve these, basic digital tools and skills are a necessity, so we provided some of the farmers with mobile phones to enable them communicate effectively and also follow trainings via Whatsapp. The communication between the coordinators and the farmers have improved tremendously since they received the phones.
We are also continuing the support for the education of some of the farmers' children, by paying school fees, buying books and school uniforms. We are proactively looking for sponsors for some of these students.
With the farmers' improved source of income through this project, the positive impact reflects on the community too. A major challenge we foresee in 2021 is funding for the project. We welcome donations of funds, mobile phones and school materials.
You can make a donation to ;
The Food Bridge vzw
BNP Paribas Fortis
IBAN: BE33 0017 5988 5346
On 14th of December 2020, the Food Bridge had a webinar for agrofood entrepreneurs in Nigeria. This webinar is an introduction to an agrofood entrepreneurship training for Africans planned for 2021. The aim is to equip the participants with the resources and knowledge they need to access premium markets.
In her opening remark, the founder of the Food Bridge informed the participants that the Food Bridge vzw is interested in supporting the work they do because it is not just relevant to the food security of the countries but also to the African Diasporas across the globe. However, she pointed out that producers need to have the right standards especially regarding food security and ethics to retain their niche in the African Diaspora food market.
This training will have 7 modules. The trainer Ms Veronica Rubio, a senior adviser at Vectra International Belgium while presenting the first module - Leading your way, focused on motivating the participants to think as leaders in the sector, to build a brand that is recognizable and worthy of accessing premium markets. The training as planned will go from the micro perspective covering opportunity assessment, value proposition, story development to price and access management.
Using the organic food market as an example of potential premium markets, she noted that no African country is in the list of top 10 exporters of organic products to Europe. This lack access to the market can either be seen as a challenge or an opportunity. Furthermore using examples from countries such as China, India and Ecuador, she elucidates some of the factors that may have helped these countries become strong in this sector. Of importance is the need to have a recognizable brand supported by functioning infrastructure, good narratives and cultural stories linked to the organic system of farming.
You can watch the video of this introductory session on our Youtube or Facebook pages.
The Helping Hand Project