As the Nuru International Agriculture Program launches operations in a new year, I find myself yet again pausing to contemplate plans for this year and to reflect on last year.

Nuru International’s Agriculture Program is growing in area of operations and increasing the value proposition to farmers. Nuru Kenya’s Agriculture Program will serve thousands of new and returning farmers with training, extension and loans for a newly redesigned crop production package. Nuru Ethiopia’s Agriculture Program is launching its inaugural year of implementation with farmers. Nuru International Agriculture Program staff has the exciting mandate of building up local leadership and program models so they work increasingly independent over time.

Nuru Kenya’s Agriculture Program had a difficult 2013 long rains season. Drought, erratic weather and crop disease posed huge hurdles for producing high yields. Local and international staff faced this challenge as an opportunity to incorporate even more resilience into the Agriculture Program. Resultantly, the 2014 long rains loan package prominently features crop diversification and small-scale agroforestry. This introduces drought and disease resistance, better nutritional outcomes, increased environmental sustainability and more financial stability to farmers and to Nuru Kenya’s Agriculture Program. The loan package keeps costs consistently low, while offering an even stronger value proposition to farmers living in extreme poverty in Kuria West, Kenya. As the Agriculture Program conducts trainings and distributes inputs in preparation for planting time around March, key opportunities and challenges of 2014 become apparent. These include scaling and creating impact with a new crop package with farmers, sustaining operations with high loan repayment and developing local leadership where the Nuru Kenya Agriculture Program team implements the program on their own.

Nuru Ethiopia’s Agriculture Program was designed and planned throughout the course of 2013 in an intensively facilitated process of co-creation. Nuru International and Nuru Ethiopia teams worked together to create the Nuru Ethiopia Agriculture Program by working through Nuru’s mandate, identifying local needs related to hunger and low crop yields, and creating a robust set of solutions that address problems in the community in sustainable, scalable and impactful ways. In 2014, the Nuru Ethiopia Agriculture Program begins its intervention to end hunger in the community through intensive technical trainings, crop production loans and crop commercialization administered through a farmer-organized agricultural cooperative. Nuru offers novel opportunities for the local community to work together towards sustainable, scalable and impactful solutions to end hunger and extreme poverty.

Nuru International Agriculture Program staff will be working towards developing local leadership and innovating past challenges within the Agriculture Programs. In Kenya, the focus is for international staff to leave the Nuru Kenya Agriculture Program fully under local ownership by mid-year 2014 without an on-the-ground dedicated Nuru International Agriculture counter-part. In Ethiopia, the mandate is to build up local leadership in the inaugural year of the Agriculture Program intervention there, while at the same time helping further flesh out the program plan and design. Together, the Agriculture Programs in Kenya and Ethiopia are for the first time in 2014 bringing Nuru’s agriculture interventions to more than one country in sustainable, scalable and impactful ways.