Agro Enterprise Center (AEC), the agricultural wing of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and industry (FNCCI) established in September 1991 under the Cooperative Agreement between FNCCI and USAID/Nepal. The vision of AEC is "In the national context is to be a strong, vibrant and sustainable private sector led agro-enterprise sector capable of contributing high and broad based economic growth". The Mission of the AEC is "to expand and strengthen market oriented private sector driven agro enterprises in order to increase the value and volume of high-value products old domestically and internationally".
Agro Enterprise Center provides range of services related to business development, market development, agriculture research and Agriculture Market Information services. It works to develop capacity of farmer entrepreneurs, farmers groups/ farmer organizations, and traders contributing to the development of strong linkage along various nodes in a value chain. Through its projects, AEC contributes to the policy feedback mechanism of the government of Nepal and has participated in all major forums in the development of the Agriculture Development Strategy (2015-2035) of Nepal. AEC has reached out to all districts in Nepal through various programs. AEC has only 1 office in Kathmandu and project based offices are stationed at respective district based Chambers of Commerce and Industries in project districts during the duration of the project. The total number of employees of AEC is 95 currently
AEC has huge networks of agro- entrepreneurs, experts and farmers and traders. These agro- entrepreneurs are organized into 32 commodity associations.
AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION
AEC/FNCCI provides specialized expertise in a wide range of disciplines including agriculture, value chain development, Value Chain Analysis, Grant processing, business plan development and evaluation, institutional development and capacity building on business analysis, business development, business evaluation, business incubation, mentoring, policy studies, feasibility studies, project preparation, monitoring, evaluation for the business related activities. Following are the major specialization of the organization.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND MARKET DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
To a majority of private entrepreneurs, securing business counseling, information on taxes, registration and renewals, identifying new markets and building linkages has become a costly exercise at the individual level. Now that investments have started pouring in the agriculture sector, AEC shifted its priorities to provide various business counseling services to these entrepreneurs through the local chapters of FNCCI. Capacity development of human resources at the municipality and district level chambers of commerce and industry forms the core part of this strategy. Services on business counseling, registration costs, required licensing costs, and legal counseling are costly affairs for an individual entrepreneurs. These services if provided through local chambers will drastically reduce costs. The basic idea is to reduce the costs of information, registration and renewals to private entrepreneurs.
POLICY ADVOCACY AND STUDIES
AEC has a long history of engagement with government of Nepal through various policy advocacy exercises. Hence, AEC still is concentrating in identifying policy bottlenecks which hinder trade. The overlapping jurisdiction of local level government, provincial level government and federal level government in agriculture sector has created confusion with regard to securing licenses and permits, applicable local taxes especially in big projects (FDI). These policy bottlenecks threaten to hinder smooth transition of Nepalese agriculture sector to higher stages. Hence, AEC has broadened its arena of policy advocacy activities.
STRENGTHENING COMMODITY ASSOCIATIONS/ LOCAL CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
One of the core strength of AEC/FNCCI is the presence of commodity associations. Some of these commodity associations in cardamom, tea, coffee, ginger, MAPs, floriculture etc have build up their institutional strength so that they are able to conduct all programs by themselves which is an achievement for AEC/FNCCI. Information from these commodity associations play vital role in devising policy advocacy tools.
AGRI BUSINESS INCUBATION SERVICES
AEC has initiated an Agri-business Incubation service to offerbusiness development services to clients’ majority of whom are young people. The incubation centre will support clients in blending their business idea in a reality by engaging them in incubation and accelerator programs. Suitable arrangements will be made with local chambers of commerce and industry to run the incubation services through a mobile camp on incubation services. The experts will be mobilized from Kathmandu who would periodically conduct incubation programs in all provinces/districts.
PILOTING OF PPP MODEL IN AGRICULTURE SECTOR
AEC has piloted a new Public Private Partnership model in agriculture sector under the project One District One Product (ODOP) and One Village One Product (OVOP) which was implemented in 68 districts in Nepal. Within this model, private sector investments in agriculture sector are supported by financial and institutional supports from the government. Most of the commodities (coffee, ginger, cardamom, tea, herbs) which are currently exported from Nepal were identified by these projects. AEC facilitated flow of private sector investment in higher value chain activities for these agriculture commodities. Subsequent support from government led to the proliferation of traders and producers in these commodities.
ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE AND STAFFING
Board of the FNCCI is the apex body of the organization, constitutes a Executive committee for AEC, which is the major governing arrangement for providing policy guideline, operation and direction to the Organization to achieve its goal. The organization structure adopted is based on Virtual Organization concept, which is run by small core team and has capacity and linkage to conduct several big projects at once by mobilizing the resource person it has in its pool. Regarding day to day activities, AEC has the provision of "Chief Executive Officer" who manage the daily management of the organization. Under CEO, different directors are working for the design, implement and service delivery of the assignment.
NETWORK OF THE ORGANIZATION
AEC/FNCCI is umbrella organization of Nepalese private sector and has strong network of Business Community and Commodity Associations. AEC/FNCCI is the national level federation of District Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Municipality Chambers of Commerce and Industry. AEC has strong network of business and Industrial associations, producers and traders representing 105 districts and Municipal level chambers on all seven provinces, 102 commodity associations and 910 leading public and private sector undertakings in Nepal.