The Challenge: About 80% of African farmers work on small plots which perform at only a fraction of their potential. Yet African agriculture holds vast potential to feed the continent’s growing population and fuel its economy – if given the right support.
Our Approach: Agriculture for Impact, under the leadership of Professor Sir Gordon Conway, is an independent advocacy initiative based at Imperial College London that aims to enable better European government support for productive, sustainable, equitable and resilient agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing in particular on the needs of smallholder farmers.
Outcomes: The Marchmont team has worked with Agriculture for Impact to develop and execute a communications strategy including planning and messaging workshops; research and writing; grant-writing support; and a complete redesign of their visual identity, including a new website and online database. We have also helped them secure hundreds of pieces of top-tier media coverage for their report launches, which have informed policymaking in the UN, European Commission, France and the UK, as well as the African Union over the years.
The Challenge: For policymakers, supporting agricultural development can be daunting task– both in terms of what agriculture is expected to achieve for development and also the conditions under which it takes place.
Our Approach: The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) tasked our team to help shape the content of a comprehensive guide for policymakers that they had written in partnership with the Overseas Development Institute. The report aimed to capture the policy areas where consensus exists as well as where debates and uncertainties still remain lies in which interventions work.
Outcomes: We worked with the report authors to craft new messages for the report; restructured and edited it; and then translated and designed it (view the full report here). We also produced an infographic (English and French versions) to help with the report’s later outreach both online and in workshops throughout Africa.
The Challenge: Weather-based index insurance schemes have been piloted across the world, to gauge whether protecting poor farmers against climate risk is possible. No consensus on the factors of success had yet been drawn so the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) wanted to explore this issue through a short report, which was launched at a high-level event in London.
Our Approach: We helped CCAFS to launch the report as well as producing an cartoon-style infographic that explained the basics of weather-based index insurance and key findings of the report. This was launched on social media during the London event, supported by proactive media outreach.
Outcomes: Top-tier media hits included Bloomberg and Reuters, who both covered the report as the first publication to prove weather-based index insurance can work for smallholders. SciDev, Business Fights Poverty and Voice of America also covered the news.
The Challenge: The Montpellier Panel seeks to influence European donors on effective ways to support poverty reduction in Africa through investment in sustainable agriculture. Its bi-annual reports provide evidence and analysis of key topics such as soil management, climate change and innovation. To reach beyond the scientific community, and demonstrate the value of investing in agriculture for wider development strategies.
Our Approach: We recommended partnering with key stakeholder the International Fund for Agricultural Development to host a launch event at the United Nations in Rome on World Soil Day. The report was released to journalists under embargo, and the expert authors were pitched as key commentators on the topic of Africa’s declining soil health, which we positioned an essential issue to be addressed during the International Year of Soils 2015.
Outcomes: The report was covered by 30 media outlets, including four separate interviews with the BBC and an opinion article by Sir Gordon Conway on The Guardian’s Global Development site. Global outlets such as Reuters and Financial Times: This is Africa interviewed panel members, as well as national newspapers in Africa, such as South Africa’s Mail & Guardian.