The Say-do-gap

Author: Eddy Chibu, Country Manager, Kenya

I recently came across Melton Leadership perspective on the Say-Do-Gap theory, which evaluates the gap between what you SAY to your group of stakeholders and what you DO. The greater that gap, the less the trust, the less the trust, the longer it takes to achieve anything.

In our situation in Kenya, the greater the Say-Do-Gap, the harder it is to gain the trust of the farmers we work with, and the longer it takes for them to adapt better agronomic practices we are advocating to achieve higher yields.

As the Country Manager of Kenya, my focus has been in managing our talented team of agronomists and developing stronger relations with key stakeholders and partners. To be perfectly honest, I do not have a strong background in farming. However, as a keen advocate of participatory approaches when working with our farmers, it was clear that I needed to “walk the talk”, get my hands dirty, learn about farming, and apply Business for Development’s approach to farming.

In 2019, I set myself the exciting and challenging task to test this magical Business for Development’s farming approach and, most importantly, demonstrate to the local community around my neighbourhood if I can do it successfully, then they can replicate me at their farms and achieve similar results.

So in the spirit of walking the talk, I purchased four-acres next to my parent’s plot of land. With the help of our agronomists, the land was sub-divided into eight equal halves where five varieties of maize and three varieties of cotton hybrid seeds were planted. Meticulously our agronomic process was followed. As a result, today the fields are a sea of green and it looks like we will have a bumper harvest in 2020.

Now when I talk with farmers participating in the Kwale Agribusiness Program, I know what they are going through. I have toiled with the land, sowed the seeds, and seen the impact weather can have on achieving good yields. Business for Development’s approach to community engagement is with deep respect, empathy, and curiosity. Through combining our engagement management approach with the “Say what we Do” mantra, trust is established with farmers and we provide a foundation for smallholders to envision a life beyond poverty.

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