Products: Maize, Sunflower, Ground Nute, Pulses and Vegetable
Program Phase: Scale
Program Partners: Base Resources, Kwale County Government (Department of Agriculture), Kwale Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Crop Nutrition Lab Services (Cropnuts), agro-chemical and seed companies, agro-processors and agriculture credit suppliers
In Kwale, many smallholder farmers are often trapped in a vicious cycle of low-intensity farming, low yields, limited market access, and insufficient profit. As a result, most experience high levels of poverty and food insecurity (Figure 1).
The systemic cause of this vicious cycle needs to be addressed with a multi-pronged strategy. By breaking the cycle, it is possible to put smallholder farmers on a consistent path to prosperity.
Figure 1: Poverty Cycle for farmers in Kwale
Economic, environmental and social resilience and empowerment are at the core of people’s ability to own their future, especially for women, youth and disadvantaged groups. To develop and execute agricultural programs that build resilience and empower smallholder farmers, Business for Development is implementing a number of strategies, including:
- Working with PAVI Cooperative to improve their business management skills, marketing, financial, administrative, and organisational performance. Through strengthening skills and systems, the cooperative can continue to manage the program and drive sustainable outcomes for the members of the cooperative in the long term.
- Introducing crops (maize, sunflower, ground nut, pulse and vegetable) which are not only in high demand but have multiple applications. As a result, diversifying risk if a particular market fails.
- Working with farmers in collective marketing under PAVI cooperative, linking to reliable local and regional markets with a view to ensuring the allocation of equitable economic returns for all of those within the chain.
- Sourcing high-yielding varieties improving crop production, e.g., for sunflowers Business for Development sourced HYSUN 33 which has the capacity to yield over 1,000kg/acre and has a high oil content (45-48%) which is perfect for oil production and stockfeed.
- Recruiting smallholder farmers who have a consistent track record in growing crops and organising for them to participate in crop trials. Agreeing with these farmers they will cover 30-50% input costs upfront, and upon harvesting the remainder will be paid. Through organising upfront payment, these farmers have a personal investment in the undertaking, and therefore a vested interest in its success.
- Demonstrating to other farmers who are more risk-averse, how they too can benefit from participating in the program and becoming members of PAVI.
- Facilitating one-on-one training on agronomy for crops and using proven group extension approaches such as field days, farm field schools and group demonstrations. As a result, improving the agronomic skills of farmers.
- Updating smallholder farmers with new and modern techniques such as climate smart approaches.
- Providing new sources of grain for stockfeed for the PAVI Cooperative poultry program through the production of maize.
- Strengthening knowledge exchange through SourceTrace technology. As a result, Business for Development and PAVI agronomists can track and monitor field activities and provide faster extension services to farmers.
- Working with Kinondo Community Bank to provide short-term loans to farmers who need extra labour support at harvesting. Thus, maximising yields and return at a critical point in the agriculture value chain.
This multi-pronged approach to address economic and food insecurity has achieved good results to date, including:
- Improved the management of the PAVI cooperative, so they can support their member base, and engage more farmers to join the cooperative. Resulting in a viable cooperative that can achieve sustainable development outcomes for the Kwale community.
- Vegetable producers enjoyed a 25% lift in yields. Harvesting will be executed in October 2022 for maize, sunflower and ground nut, and visits to the trial farms already show promising results.
- Pulses are to be planted in October. Growing pulse crops in rotation with other crops enables the soil to support larger, more diverse populations of soil organisms that help maintain and increase soil fertility. This short-season crop will not only improve soil fertility but provide another means to improve farmer livelihoods and address food insecurity.
- Over 60% of participating vegetable producers have attained food security, and socio-economic status and health status have improved by 15%. Early indicators from the other crops (maize, sunflower, ground nut, and pulse) to be harvested in October 2022, look to achieve similar results.
- Increased farmer and PAVI cooperative networking with other actors including government, seed providers, agrochemical providers and researchers. Developing the partnership ecosystem necessary to support farmers in the long term.
- PAVI Cooperative will have access to new sources of grain for its poultry stockfeed, reducing the cost of production, therefore enabling them to supply stockfeed at a reduced price, and providing PAVI cooperative a source of income to support its activities.
- Systems in place with the introduction of SourceTrace to monitor yield and provide agronomic extension services at scale as the program grows and supports more farmers.
- Due to the successful results in the vegetable trial, five youth groups, each with a minimum of 12 members, and three high schools are now participating in the vegetable program. As a result, knowledge on growing vegetables is transferred to the young people, who in turn encourage their parents and other students to consider vegetable production. In the long term, it is expected that students will consider undertaking agricultural related courses and potentially become professionals after graduating.