Context

Aflatoxin, a highly toxic compound produced by Aspergillus fungi, naturally contaminates crops especially maize, groundnut, and sorghum. It’s a major food safety concern for consumers worldwide. People are exposed to the toxins when they consume contaminated grains or foods prepared with such grains or through consumption of milk or meat of livestock that have been fed with contaminated feeds. The toxins suppress the immune system, retard growth, cause liver cancer, and may cause death in both humans and domestic animals. Aflatoxin is a barrier to trade, limits access to premium grain markets, leading to loss of income for the farmer & traders, disrupting food & industrial raw material supply systems.

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In response to the challenges posed by aflatoxins, USDA-ARS developed an innovative biocontrol solution containing non-toxin producing Aspergillus flavus strains. This breakthrough innovation reduces aflatoxin contamination during crop growth and post-harvest storage, and throughout the value chain.

In Africa, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in partnership with USDA-ARS and national research organizations, has so far successfully adapted this technology for use in Nigeria, Senegal, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi, using native non-toxin producing A. flavus strains commonly found in these countries. This has led to the development of biocontrol products branded as Aflasafe. Field testing of Aflasafe across countries has produced extremely positive results: consistently reducing aflatoxin contamination of maize and groundnut by more than 80% and even as high as 100%. Adopting and applying Aflasafe in farmer fields to address aflatoxin contamination in Africa could dramatically improve the health and livelihoods of millions of families while reducing food losses due to contamination. The challenge is to get Aflasafe into the hands of farmers across sub-Saharan Africa.

IITA and partners through the Aflasafe Technology Transfer and Commercialization (ATTC) initiative have laid the foundation for scaling the production and distribution of Aflasafe to users across Africa. The approach involves developing country-specific commercialization strategies, competitively selecting investment partners, and supporting those investors to scale out the production, distribution, and use of Aflasafe in the country. IITA in partnership with the National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) and the Zambian Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) is now looking to extend the commercialization approach to the Zambian market. This is particularly important for Zambia given that Aflasafe was registered for commercial use in 2018, however, it is still not readily available in the county. In addition, Zambia is a leading producer and exporter of maize and groundnuts in Africa. With the growing concern over the levels of aflatoxin in the regionally traded maize and groundnuts, evidenced by the recent maize trade bans in Kenya and Burundi, it is prudent that Zambia encourages farmers to control aflatoxin right at the farm level.

IITA is therefore seeking applications from competent and experienced organizations to develop the Aflasafe commercialization strategy for Zambia.

Scope of Work

Building upon the work already done by IITA in other countries, the applicant will determine targets for hectares to be treated with Aflasafe at the country level, analyze the most suitable business models and codifying the incentives required by investors, potential users and other stakeholders for the successful scale-out of Aflasafe in Zambia.

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Working collaboratively with IITA’s Aflasafe team, the applicant will leverage the standardized country analysis model and preliminary supply-demand hypotheses for Zambia, emphasizing risks and opportunities. This will be achieved by developing a clear country strategy that addresses, at a minimum, and by no means exhaustive, the following key questions:

    • Who are the main market players in the maize, groundnut, and sorghum value chains?
    • What is the demand for aflatoxin-safe grains in Zambia?
    • How might this demand change over time, and what drives that?
    • How are the production system for the focus crops organized in Zambia
        What is the potential market for Aflasafe in Zambia?

      • What is the addressable market for Aflasafe in Zambia, over the next 5 years?
      • What incentive mechanisms can be put in place to increase the demand for Aflasafe?
      • Should the manufacturing and distribution be public or private sector-led?
      • What is the financial viability of Aflasafe production and/or distribution in Zambia?
      • Is it better to manufacture Aflasafe in Zambia or import and distribute it – considering cost, ease of entry and reliability of supply?
      • What are the pros and cons of a regional, single national, or multiple national manufacturing plant strategy?
      • What are the most ideal locations for setting up the Aflasafe manufacturing unit in Zambia?
      • How many Aflasafe manufacturing factories will make business sense to setup in Zambia, and what should be their respective production capacity and locations?
      • For potential investors already in the inputs supply chain, do they tend to have centralized or dispersed manufacturing facilities?
      • With reference to existing input distribution channels, how should Aflasafe distribution be setup?
      • What type of actors should be considered for each business opportunity along the Aflasafe distribution channels?
      • What types of investor partners for Aflasafe manufacturing and distribution should we consider working within Zambia? What are the top five qualities we should look out for?
      • What are the implications for the Technology Transfer and Licensing Agreement (TTLA) on the proposed business models and investor appetite?
      • What laws, regulations, and/or enforcement mechanisms could hinder the uptake of Aflasafe?

Guided by the above questions and deliverables outlined below, the applicant working closely with the Aflasafe team will develop actionable strategies for the commercialization of Aflasafe in Zambia.

Deliverables

The following are the deliverables of this assignment:

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Deliverable No. 1:Kick-off deck (to be submitted with 7 days after award of contract)
The successful applicant shall prepare a kick-off deck that will include the following:

  1. Plan of work to be undertaken for this assignment complete with timelines.
  2. List of key stakeholders including government, private sector, etc., to be engaged.
  3. High-level synthesis of country-specific material and additional material from IITA.

Deliverable No. 2: Market sizing draft report
The successful applicant shall prepare a market sizing draft report that will include the following:

  1. Synthesis of current production trend for maize, sorghum, and groundnuts.
  2. Analysis of the significance and magnitude of the aflatoxin challenge in Zambia including the aflatoxin testing arena.
  3. Synthesis of the core market segments for aflatoxin-safe grains, their size, actors and potential points of entry for Aflasafe.
  4. Exploration of current levels of adoption of alternatives to Aflasafe in Zambia and neighboring countries.
  5. Examination of the barriers to uptake, with estimation of latent demand for Aflasafe or similar products.

Deliverable No. 3: Commercialization opportunity draft slides
The successful applicant shall prepare a draft set of slides introducing elements of the commercialization opportunity that will include the following:

  1. Exploration of different options for the commercial delivery of Aflasafe in Zambia.
  2. Review of policy and regulatory issues and the business environment.
  3. Detailed profiling of potential investors or partners present in Zambia.
  4. Estimation of operating cost for Aflasafe manufacturing and distribution and the likely impact on commercialization.
  5. Workings on the likely product pricing under low, average and high demand scenarios.
  6. Assessment of the non-market-based incentives e.g. health demographics, that can be leveraged to promote and support Aflasafe utilization.
  7. Assessment of the profitability for farmers, including calculation of and assumptions for price premium for aflatoxin-safe groundnut, maize, and sorghum.
  8. Profiling potential partnership opportunities for different commercialization options, and particularly the opportunity to leverage government subsidies.

Note: IITA has significant information and models relating to Aflasafe manufacturing plant and product costing to be shared with the consultants.

Deliverable No. 4: Final report and market sizing model
The successful applicant shall do the following:

    1. Organize a strategy validation forum with selected stakeholders in Zambia.
    2. Prepare a comprehensive Aflasafe Commercialization Strategy for Zambia report, incorporating comments from the stakeholders’ forum and feedback from IITA and partners.

The successful applicant will perform the entire work needed to complete this deliverable with the period June to Nov 2021.

Application and submission information

The following documents are required for this application:

4.1 Application

Proposals must be prepared in English, formatted on A4 size paper, single-spaced, and font size 11. The technical proposal should contain the following sections.

a. Cover Letter
A cover letter on the organization’s letterhead expressing the interest and stating the name, designation, and address of the key contact person (organization’s legally authorized negotiator), the organization’s full address, location, telephone, and email address.

b. Corporate Capabilities, Experience and Past Performance

Applicants shall include a brief narrative summarizing the resources (human, financial, equipment, IT hardware and software, etc.) at their disposal and describe their capability to perform the work. Each applicant must submit its complete name, address, contact information and precise location of main office. The applicant must also present a profile of the company, with appropriate reference to any parent company and subsidiaries.

The narrative should demonstrate an understanding of the requirements associated with implementation of the SOW, illustrate the applicant’s technical experience implementing similar projects, meeting tight deadlines, experience coordinating and working with local stakeholders. Applicants must confirm availability of qualified and competent human resources to perform the assignment including quality control checks, anticipated risks, and mitigation strategies. In addition, each applicant should include a description of how it plans to manage the work included in this ToR in addition to its other ongoing and anticipated projects.

c.Technical Approach and Detailed Work plan

The successful applicant should provide detailed description of how they plan to implement activities subject to this ToR, e.g., description of proposed methodology as well as an action plan, with the timeframe and schedule for realization of each planned activity and sub-activity, with the division of responsibilities for proposed team members.

d.Required Certifications and audited accounts

Applicants shall include the registration certificate of the organization or company to undertake this assignment alongside the last year audited financial accounts.

e.Presentation of key proposed staff

Including their qualification, experience, and areas of expertise.

f.Budget

The applicant must submit a detailed budget and budget summary in an Excel sheet along with narrative and explanatory notes.

4.2 Submission

Proposals should be submitted via the following email addresses: Sent to J.W.Kamau@cgiar.org Copied to J.Akello@cgiar.org By 14th May 2021

  • Validity of proposal
    Proposals should have a 30-day validity period from the proposal submission date. Within the proposal’s validity term, IITA reserves the right to: i) accept the Offeror’s proposal in full or in part, ii) conduct negotiations and/or request clarifications prior to award and iii) re-open or cancel the whole procurement procedure for this consultancy opportunity.
  • Conflict of Interest

Offerors and its proposed personnel shall disclose any factors that could limit the organization’s ability to independently perform the services such as relationship with counterpart employees, past employment, or any other material reason.

Eligibility Information

This opportunity is open to pre-selected Offerors that are deemed capable of implementing the scope of work, that have a solid record of integrity and business ethics, and that meet the eligibility requirements stated in this Section. All Offerors must certify that the organization or firm, and the firms’ principals, are not debarred, suspended, or proposed for debarment. IITA will not award a subcontract to any firm that is debarred, suspended, or proposed for debarment, or who proposes to do business with firms or firms’ principals who are debarred, suspended, or proposed for debarment, in the performance of the requirement of this activity.

5.1 General requirements

  • Past experience developing business strategies with a commercial orientation.
  • Good understanding of the focus grain value chains in Zambia and good working relationship with relevant institutions.
    Have the right mix of expertise and adequate personnel to undertake the assignment.
  • Has the necessary financial capacity, i.e. positive account balance in the previous year.

5.2 Specific requirements

The applicant must have minimum three contracts executed in the last three years related to commercialization of agriculture, input supply/distribution or production in preferably Zambia. The applicant must prove this past experience by submitting at least three relevant references of previous work. List of past clients with contact information for verification must be provided so as to enable due diligence. Contact information should include, at a minimum: name of contact person and organization, address, email, and phone number.

Evaluation Criteria and Basis for Award

IITA will make award(s) to an eligible, responsive (one that complies with all the terms and conditions in the ToR without material deviation) and responsible Offeror(s) that presents the best value (as determined by the technical/cost trade-off analysis) to IITA. Offerors may not modify non-responsive offers after the proposal deadline in order to make them responsive. However, IITA may request an Offeror to clarify its offer as long as no material deviation exists.

IITA will evaluate proposals in accordance to the following criteria:

  • Qualifications, experiences, and expertise of key personnel to be involved in this assignment.
  • Past experience in conceptualizing and implementing similar works.
  • Ability to work in a multi-institutional and complex environment.
  • Practical experience in business modeling and development.
  • Institutional financial strength and assignment costing structure.
  • Clarity of documentation and clear plans to achieve the desired results.

Questions & clarifications

Applicants are advised to sent questions or clarifications regarding this assignment not later than 7th May 2021 via email to J.W.Kamau@cgiar.org and D.Joseph@cgiar.org