Collaboration

We were sitting around the table in a meeting with 3 different INGO’s (International Non-Governmental Agency). Each one has a different focus and strength and the reason they are all sitting together is very simply – to collaborate. To bring their strengths together, to benefit each other and the community they will be working in – essentially to become the missing link in each other’s activity in order to create a complete picture.

The beauty of this collaboration for me lies in the fact that while one of these actors will look into preventing malnutrition in pregnant mothers and children, a second one will be looking into how to increase the per household income to enable these families to afford food and a third one will be looking into connecting these small-holding farmers with the formal market to ensure that they get the right price.

Each on its own does make an impact but together their work can be formidable. While projects are run with a definite starting and ending date, each one of their work on its own do not achieve the same level of impact or sustain the results quite as well, as it would together. To leave a family aware of their nutritional needs without the ability to meet that need is almost as hopeless as enabling someone to earn more money and eat more junk because they have no knowledge or awareness of the nutrition value of food. I have also been on field visits where I have seen farmers frustrated to high heaven due to over production of a particular crop which only manages to lower the selling price locally.

When all of these are done together the whole picture can and do change. As families become more aware of the nutritional value of food, they are more likely to choose to eat fresh fruits and vegetables that they can grow locally in their own gardens. Most people (even my own immediate family members) do seem to be under the misconception that imported fruits and food are somehow superior in nutritional value then fresh local seasonal fruit or processed food. But that doesn’t mean that just when people are aware of nutritional value, they make better choices. They cannot or will not if the food prices are out of their affordability range.

So in this fight to eradicate Food Insecurity, the next item in line is to make sure that food is affordable, nutritious and safe. So we encourage households to increase their income by training them and sometimes even subsidizing the cost of starting Income Generating Activities (IGAs). Even after all these, when production is intensified, additional income is generated etc, there also exist the reality that even when the small holder farmer has somehow managed to increase production, due to lack of access to market (whether it is financial or lack of physical infrastructure), the only person who really benefits from the increase in output is the middlemen who go around these remote regions buying products at cheap prices to sell in higher price in other markets.

The law of economics states that increasing demand, increases supply. Increasing prices, decreases demand. Increased availability lowers prices but may or may not have affect on demand, depending on whether or not demand is price elastic. In the farm production – a sudden increase in production in an area will temporarily depress the price of the produce unless there are enough means and ways to preserve process and dissipate the product in the market. This is where the NGO with the track record for developing markets is going to step in. They will work to connect these small holding farmers and other IGA stakeholders to formal markets by establishing channels which will ensure fair trade.

That is the soul of collaboration. It’s like an orchestra – each instrument on its own can only make so much impact, but together, they create magic. The beauty of their creation can take your breath away; can transport you to a different place. And right now I am really living the dream of enabling communities to become food secure through these collaborations.

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Posted on January 14, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. And through collaboration, we are reminded that we are all One! xoM

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    • Yup! and in my upcoming trip next week, I know I will see women whose lives will make me grateful for mine. In my dark days its the one thing that I keep repeating to myself – I am too blessed to be in this dark hole 🙂 hopefully, I will get time enough either during the trip or afterwards to post on how my trip went and what I learnt from it.

      Thanks for the kind comments Margarita.

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  2. This is also such important work! Collaboration is the only way forward, and while consensus is difficult, it’s important to get as close as possible so everyone feels a part of the the dialogue, solutions, actions. Thanks for your work, Arman!

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  3. Hi…I worked for an NGO for my last 13 years that I worked before going on long-term disability…and I know how important each aspect of helping those in need is…relief, development and medical helping them to eventually be able to support themselves…Have a good trip….Diane

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    • WOW !!! that is incredible. I am still learning how this works and most times, I am still looking at things from a private sector / entrepreneur kind of lens. It makes for an interesting mix in our team. I would love to learn from you, if you are up for some mentoring? 🙂 Thanks Diane for your kind comments.

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