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Sesame: the new white gold for smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso and Mali?

Sesame has over the last decade emerged as an important agricultural commodity in Burkina Faso, and Mali. Whereas cotton has in the past been labelled as the “white gold”, agricultural producers are now diversifying their cash income by also growing sesame. This paper investigates how the sesame sector can be supported to make sesame the “new white gold” for farmers in Burkina Faso and Mali. The insights are gained from a CFC supported project implemented by Helvetas, IFDC and KIT from 2011 till 2014.



The Joseph Initiative and Agricultural Transformation

In Masindi, one of the leading maize producing districts in Uganda, change is in the winds. The Joseph Initiative (JI), a grain management and trading company, has in just three years established itself as a major actor in the area and is transforming the maize value chain.

The Common Fund (with resources from its Dutch Trust Fund) is supporting JI in response to its request under the Fund’s Third Call for Proposals.



CFC and INBAR: fifteen years of cooperation on bamboo and rattan development

For fifteen years, the Common Fund for Commodities has been instrumental in furthering the development of bamboo and rattan in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Through its support to the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) in some eleven projects totaling US$5.58m, new knowledge and tools have been created in how bamboo and rattan can be harnessed to improved livelihoods in rural areas and protect the environment.




Impact at scale through investment funds

In 2012 the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) started to participate in impact investment related to agricultural commodities, recognizing the impact they potentially carry on communities and value chains. Although still representing only a modest share of its activities compared to its regular project financing mechanisms (grants and loans) of commodity projects, the CFC’s participation in impact investment funds is growing. Currently CFC is contributing to five cutting-edge investment funds.



Utilizing small diameter logs from bio-composite products in Indonesia

The research project aimed to generate and analyse data on the use of small diameter logs, sourced from both natural forests and plantations, for their utilization in value-added bio-composite timber products. Bio-composite is defined as materials that have been glued or bonded together. The research was focused on the present and future markets of bio-composite products, the physical and mechanical properties of small diameter logs, and the fundamental properties of bio-composite products such as plywood, laminated veneer lumber (LVL), glued laminated timber or lumber (Glulam), particleboard and medium density fiberboard (MDF). The idea is to support industry with practical research to help it access the quantity and quality of timber it requires, and by extension, potentially alleviating the burden on primary natural forest.



Impact assessment and the quest for the Holy Grail

Logical models that establish indicators to measure project outputs have their place. But over time we have evolved and loosened up these models, and have really started to look a lot deeper than output level, towards outcome, and ultimately impact (the ‘impact chain’). ‘Achieving impact’ has a ring of the Holy Grail about it - everyone wants to achieve impact, even though we are not often entirely sure what it will look like until we find it.