The ability to impact the livelihood of over 200,000 people directly as a result of RVC operations confers responsibility as well as opportunity. In the face of entrenched poverty, population growth and challenges to sustainable land use, RVC, through a combination of direct employment, employment creation and out-grower support, can justify claims to impact the prosperity, food security and prospects of the poorest families in the region.
DIRECT EMPLOYMENT AND JOB CREATION
Direct employment numbers vary according to seasonal or developmental demands within operations, yet the scale of RVC’s direct employment remains consistent. A possible reduction in employee numbers as a result of Matanuska Africa banana operation's restructuring could begin through 2016 (see Challenges to Sustainability section on page 22 for a summary of the Matanuska scenario in the face of disease).
Included in our measurable impact are indirect employment and job creation metrics. These figures include those people that are directly employed by commercial and small-scale farmers that RVC directly contracts, on the basis that there is a cause and effect between the farmer's ability to operate and RVC's input provision and financing. Employment as a result of small business development (SME's) through electrification has also been included as Rift Valley Energy has directly impacted the growth of this sector in rural Tanzania. Total jobs created are multiplied by five to reflect the total number of people, (immediate family beneficiaries) impacted by RVC employment.
SUPPORTING SMALL-SCALE FARMERS
Our Tea, Tobacco and Northern Farming operations combine to impact over 9,000 small-scale growers. Evidence of significant improvement to yield volume and quality as a result of RVC inputs and training is widespread. Records show that our agronomists have impacted the skills and capacity of farmers to increase yields by as much as 500% in some instances. With hundreds of household incomes improved, entire communities have also seen increased prosperity.
Whilst tea grower numbers remain consistent, tobacco and maize/wheat growers have scaled down over the last two seasons. The reason for this reduction is due to a combination of factors, including a simple strategy to focus on the best performing farmers. Growers that practice 'side-selling' (crop sales to open-market buyers to avoid input repayment to RVC) and debt default have exposed RVC to significant financial risk and are rejected from further supply contracts.
DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNITY INCOME GENERATING PROJECTS
A focus within our 2020 development strategy is to increase the impact of our small business and community entrepreneurial innovation development. We have begun This program with the introduction of pilot projects providing small business models to communities. These projects are specifically designed to inspire women to develop small businesses. To date, beekeeping in Zimbabwe and Mozambique as well as jam/preserve making (in collaboration with Zimbabwean NGO AWIDE - African Women's Initiative in Developing Economics), have begun. We await impact data on production and harvest before replication and scaling up these projects.
We have calculated that RVC's impact on employment creation and improved agriculture combines to deliver meaningful improvements to the livelihoods and the prosperity of over 200,000 people. Whilst we aim to improve our capacity to deliver the most appropriate and valuable impact, especially to promote the participation of youth in agriculture, our ability to measure our impact also improves. By careful data collection from CSR projects, growers and energy customers, measurement of impact can help us identify where resources should be spent for maximum effect. What is clear is that RVC can provide long-term solutions to some of the most pressing issues effecting Africa's economic stability. This impact on employment creation and food security is a priority contribution.
The impact of Rift Valley Energy (RVE) on small business development is also growing. Electrification brings an enormous impact on the ability to expand business within communities. In collaboration with a PHD student from Flensburg University, Germany, a study is currently underway to better measure the socio-economic impact of electrification. In addition, RVE is collaborating with the NGOs GVEP and the Forest Development Trust, as part of the "productive use of electricity" initiative.
Mr Ncube with a Northern Farming agronomist
On joining NF, James Ncube was introduced to
Conservation Farming (CA) through NF training
programmes designed to tutor small-scale farmers. In
2014, the region saw excellent growing conditions and
the combination of CA techniques and good rains
brought James an enormous increase in yield: 5.3 tons
per hectare from previous bests of less than 1 ton per
hectare. 2015 season has been poor for maize farmers
in his area, but he has still managed a respectable 3.5
tons, despite the adverse conditions.
An electrified maize grinding mill
The completion of Mwenga Hydro two years ago has
seen the rural distribution project undertake
construction of almost 100km of 33kV power lines and
installation of 21 transformers that supply 14 villages.
In addition, a 45km low voltage distribution network
has been laid within those 14 villages, which currently
hold more than 1,250 connected customers. RVE
therefore currently provides services to benefit directly
or indirectly approximately 24,000 people within the
current project area, through school, clinic, home and
Over the course of the next 18 months RVE expects to
add a total of 18 new villages to the network, taking
the total number of villages supplied to 32. This would
effectively bring electricity to the reach of
approximately 65,000 people who live in the rapidly developing area.