Cracking the Nut conference

Cracking the Nut conference

27-28 March 2017. Bangkok, Thailand. This conference focused on cracking the tough nuts associated with reinforcing food systems to meet urban demand.

​Connexus Corporation with USAID, RTI International, CRS, and Chemonics International to organized this two-day learning event, which raised awareness of the changing demographics impacting global demand and supply of food, and highlight how food systems are transforming, linking rural to urban markets, and responding to changing food preferences, especially in urban areas of developing countries.

This two-day event brought together approximately 300 of the world’s leading industry thought leaders from private sector companies, financial institutions, investors, donors, and development practitioners to discuss “tough nuts” related reinforcing food systems and urban demand.
  1. ​​Scaling technology and innovation for agriculture: In what ways is innovation being used to develop agricultural capacity and shape food systems? How can new and existing technologies be scaled to increase rural production and meet the growing needs of urban consumers? What will ensure that innovations can be used and adapted by actors within the value chains
  2. Improving sustainability and food security of urban markets: As population is growing, especially in urban areas, what systems and mechanisms are needed to ensure all people have access to sufficient nutritious foods at prices they can afford? What types of finance and investment are needed to transform food systems and better link the rural to urban supply chain?
  3. ​Facilitating links from rural to urban parts of a supply chain: How can we strengthen the “connective tissues” between rural smallholders and supply chain actors that are linked to urban demand? How can we help rural suppliers better interpret and respond to changing urban preferences?


  • Reducing Post-Harvest Loss with AflaSTOP in Kenya and Tanzania – Sophie Walker (ACDI/VOCA) Strengthening Post-harvest losses and food safety are critical issues affecting food security. The AflaSTOP: Storage and Drying for Aflatoxin Prevention project targeted post-harvest methods to mitigate aflatoxin increases at the smallholder level. Aflatoxin enters the food chain when crops are still in the field and moves to urban markers as smallholders sell their surplus. The project established that hermetic storage significantly prevents aflatoxin increases during storage, but drying maize is a key constraint for farmers. Using a human centric approach, AflaSTOP carried out a cyclical approach to technology development, with research, design, building and testing, being repeated to come up with a portable affordable maize dryer suitable for smallholder volumes. The objective of this workshop is to share the results of this technology development process and discuss key lessons learned in moving from pilot to scale-up as well as the applicability of the model in other countries and with other crops.
  • Rural to Urban Linkages with ICT Platforms in Africa – Karis McGill (RTI International), Jean Michel Voisard (IRG, a subsidiary of RTI International) and Hillary Miller-Wise (ESOKO)


  • Climate-Smart Dairy Enterprises for Sustainable Access to Quality MilkMartin Waweru and Joachim Kutoyi (Catholic Relief Services)
    The Kiambu Dairy Project is sustainably increasing the production of quality milk in Kiambu County, which borders Nairobi, one of the fastest growing cities in East Africa. The use of the Milk ATMs has reduced the cost of pasteurized milk for low income urban populations by removing the packaging costs and has also improved milk hygiene by reducing the number of unregistered milk hawkers in the cities.
  • Transforming the Rice Supply Chain in SenegalJean Michel Voisard and Mamadou Diop

    (IRG, a subsidiary of RTI International)
    Senegal has emerged as a leader in private sector-driven agricultural development, thanks to a combination of prudent government policies, a growing private sector, targeted donor interventions, and relative economic, political and social stability. Senegal,is today rolling back the once-dominant imports from Asia.


  • Strengthening Market Linkages in Ghana – Amanda Grevey and Alison Ion (Palladium) 
  • Outgrower Business Models in GhanaDr. Emmanuel Dorman and Nicholas Issaka Gbana (ACDI/VOCA)
    Surveys amongst commodity buyers in Ghana have shown that the demand for maize, paddy rice and soybean are far from met in the country that imports most of its milled rice, maize and soymeal. To address this issue, USAID/Ghana’s ADVANCE project has established an outgrower business model (OBM) to increase production and link rural farmers to urban markets and processors.


This brief (5 pages) highlights AflaSTOP’s design and business model development process, spotlights the EasyDry M500, and reflects on scale up potential and next steps for full market diffusion.


This brief (6 pages) explores hermetic storage’s important role with respect to aflatoxin, while also highlighting its relevance to other critical development concerns such as reducing post-harvest losses and supporting commercial solutions. It presents four evidencebased benefits of hermetic storage, building on the investments of USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Kenya through the AflaSTOP program.

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