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Meet our new CEO, Nicolas Mounard

Nicolas Mounard joined Farm Africa at the end of February 2016. He has extensive experience of managing commercial and non-for-profit organisations and of designing, developing and managing long term agricultural value chain programmes in developing countries. Here, Nico tells us a little about why he wanted to work at Farm Africa, and what he's looking forward to in his first few months. 

1. Why did you want to work for Farm Africa?

"There's such a strong story of people behind products. When I started to work on tea, coffee and honey, I started to understand the huge history that is behind these products and the number of people who are involved and it fascinated me - so I went deeper and deeper and met a lot of fascinating people and that was the beginning of my journey.

I've met a lot of inspiring smallholders in my life. A particularly inspiring group of smallholders was a coffee cooperative called Kopakama in Rwanda, in Kibuye, just on the Kivu lake. It's a cooperative of 300-350 farmers, and a lot of them are women. A group of 120-150 women decided to buy a piece of land and take care of that piece of land jointly, just to prove the business case that they could do better than men, and they achieved an amazing result both in terms of quality and yield. It was a beautiful story."

2. What is the biggest challenge we face in overcoming poverty in rural Africa?

"For me the key way to reduce poverty is reducing that distance between the market and farmers. At the moment farmers are so far away from the market that they have to sell their product for a very low price, not covering the cost of production, which just feeds the cycle of poverty.

I think we need to make sure firstly that farmers can make a good living and secondly that they can invest. Farming there and farming here is exactly the same - you need to be able to invest in your farm to make sure that it grows. And the prices farmers get at the moment just don't allow that. So the question of a fair price, a good price, is key for them."

3. Why do you think farming in Africa is relevant for the British public?

4. What are you most excited about in the months ahead?

"First of all, I'm going to see our teams in-country next week, so I'm travelling to Nairobi and then Addis, and I'm really looking forward to meeting the people working for us and the farmers we're working with.

From a programmes point of view, I think Farm Africa's three main strengths are in agriculture, environment and market engagement, and I look forward most to strengthening that last part - engaging with the market and making sure that farmers can get closer to the places where they can sell their products. That's what I've dedicated my life to for the last twelve years and I want to bring that to Farm Africa."

5. Do you have a message for Farm Africa's supporters?

You can keep up with Nico's projects and the latest developments at Farm Africa by signing up to our newsletter or following us on Facebook - we'd love to hear from you.