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Small Grant Application

General Context

Western Kasai, Democratic Republic of Congo has been devastated by decades of war and civil strife. Following this long period of instability and civil unrest, the food situation in Western Kasai is dramatic, approximating famine conditions. Even “middle class” people obtain only about 60% of the calories they need. The most vulnerable groups are children, the elderly, and people who have migrated recently. Over 70% of population are absolute poor caught in a vicious circle of lack of food production causing lack of access to seeds and lack of energy and strength for productive work.

This is the situation that Butoke is trying to address. Butoke’s programs aim to address that situation in a sustainable way, by helping people to address their own food needs through agriculture and improved nutrition. Butoke began working in the area of Food Security and Nutrition in 2004. We pursued this work in the fall of 2005 with 185 associations and 700 individuals of small farmers, working approximately 200 ha of land under peanuts and beans. We also experimented in the fall of 2005 with our first two ha seed farm for beans. We have since then partnered with Africa Inland Mission to submit a proposal to CIDA’s Innovation Fund for further support beginning in March 2006. That proposal provides considerable detail on the context and on Butoke’s intervention strategy. We have every expectation that this proposal will be funded.

Needs Assessment

The aim of this small grant application is to help Butoke and the population it supports to take advantage of the secondary crop season beginning in January 2006, to develop seed farms gain a head start for the main season of Sept.-Dec. 2006.

Butoke’s analysis suggests that the most pressing priority in Western Kasai is for simple investments in food and nutrition. Alternative sources of employment are rare, and other investments – for example in health and education – will not yield sustainable results if people do not have enough to eat. Yet, the potential exists for improving this situation, thanks to the availability of land and labour and the return of relatively peaceful conditions to the region.

Butoke is trying to help people to get re-established in agriculture or to enter such activities for the first time, and to promote the introduction of more nutritious crops and nutritional practices. This is where Butoke has decided to concentrate the bulk of its efforts and resources.

Butoke’s approach is to combine activities that meet people’s immediate needs for food and investments that will lead to sustainable livelihoods over the longer term. With the economy of Western Kasai in shambles, and with very little foreign assistance coming into the province, there are numerous obstacles to overcome. Butoke is constantly exploring innovative ways of overcoming these obstacles, with the limited resources available to it.

Among the problems or needs that we are trying to address are the following:

·         People are hungry. We need to find a formula that helps people in the short term while building for the future.

·         Agricultural yield are abysmally low, yet agriculture is the only source of livelihood available to most people and in particular to the poorest parts of the population.

·         Seeds are difficult to find and of uneven quality. Current yields for seeds on the market are low, with high rates of spoilage and low germination rates.

·         Butoke itself is learning-by-doing, as it explores new ways of doing things, and makes use of participatory approaches intended to harness the energy of the population, while helping to rebuild social capital.

Faced with this situation, Butoke is not only encouraging people to grow food. It is also moving up the chain to produce its own seeds, and to help people in various ways, to increase agricultural yields.

For the season covered by this proposal (January – June 2006), we propose to concentrate our efforts on the production of bean seeds and of improved cassava cuttings for the asexual multiplication of cassava. These are the crops that grow best in the off-season.

Butoke has already had some success with beans. Beans are very nutritious; they grow well in poor soils and can be used for mixed cropping; and they are one of the few crops to grow in the off season. Beans are one of the major crops planned for the larger project scheduled to begin in March 2006.

Although cassava is a staple food in the region, improved varieties are virtually unavailable, because in the savannah area they are believed to be fertilizer dependent. The fertilizer, in turn, is not only expensive but unavailable on the market in the province of Western Kasai. Butoke has found it hard to support cassava farming because of these handicaps but is also convinced they should be overcome to improve caloric availability.

General Development Goal

The project’s purpose is to make a lasting contribution to the improvement of food security in a number of food deficient villages of Western Kasai, and, in particular, to improve the nutritional status of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in those villages.

Specific Objectives

1.      Help indigent people to feed themselves by engaging in food for work

2.      Acquire invaluable experience in managing seed farms, to prepare for the main season, when we will be managing 50 such small farms

3.      Create a stock of selected seeds of beans by successive cultivations, and accelerating that process by getting an extra season in between the main crop seasons of 2005 and 2006

4.      Help indigents to acquire seeds that will at least cover some of their needs

5.      Create a provision of high quality improved cassava cuttings enough to popularise cassava with farmers having clay soil in forested areas and in the savannah area if fertilizer can be purchased for the main season of 2006 or thereafter

6.      Reinvest the product of the harvest as inputs into the larger project beginning in June 2006, allowing Butoke to expand its activities and to free up resources for other purposes, such as the purchase of fertilizer for improved cassava cultivation.


The focus of this proposal is a relatively new activity for Butoke: the establishment of seed farms for beans and asexual multiplication of cassava. The farmers will receive food for work as well as a share of the harvest. The cost of food for work will come to $200 per ha.

Last season, Butoke grew two ha of bean seeds. If financial support can be found, our intention is to increase this to 23 ha of bean seed fields this season, plus 2 ha of mixed cropping of beans and cassava.

We propose two multiplication farms of 1ha each for the cassava in mixed cropping. We have identified 2 associations with access to fertile clay soil in forested area that are interested in doing the multiplication of cassava. We hope to avoid the dependency on fertilizer also by combining cassava and beans in mixed cropping.


These seed farms will fill an important gap for good quality seeds that cannot readily be purchased on the market, with some improvement in quality each season. Rapid expansion of Butoke’s seed farming activities is thus expected to yield good dividends.

We expect that 70-80% of the harvest will be good quality seeds. The 20-30% not useable as seeds will be divided as follows: 10% for the farmers as food, 10-20% to be used for malnourished children, prisoners and old people. The farmers will also receive 15% of the harvest as seeds, which will permit them to create a bean field of at least one ha in the main season with excellent quality seeds.

We expect to harvest 5,040 kg of beans. Of this, 1,008 kg will be used as food, and 756 kg (15%) will be distributed as seeds for farmers who helped to work the seed farms. This leaves 3,276 kg to be used as seeds for 30ha bean seed farms in the 2006 main season, leading to a financial saving for Butoke of US$ 5,250.

Each ha of cassava is expected to yield 30,000 to 40,0000 edible roots, and about 270,000 to 360,0000 cuttings, enough to plant 27 to 36 ha in the main season. Farmers working the multiplication farm will receive 20% of the roots (more than their present harvest for a same surface) and 15% of cuttings. Moreover they will have food for work support.

Between the two multiplication farms we will be prepared for 54 ha to 72 ha of cassava in the main season 2006. This will be done without fertilizer in the border area between Lulua and Kasai District and in the Kasai district itself.. An attempt will be made to expand also into the savannah on 10 ha, with fertilizer. The cassava multiplication will enable us to recruit between 70 and 100 new associations in the main season of 2006 in different ecologies.

Community Participation

The seed farms are a special challenge for Butoke, due to the limited resources available, and the desirability of active participation by the associations, as a way of mobilizing labour and ensuring the most widespread adoption possible of seed production techniques. Therefore, the intention is to have seed farms that are dispersed on two ha plots across the region where the associations operate (as opposed to larger, more geographically concentrated farms). There will be 11 or 12 such bean farms under this project, plus two mixed cropping farms.

Each of these farms will be managed by one of the associations, in collaboration with an agronomist. The agronomist responsible for each zone will accompany the process, monitoring such things as the first selection of seeds, the monitoring of germination times, growth rates, resistance to diseases, resistance to climate, and the size of plants and seeds at harvest time. Farmers are expected to participate fully, so that they can acquire the skills to sustain the efforts at improvement of the seed stocks, develop an appreciation and understanding of scientific methods of cultivation, and feel that they themselves are contributing to improve the resource base for everyone.

This program is a direct response to felt urgent needs of the communities. The association members and their dependents currently represent about 26,000 people. They will be the direct beneficiaries for the produce of the bean farms.

Proposed Budget

Butoke is seeking support from both AIM Canada and ADRA for this project. AIM Canada has already accepted to support six ha of bean farms plus the two ha of mixed bean cassava farms. The budget for this part of the project is as follows. There is no purchase cost of bean seeds for this part of the project, since the seeds will come from two ha of been seed fields currently being cropped.




Unit Cost (US$)

Total ($UD)









Cassava cuttings (imported from Eastern Kasai)




Food for work




Salaries, agronomists

8 months







Overhead (4%)








Support from ADRA is being solicited for the second part of the project, which would allow us to expand the number of hectares of bean seeds from 6 ha to 23 ha.




Unit Cost (US$)

Total ($UD)









Bean seeds for 17 ha. At 86 kg./ha




Food for work




Salaries, agronomists

6 months







Overhead (4%)








In this budget, we are requesting ADRA to kindly accept an overhead rate of only 4%, corresponding to what we have negotiated with AIM.

Having benefited in the past from a $5,000 contribution of funds from ADRA’s Emergency Fund, we are hoping that this option may still be open to us. Should ADRA be in a position to provide such funding, Réal Lavergne has accepted to fund the difference, and to channel his funds through ADRA ($1,775 CDN, the equivalent of $US 1,526).

The total cost of both parts comes to $US 15,892 or 18,479 CAD.