Great Lakes Region: Agriculture productivity, income generation and food security

Project completed

The program will promote a stronger and more productive agricultural sector that can contribute significantly to a reduction of food insecurity in the region. It emphasizes a market driven approach while at the same time paying attention to farmers with more limited access to markets. Four elements will be addressed: creation of local agribusinesses, sustainable intensification of smallholder production, market development and value addition, and innovation for enabling policy and business climate.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
The Great Lakes Region
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Agricultural development
Employment creation
01.08.2012 - 31.08.2016
CHF  10’083’000

In the Great Lakes region agriculture offers best oppor-tunities for spurring economic growth for 5 million rural households and to lift them out of poverty. The sector however has been heavily affected by conflicts and is yet to recover from poor rural infrastructure and weak market linkages. Dominated up to 80% by subsistence farming, agriculture productivity is far below the poten-tial and constrained by low soil fertility, land degrada-tion, and post-harvest losses. In addition increasing population pressure diminishes the amount of land amount available per household. The farmers have lim-ited access to services, they lack the means to invest in their farms as well as the capacities for market integration. 20-40% of these households are chronically food insecure, malnourished and trapped in poverty. Government plans do recognize the role of agriculture as driver of economic growth and poverty reduction as well as its importance in achieving food security. The policies aim at agricultural intensification along with agricultural sector development, job creations and mar-ket integration.


Farmer households increase agriculture productivity and income. Agribusinesses create additional employment in the Great Lakes Region.

Target groups

Emerging smallholders (=farmers that can accept reasonable risk, show an advanced level of technical knowledge and better receptivity to improved technology and tend to market their production surplus; 0.5–2 ha). This group of farmers is expected to have a pilot and training function in farmer groups covering additional smallholders (women and men) of< 0.5 ha too. Additional target group addressed through SDC support mainly: Women and men farmers with limited market access. Beneficiaries reached directly through agribusiness cluster approach such as owners of SMEs, service providers and business support services and indi-rectly through mega-clusters such as workers & day laborers, women and men farmers with less than 0.5 ha of land that learn from the demonstration effect, and consumer of better and cheaper food.

Medium-term outcomes

  • Agribusiness clusters are dynamic and integrated into market networks
  • Smallholder improve production & productivity
  • Competitive value chains create added value and provide for national and international markets
  • Stakeholder networks address key agribusiness challenges from sustainable intensification up to policies
  • Key impact by the end of the project By the end of the program 1’000’000 smallholder farmers will have seen their incomes increased by 30 percent; together they will have produced additional marketable 1.4 million metric tons of cereal equiva-lents, contributing to food security in Rwanda, Bu-rundi and North/South Kivu in the DRC.
  • Results

    Results from previous phases:  

    CATALIST-1 (2006-2012; not SDC supported) 250,000 farmers have substantially increased their crop production and ISFM (Integrated Soil Fertility Manage-ment) has proven to be a viable method to increase agricultural productivity. Project-affiliated farmers have been able to increase investments in their own well-being as well as in their farms. The program’s focus on storage and credit has increased the economic resil-ience of these farmers. Through value chain develop-ment, strong agribusinesses have been created. Les-sons showed that for real impact, it will be important to have a clear outreach strategy, which combines out-sourcing in terms of achieving sustained capacities, out-scaling and institutionalization. CATALIST-2 will build on these experiences and further develop an outreach strategy focusing on the promo-tion of local agribusiness clusters and regional integra-tion. It will integrate new approaches paying attention to the high level of female farmers and farmers with limited markets access.

    Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
    Credit area Development cooperation
    Project partners Contract partner
    International or foreign NGO
    • Other international or foreign NGO North
    • SDC Field Office
    • IFDC (International Fertilizer Development Center); WUR-CDI (Wageningen University and Research Cen-tre) (subcontracted by IFDC);

    Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    10’083’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    9’882’127
    Project phases

    Phase 1 01.08.2012 - 31.08.2016   (Completed)