Project boosts farming best practices, triples earnings

Kenyan farmers have increased production in selected crops by upto 50 percent and increased farm earnings to 30 percent thanks to professional networking which has facilitate information sharing and exchange.

According toInternational Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) , the networking has been the catalyst that has seen farmers change farming practices, embrace quality farm inputs and ultimately boost production and yields.
Through, participating in the new Toward Sustainable Clusters in Agribusiness through Learning in Entrepreneurship project – popularly known as 2SCALE some 100,000 farmers have improved their farm household with a 30 percent increase in income, which is the organization’s target for the nine participating countries, while another 100,000 farmers have achieved a 50percent increase in productivity. At least 300 small and medium agricultural enterprises have increased sales by 50 percent.

The company attributed the transformation of the farming enterprises in Kenya to “improved production technologies, value chain coordination through innovative contractual farming models, access to finance and strengthening capacities of Cluster actors.”

According to Humphrey from the organization, Kenya, where 75 percent of the workforce is in agriculture, has a market for dealers in quality farm inputs especially agrochemicals because there is “inadequate supply of clean, high quality and affordable seeds.”
Kenya also lacks “investment in improved inputs and production, high cost of inputs leading to under-application,” which could be an opportunity for potential investors in farm input manufacturing and supply.
The good agricultural practices were possible because of collaboration between the farmers and “Dutch knowledge centers, other agribusiness projects, private enterprises, agribusiness clusters and value chains” supported by IFDC, Base of the Pyramid Innovation Centre (BoP Inc) and International Centre for development-oriented Research in Agriculture (ICRA).

The 2SCALE project, according to IFDC, aims to develop “ a portfolio of 500 robust and viable agribusiness clusters and value chains in selected countries, supplying food to regional, national and local markets and the least fortunate, also known as base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) consumers.” IFDC says “the project will leverage the impact of its activities through collaboration with the embassies of the Netherlands and Dutch national agro-food companies.”

Despite the achievements of the 2SCALE in Kenya, the IFDC regional advisor said the country’s market is still grappling with “disorganized marketing systems controlled by cartels of brokers, lack of market information, and high transaction costs.”

Separately, producers in the country have previously benefited from initiatives that have not only seen them improve production through use of farm inputs correctly but also ensuring they subscribe to certified good agricultural practices that enables them to access both regional and international markets such as the European Union.

One of the initiatives running in the country is the KenyaGAP Standard for Good Agricultural Practice, which is part of a series of case studies developed through the ISEAL Alliance and TSPN “Governmental Use of Voluntary Standards” project. Kenya GAP, launched in 2007 and the first standard in Africa, is globally recognized Global GAP standard for horticulture.

During the FCI Trade Summit, GLOBALG.A.P’s Christi Venter said the voluntary global benchmark is a pre-farm-gate standard, which helps address the process of production until the product leaves the farm.
She said the standards help producers prevent risk, carry out risk analysis and focuses on integrated pest management and integrated crop management hence closely linking the producer and the agrochemical supplier.

Venter, who gave a presentation on “Tools to Promote and Establish Good Agricultural Practices in East Africa,” said with GLOBALG.A.P consumers are re-assured about the produce’s production processes.
She said Kenya is the leading country in the region in the number of certified producers at 1,846 compared to Tanzania’s 9 and Uganda’s 5.

The stringent conditions set by the EU market, especially for horticultural products, could easily be met by East Africa producers through embracing of GLOBALG.A.P. Venter said the global standard is customized for safe and sustainable agriculture “in response to growing concerns regarding specific aspects of the agricultural production process and supply chain.”

She said to support East Africa, producers meet specific national and international market requirements for farm produce. GLOBALG.A.P. has developed add-on modules that enhance its certification. “These made-to-measure add-ons upgrade the producers’ status and offer buyers specific assurances tailored to their interests and preferences,” she said, adding that such modules include GLOBALG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice (GRASP) and GLOBALG.A.P. Animal Welfare.

For East Africa, IFDC says, “private sector is the driver of agricultural development. If farmers sell their produce at a profit they will be willing and able to invest in fertilizers and other good agricultural practices.”