Introduction and Background
Rangelands account for 79% of Afghanistan’s agricultural land and are mostly used as community property. Rangelands are crucial for livestock production, which is of particular importance for the livelihoods and food security of poor and landless households. However, in the absence of effective governing systems, a growing population puts increased pressure on rangeland resources, resulting in their degradation through unsustainable use of vegetation and soil erosion, putting the rangelands at risk of desertification.
The Rangeland Management (RAMA) project is a 12-year programme of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) with the first phase (2018-22) implemented in 33 rangelands in Daykundi province. RAMA is co-funded by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC). Afghanaid and The Liaison Office (TLO) are supporting MAIL in implementing RAMA Phase 1. RAMA supports the implementation of the National NRM Strategy by promoting the creation and implementation of community-based rangeland management plans.
RAMA’s theory of change is that by re-establishing the rangeland vegetation and strengthening local rangeland management systems and institutions, the natural resource base will be improved and sustained. This will reduce land degradation and protect biodiversity, while also contributing to climate change adaptation. With enhanced rangeland resources, poor and landless households will increase the productivity of their livestock, make use of new income sources (e.g. medicinal herbs) and get a bigger share of the value added of rangeland products. As a result of the above, inhabitants of the rangelands will improve their food security and livelihoods.
The RAMA baseline surveys have highlighted the dependence of the rural households on rangeland produce (fruits, fuel, medicinal plants etc.) and rangeland related products (mainly livestock related). While some of these products are consumed by the producers, others are sold at local, provincial and international markets.
RAMA seeks to diversify and increase the income of the rangeland inhabitants. To facilitate this, it is essential that they can get higher prices for their rangelands produce and/or locally add value to the products’ value chain. RAMA therefore wants to gain a robust understanding of the feasibility of expanding production and marketing of different rangeland related products. Based on this study the consultant will prioritize 10 rangeland related products and draft a gender sensitive value chain development plan for each of these products.
This document is the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the services of an international consultant to design, lead and report on the Feasibility Study and Value Chain Development (FS&VCD) of potential/competitive rangeland products. The VCD plans must be based on a detailed and comprehensive value chain analysis and should result in actionable recommendations for phase 2 of RAMA (2022-2026) to contribute to livelihood improvement of rangeland inhabitants. These VCD plans must include an indicative budget for the proposed support and identify accessible sources for necessary tools, techniques and skill training (if needed).
2. Objectives and methodology
2.1 The overall objective
The overall objective of this assignment is to produce a draft plan of interventions for value chain and market system development (VC&MSD) of the rangeland products that have the highest potential to contribute to enhancing the livelihoods of rangeland inhabitants. The selection of potential rangeland products and intervention plan should therefore be informed by comprehensive value chain and market analysis. The assessment will identify products gaps and limitations and future line of consumption (domestic use or exportable products), and potential opportunity.
This product specific Value Chain and Market (VC&M) development plan will provide evidence-based information for the RAMA livelihoods support component of phase 2 of the programme by carrying out a feasibility study of the following 20 potential rangeland or rangeland-related products:
· Dry and fresh fruits: almonds, pistachio, walnut, apple and apricot;
· Livestock: milk, dried curd (quroot), butter, yoghurt and meat;
· Medicinal plants: Cumin, Ferula asafoetida, Locorice, Ziziphora capitata and Mentha;
· Foraging crops: Rainfed wheat, Alfalfa, Barley, Cow peas and Vetches.
These rangeland products can be divided in two categories (i) product with potential exports within and outside Afghanistan (e.g. almond, medicinal plants, meat, dried dairy products, etc.) and (ii) locally/regionally consumable rangeland product, which can be used by rangeland communities and Daykundi resident and livestock holders (e.g. forage crops, wheat, Alfalfa, fresh fruits, fresh dairy products etc).
The FS&VCD study should shed light on the status and viability of existing and potential local, district and provincial markets and determine which of the products hold the promise of increased employment opportunities, better product price and higher income, product expansion/diversification, increased market viability, locally applicable value addition opportunities, quality improvement, and input availability for home or village-based producers, particularly women.
The suggested methodology for this assignment is:
(1) Review existing, relevant FS&VCDs of the above mentioned 20 rangeland products and relevant RAMA project documents.
(2) Draft an appropriate methodology for primary data collection by RAMA field staff and develop data collection tools (e.g., market survey, interviews with market actors, key informant interviews) that will be used to conduct the FS&VCD. The methodology should specifically consult, and identify gaps/ limitations and opportunities for women and youth (male and female).
(3) Conduct face-to-face training of trainers, i.e., of 2-3 senior RAMA staff and the data enumerators hired by TLO, who in turn will train the RAMA field staff and other, in data collection.
(4) Plan and implement the FS&VCD focusing on data collection that will enable evidence-based:
identification of major local, district and provincial and, if applicable, distant markets
assessment of size of markets, volume of sales, market integration/segmentation
characterisation of local market structure and enabling environment (e.g. security issues or policies affecting market access etc.)
behaviour of key market actors (consumers, sellers, traders, middle-men, employers) including the strategies traders employ to lower prices e.g. reducing logistic costs
identify and analysis of the market demand for the rangeland products (incl. large and small ruminants and red meat from cattle, goats, sheep from Daikundi at national level), differentiated by market segment including demands, prices, and trends in relation to supply
prevailing procurement mechanisms, market requirements (standards, conditions for delivery) and prices, wage rates and gender segregated employment conditions
assessment of the gender-sensitive constraints and opportunities along the value chains
current sources of tools, technology, and training
other areas as identified in the methodology and relevant to the overall objective.
(5) Draft a FS&VCD report, which includes an executive summary and actionable, gender segregated recommendations for VC&MSD for potential prioritized rangeland products by RAMA-II. For each district in which RAMA operates, identify the rangeland commodities in which it has a comparative advantage and the highest potential for developing the value chain, indicating market system development and product specific value chain development to optimally contribute to increased profitability, contributing to livelihood improvement of rangeland inhabitants, particularly women.
3. Process & Deliverables
3.1 Step 1: Plan of Action
Based on this ToR the consultant will draw up a Plan of Action (PoA) (4-5 pages). The PoA will be sent to the TLO ENRM Coordinator by the end of the first week of the assignment. The PoA will include a summary of the existing, publicly available MA&VCA reports for the 20 rangeland products identified above, the proposed approach of the candidate, methodology and a broad time frame. It will also explain how the RAMA field staff can upload the data collected and entered on mobile devices (Kobo or other apps) on a daily basis and how the consultant will arrange and ensure quality control.
3.2 Step 2: Fieldwork
The consultant will supervise the senior RAMA staff in Daykundi who will manage and supervise the RAMA field staff involved and hired enumerators in data collection. The RAMA staff will collect data at rangeland and district level while the enumerators will collect data at provincial and national level. During the field work the consultant will daily check the quality of the data collected and uploaded to the cloud and, if necessary, give instant instructions to improve the quality of the data collected.
3.3 Step 3: Draft report
The consultant will share a draft report and present a PowerPoint Presentation covering the key findings, conclusions and recommendations to the RAMA staff, and other relevant stakeholders followed by a questions and answer session. The consultant will include the feedback from this session in the draft report which he/she will send to TLO for review and feedback.
The consultant will have the following academic qualifications: Advanced university degree in marketing, economics, socio-economic development, development planning, financial management or other related fields.
The consultant will have the following professional qualifications: Minimum of 5 years of relevant professional job experience (market assessments, local economic development, value chain development, strategic planning, etc.).
The consultant will have the following competencies:
• Strong analytical skills
• Ability to work under pressure in challenging environments
• Excellent communication skills
• Determination and focus on goals and results
• Sound management and effective facilitation skills
The following experience will be a plus:
• Experience in rangeland management
• Previous assignments in Afghanistan
• Dari language skills
7. Skill and knowledge base requirements:
The consultant should have extensive experience in and knowledge of the following:
• Excellent knowledge of rangeland (or at least agricultural) products market assessment and value chain and market systems development in Central Asia in general and Afghanistan in particular
• Consumer categorization and analysis
• Ability to train, guide and supervise data collectors and their supervisors
• Ability to translate data collected into a comprehensive market and value chain analysis
• Ability to come up with actionable recommendation ready
• Strong analytical, research and presentation skills
• Ability to write clearly and concisely in English
3.4 Step 4: Final report
The consultant will incorporate the feedback from step 3 in the final FS&VCD report. This will be provided to TLO in both MS Word and PDF format along with digital files of all underlying original field data.
4. Indicative timeline and budget
The final report is due by 30 June 2021, and the field work is scheduled for May 2021 (due to wintery weather conditions fieldwork can be difficult before the middle of April).
The consultant is expected to have about 35 days or input to conduct the assignment. Security and Covid permitting around two weeks of that would ideally be spent in Afghanistan covering the week of training of trainers and the start of data collection (the training also can be organized virtually through Zoom Call) and the last days of data collection and the first days of data analysis and reporting on the initial findings, conclusions and recommendations.
The indicative budget for this assignment is US $ 30,000 which includes all expenses of the consultant and his/her professional fee related to the assignment. Claimable expenses under this budget include two return flight from the consultant’s home office to Kabul, accommodation in Kabul, visa for Afghanistan, Covid certificates and other expenses directly related to the assignment.
TLO will cover all expenses of the RAMA field staff and separately hired data enumerators.
5. Ownership and Beneficiaries of the study
Any and all documents produced under this assignment shall be the sole property of TLO and may be used for any purpose whatsoever without the need to consult with the author.
The key beneficiaries of the study are the local communities within the project area, as the study will support them in understanding the local market dynamics and also support those interested in value chain and market systems development of their rangeland and rangeland-related products.
In addition, the assessment report will be aimed at a range of stakeholders such as MAIL, donors, public policy makers and other stakeholders including other NGOs working in Afghanistan. The findings of this study will also be used to raise the awareness level of the policy makers at the strategic, tactical and operational levels and propose alternative mechanisms for rangeland inhabitants for better livelihood options.
Finally, the field and management staff of Afghanaid and TLO will benefit from the skill transfer by the consultant to the staff through formal and informal (on the job) training in doing market assessments and value chain analyses.
 For details on this longlist of rangeland products identified by key informants earlier, see Annex A. Based on his/her experience the consultant is free to propose that one or more of these products be dropped to allow other products to be added. In all cases the rationale for the change should be clearly explained.
 As per GoIRA rules TLO will have to deduct up to 7% of the consultant’s professional fee as “tax on income at source”.
How to apply
Interested applicants should send the following to Md. Tawab Stanikzai, Environment and Natural Resources Coordinator at TLO (firstname.lastname@example.org) and email@example.com by midnight local time in Kabul on 13 February 2021:
• Up to date CV.
• A 3-4 page covering letter explaining (i) how his/her experience addresses the requirements of the TOR, (ii) whether he/she agrees with the longlist of 20 rangeland products or proposes one or more to be dropped and one or more others to be added (and why), (iii) the overall methodology (in 2-3 pages) including which tools/platform to use for digital data collection and (iv) an indicative budget.
• A sample report written by themselves of an assignment similar to this one.