Category Archives: Agroforestry

FinAgri 2018 – Fair on financing agriculture (3th edition)

The network AgriProFocus Niger, in collaboration with its partners, organizes the third edition of the fair on financing agriculture. The FinAgri 2018 will take place on 12 and 13 April in Niamey, Niger. Partners for Innovation hosts the AgriProFocus network in Niger.

FinAgri aims to improve the financing of promising agricultural networks by establishing relations between financing institutions and actors in the agricultural sector.

Specifically, this means:

  • Share information and experiences on FISAN.
  • Exchange knowledge of the experiences and opportunities of financing value chains by banks and MFIs.
  • Exchange knowledge of the main agro/sylvo/pastoral networks of Niger including on the NGOs, OPS and other actors supporting the agricultural sector.
  • Exchange on links in the agricultural value chain and understand their financing needs.
  • Link promoters of promising value chains with banks and microfinance institutions.
  • Commit to working together and create a regular dynamics of information exchange on the financing of value chains.

More information

Read more on the website of AgriProFocus or contact Rakiatou Gazibo.

Successful 4th edition of the Week of Agricultural Entrepreneurship

AgriProFocus Niger organized the 4th edition of the Week of Agricultural Entrepreneurship (SEMEA) in Niamey, Niger in November 2016. Over 8,000 participants from different regions of the country and abroad came together for meaningful exchanges, innovation and building business partnerships.


The African economy is largely dependent on the rural sector (agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry) with an estimated contribution to GDP at 43.2% in 2010. The rural sector occupies 85% of the active population and provides 37% of export earnings (INS, 2014).

However, crises affect agricultural production systems. Vegetable crops, many of which are self-consumed, are characterized by low yields.

The SEMEA is aimed at agricultural development, economic and social development and poverty reduction in Niger. Participants came from farmers’ organizations, government members, NGOs, banks, microfinance institutions, research institutions, youth organizations, retailers and the private sector.

AgriProFocus first organized the Week of Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Niger in 2012. The 2016 edition was organized in collaboration with the YAWWA project of SNV to promote farms, but also entrepreneurs and agribusiness operators. The SEMEA aimed to put youth at the heart of agricultural entrepreneurship.

AgriProFocus is an international multi-stakeholder network in the agri-food sector consisting of farmer entrepreneurs, private sector enterprises, governments, knowledge institutions and civil society organisations. By bringing these stakeholders together, their individual and collective impact increases. AgriProFocus is active in 13 countries in Africa and South-East Asia, and links 22,000 agribusiness professionals worldwide.

In Niger, Partners for Innovation hosts the AgriProFocus network and provides its coordination staff.


Rakia Gazibou

Website Agriprofocus en Agriprofocus Niger

Website SNV

Renewable energy in Africa – 12 years of experience

Two pupils of a secondary school in Roermond ask if they can visit Partners of Innovation in Amsterdam. They are writing a paper on renewable energy in South Africa and are eager to ask Emiel some questions. Having twelve years of experience in the field, Emiel is  happy to share some of his experience and inside information.

¨My work on renewable energy in Africa started when we conducted a research for the European Commission in 2005. We wanted to know more about market opportunities for European companies to invest in renewable energy in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Our involvement was surprising to begin with, because no one of our team had ever been there. But we worked together with 15 local advisors.

The European Commission elected our project proposal because of our approach: not only did we want to explore investment opportunities for companies in Europe, we also focused on the people in the countries there. If we want to make a change for the long term, we need to consolidate activities for and with the people living there.

We selected 5 countries in each continent, 5 from Asia, 5 from Latin America and 5 from Africa. Using data from the World Bank, we could extrapolate our findings from these 15 countries to countries we hadn´t researched. In this way, we were able to provide useful information about more than 100 developing countries.

Core of our approach was the contact we had (and made) with local organizations and experts. We found them by searching the internet. Some people came up more than once in our searches and we knew they played an important role. We asked these experts if they wanted to cooperate and get involved in our project.

Key things we wanted to find out was the do´s and don´ts of renewable project investments by looking at the existing ones. What was working well and what was causing problems? This is vital information for new project ideas. To our surprise, we saw that the majority of projects were donor driven, supported by foreign NGO money. Once the money supply stopped, the activities came to an end too. People were unsufficiently attached to the activities to be able to carry them forward without (financial) help from abroad.

Another thing that led to problems were cultural differences. In a project of Solar Home Systems in Indonesia, we saw that the collection of money from the homes with solar panels installed was a problem. The families didn´t trust the guy who was sent to collect the money. The reason, so it turned out to be, was the age of the young man, an older man didn´t have any problems earning the trust and receiving the money.

In the years after 2005 I focused more and more on Sub Saharan Africa. In both Asia and Latin America there was already much work in progress in renewable energy. In Sub Saharan Africa there´s almost nothing, most of the people don´t even have electricity and use traditional fuels like charcoal and fire wood for cooking.

One project that became a success is Bio2Watt in South Africa. Bio2Watt is aimed at producing biofuels using animal (cow) manure. In 2009 I worked on a project proposal to find suitable fiancial funding for the initial idea. At this moment, it´s the largest producer of biofuels in South Africa and probably the whole of Sub Saharan Africa, supplying the BMW factory.¨

What do you think has the most potential in Sub Sahara Afrika?

¨After having experience with all types of renewable energy projects I believe bioenergy has the best chances of financial viability. In this part of the world people are still very dependent on agriculture. It´s the largest economic sector and therefore has the most potential to get results. Now, a lot of organic waste streams and residues are not being re-used but are potentially a great source of energy. The companies that are successful often grow a combination of crops, and don´t just grow one product.

Currently I´m working on a feasablity study on converting household waste to energy in Ogun State in Nigeria. This is a very interesting project, since it´s a new approach for that region. In many places people still use diesel generators, our project aims at replacing them in the future with more sustainable alternatives.¨

Conference on female entrepreneurship in Niger

Managing Director of Partners for Innnovation Niger, Rakiatou Gazibo, will give a speech on september the 17th at a conference of the Council of Nigerans in France (Conseil des Nigériens de France) in Paris. The conference revolves around  female intrepreneurs who want to start a new business.

On the side lines

Many talented women are apprehensive to start their own business or  merely operate on the side lines. At the conference, women are invited to share their experiences and they can get constructive comments on their ideas and current activities. The Council envisions a dynamic female community and further cooperation with parties concerned.

Entrepreneurs in Niger

Rakiatou Gazibo is an expert in agriculture, livestock and food science entrepreneurship. She promotes rural entrepreneurship -including agroforestry- in smallholder livelihoods, establishing links between both entrepreneurs, government services and financiers. Her activities have a particular concern for women and youth.

Improve the financial position

The event wants to be the springboard for women who have entrepreneurial ambitions. To support them financially, the Council will provide funding in order to enhance women’s financial position.


Read more about the conference on female entrepreneurship in Niger (French)

Contact  Rakia Gazibo (Partners for Innovation)

Read more on:

CoNif en JNF (Journee de la Femme des Nigerienne)

Oxfam Novib project Agroforestry Gardens in Niger


Market opportunities for biogas in Mozambique

Partners for Innovation has carried out a field study for SNV, in order to assess the market opportunities for the application of biogas in Mozambique. The research focused specifically on sanitation and the agri-food sector.

Reasonably strong potential

The main findings are:

The technical potential of applying biogas in Mozambique is reasonable to good in all sectors, except for small households. We see the biggest potential in:

  • agri-food companies
  • large-scale local or municipal sanitation systems
  • sanitation facilities in schools, hospitals and prisons

Not much experience

However, at this moment in Mozambique there is not enough:

  • experience with commercial biogas installations. Although there are some donor financed initiatives, only a few of them are operational.
  • policy aimed at encouraging biogas application
  • knowledge and experience from research institutes and businesses.

Growing interest

And yet the interest for biogas has really taken off. The government, the private sector, donors and knowledge institutes all show an increased attention. If we consider the growing population, urbanisation and the growing agri-food business, we think the potential can only get bigger. The vital fields where opportunities lie are design and construction of installations, services, maintenance and energy supply to industrial companies.

Read all recommendations of the report in the summary-report-mozambique

Contact Emiel Hanekamp



Choices in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – a case study of paper recycling

Using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)  has many benefits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the results of a LCA are determined by the choices the researcher makes. These choices affect indicators, functional unit, allocation and system boundaries. Especially in the circular economy, with its innovations involving recycling, reuse and circular design, LCAs can be quite complex.

An interesting example  of how we need to treat Life Cycle Assessment results very carefully, is the comparison of the life cycles of paper (or board) products produced from virgin and recycled fibres.

An “odd” conclusion

Around 2009 there was an interesting discussion in the Netherlands about a report that compared the environmental impact of different packaging materials. In this report, the CO2 emission over the life cycle of virgin based paper products appeared to be lower than those of recycled fibre based products. To many, this result seemed rather counter-intuitive and asked for further research.

In order to determine whether or not virgin fibre based products had a lower environmental impact, I performed a study together with Jobien Laurijssen. We created an Excel model to map the mass flows and energy use of the main production processes of different paper production routes in detail.

CO2 vs energy footprint

This study demonstrated the huge benefits in terms of energy use over the total life cycle, by using recovered fibre instead of virgin fibres. The main reason was that the energy required to convert wood into pulp for papermaking, is very large, whereas turning recovered paper into pulp on the other hand requires very little energy (note that the quality of the fibres of virgin pulp differs significantly from recovered paper pulp).

What is interesting from a CO2 emission perspective, is that when wood is converted into pulp using chemical pulping, the process, although incredibly energy intensive, does not emit much CO2. The reason for this is that it uses mostly bio-energy to fuel its energy needs. Wood consists partly of cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin. In chemical pulping, only the cellulose is extracted and the rest is burned for energy recovery. This way, you emit virtually no net CO2 emissions because you use bio-fuel. This means that for every tree, you are only using half its mass to produce paper, while using the other half to produce bio-energy.

Different outcome

At the end of the life-cycle, the used paper can be either recycled or incinerated (let’s assume the paper is not landfilled). When assuming that the paper is incinerated for energy recovery, you can argue that this saves CO2 emissions by saving fossil fuels. When recycling the paper on the other hand, one cannot allocate such CO2 savings due to energy recovery. This also reduces the CO2 emissions of virgin fibre paper products in comparison  to using recovered fibres.

As you can see, although intuitively it may seem clear that recycling of paper is beneficial to the environment over using virgin fibres, when you compare the CO2 footprints the results may show a different outcome, depending on the system boundaries that you take into account. From an energy perspective, there is not much discussion, since recycling of paper saves you that highly energy intensive process of turning wood into pulp. But when it comes down to CO2 emissions, the LCA interpretation becomes much more complex.

Expand the system boundaries

So how can we solve this dilemma? Our research shows that a good solution is to expand the boundaries of the LCA system, and include wood as a resource that has to be used in equal amounts in both the production of paper and board from virgin fibres and recycled fibres. If you assume the “saved” wood due to recycling of recovered paper, for direct energy conversion, then the research of Jobien Laurijssen and me clearly shows that using recovered fibres has a much lower environmental impact than using virgin fibres.

Read 3 ways a LCA makes your company more profitable 


Marc Marsidi (paper & board industry)

Thomas Dietz (LCA)

Siem Haffmans (LCA / sustainable packaging)



Opportunities for youth entrepreneurship in Niger

On August 12th, International Youth Day 2016, Partners for Innovation and AgriProFocus organized  an  event where young entrepreneurs met with  financial institutions. Three ministers, three NGOs, two financial institutions, five agricultural organizations, four youth institutions and sixty  entrepreneurs were among the hundred people who attended the meeting. The Nigerian government supports  AgriProFocus’ mission to encourage youth entrepreneurship.

Agroforestry-based Entrepreneurship in Senegal

Partners for Innovation, in collaboration with Oxfam in Senegal,  organised a mini-conference on Agroforestry-based Entrepreneurship in Dakar.  This conference was made possible with help from the Dutch Embassy in Dakar.

During this mini-conference, participants (local mayors, rural development funds and Ministries) discussed the recently developed FarmTree® Approach. Partners for Innovation presented the method’s architecture, in which Agroforestry technical options are stored in Regional Databases. A “Plot Planning” dashboard then allows producers to select the options of their choice and directly calculates a 15-year cash flow plan for the plot to be treated. Field-level partners Experna and SY-AFD presented two thus prepared Agroforestry Business Plans.

Participants al  not only expressed interest in the business planning qualities of the FarmTree® Tool, but also in the opportunity to complement ecological monitoring with economic value for local entrepreneurs.

Partners for Innovation and Oxfam see opportunities to use this method for developing agriculture systems resilient to climate change.


More info?

To find out more on our method and  the FarmTree® approach please contact  Frank van Schoubroeck.


Week of Rural Entrepreneurship, Niger

Rural entrepreneurship has the potential to drive innovations that can reduce poverty, increase access to food and create employment. The Agri-ProFocus Network with help of Partners for Innovation SARL Niger is organising a week-long event to promote rural entrepreneurship in Niger.
This event will bring together actors from West-Africa who will discuss the recent proceedings of Entrepreneurial Agroforestry through various projects. There will be special sessions about Financing Rural Entrepreneurship as well as about Entrepreneurial Agroforestry in Niger.

More Information

Would you like to know more? Contact Rakiatou Gazibo or Frank van Schoubroeck

Fiche Sponsorship-SEMEA Niger

New colleague : Adamou Salissou

We have strenghtened our team in West-Africa with a new advisor: Adamou Salissou, specialist Agroforestry.

Adamou Salissou previously worked as head division of Reforestation, Land and Landscape Management for the Ministry of Environment in Niger.  Before he worked at different International Organisations with a focus on Climate Change, Agroforestry and Economic Development.

Adamou has an engineering degree in Forestry Technology and specialised with masters in both Project Management and Climate Change and Sustainable Develoment (University of Niamey).

More information: