Africa Harvest revises policy manuals to unlock talent for institution growth and development
During the year under review, the Finance, Administration and New Business Development Program revised all policies and manuals to bring them in line with current best-practice and new developments in the market place. Over the years, Africa Harvest staff have been guided by background training and application of Board-approved staff policy manuals. These include the Finance and Accounting Policy, Staff Procedures Manual, Travel Policy, Risk Management Policy, Whistle Blower Policy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy and the Asset Management Policy, all of which are documented in Foundation Manuals as well as some Standard Operating Procedures.
The Finance Policy Manual needed to be updated due to prevalence and wide use of Mobile Money Services like MPesa. Mobile money is a convenient and cheaper way to transfer money, especially for field expenditures. The policy updates were done in consultation with Senior Management Team (SMT), the goal being to improve program operations while maintaining institutional compliance. Another focus of the Finance, Administration and New Business Development Program was working on better conversion rate of pipeline projects to funded projects. This is a work-in-progress and more progress is expected in coming years.
During the year in review, staff development continued through participation in carefully selected local and international workshops, meetings and conferences. Staff were encouraged and participated in trainings, mentorship as well as evaluations and feedback from their supervisors. The organization continued to engage high-level consultants on need-basis from local universities and national research. This is a deliberate strategy to bring in new knowledge and to achieve project goals. In implementation of the Africa Bio-fortified Sorghum (ABS) Project, for example, Africa Harvest engaged Dr. Titus Magomere, an experienced sorghum breeder trained in Canada.
To provide technical expertise and training to the Tissue Culture banana team, Africa Harvest co-opted Dr. Johnstone Kwach from Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) with permission from his Centre Director in Kisii Station. His expertise in disease management skills was critical for field studies in Kenya and Malawi.
Africa Harvest business strategy focuses on regional expansion, diversifying crops of interest and scaling up success models
During the period under review, Africa Harvest’s pipeline projects was very robust; the conversion to funded projects remains an area of focus. Nearly 10 business concepts were at different stages of development. Those with a highest chance of funding were being reviewed by donors.
The business development strategy focused on expansion and consolidation of the Africa Harvest crops of interest. Having successfully expanded from the flagship tissue culture (TC) banana, the organization sought to consolidate its gains in beans and cassava value chains in Kenya and Tanzania. Other crops of interest are sweet potato, potato and pyrethrum.
Africa Harvest’s experience in technology transfer of sorghum varieties to farmers – working with ICRISAT – is being expanded to pearl millet. Both crops are ideal for drylands; Africa Harvest has gained extensive experience working in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs). Africa Harvest also sought to expand its geographical footprint, especially in the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) region. The obvious location to implement this strategy is South Africa.
The organization reached out to the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA), which has been implementing the Rural Enterprise Development (RED) Hubs. An exploratory visit was made and a rapid assessment made of possible areas of intervention and collaboration. Africa Harvest has also made critical engagements in Zambia and Malawi and some project concepts are under development. In Nigeria, Africa Harvest has been in discussion with NABDA and IAR about possible partnership involving the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), which falls under NABDA.