As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.
Edward Kateyia – IFAP/Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers
Empowering smallholder farmers in markets (ESFIM) is a programme covering 11 developing countries set up by IFAP, ECART, IFAD, Agricord, CTA and various local researchers in Kenya. The project’s overall objective is to generate demand-driven action research support to the policy activities undertaken by farmers’ organisations. By creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment as well as economic organisations and institutions, the initiative works to empower farmers to generate remunerative cash income from markets.
Promoting collaborative research, the study gave research support to nine national farmers’ organisations to help them produce a set of propositions that would help them voice their research requirements more effectively and help to initiate partnerships amongst research groups for executing their various activities.
A second phase of activities involved supporting farmers’ organisations with information to strengthen their research capabilities and access to knowledge. Through this, farmers’ organisations have an improved and increased capacity to collect, organise and exchange experiences, knowledge and information within an international network of researchers.
Following a successful pilot phase for the new insurance scheme developed by UAP in conjunction with the Syngenta Foundation, Kenyan farmers will be able to purchase insurance against the effects of drought and excessive rain.
The program is the first of its kind. Here are more details:
Under the novel system, farmers register their purchases by sending an SMS to a phone number provided by UAP. The weather stations then monitor the weather and inform the insurance company of impending crop failure and subsequent compensation. Each farmer is then informed via SMS about the payouts. Costs are kept down through the use of automated weather stations which avoid the need for expensive field visits to farms to ascertain risk and loss. This makes the insurance feasible for both the farmer and the insurance company.
The first pay-out to farmers affected by drought happened in Nanyuki last week. UAP Head of Marketing and Distribution Joseph Kamiri said that the company had developed the product in response to a great need identified while developing agriculture insurance products for the Kenyan market in conjunction with the Syngenta Foundation.
The early success of the programme has given it the go-ahead to be released across the country in 2010, said Rose Goslinga, insurance coordinator of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture in Kenya:
Traditionally, smallholder farmers have been totally dependent on the vagaries of weather. In times of drought they lost their crops and their investment in seed and fertilizer. To make matters worse, farmers then had to pay for a second lot of seed to enable them to replant. But because they had not obtained a crop, they had little money, if any, to repurchase the seed.
In recent months, Kenya has been hit by severe drought, so this new programme will likely go a long ways toward helping impacted farmers get back on their feet.
In the 1980’s, as more Kenyan farmers moved to using crop protection products as part of their growing practices, a clear need emerged for safe use training to ensure these farmers used their products safely and responsibly. In 1991, CropLife International launched its first Responsible Use Pilot Projects.
In Kenya, an initial phase focused on “training trainers” in order to build a sustainable local base of knowledge and enable large numbers to be trained in safe use quickly. The project evolved over time and expanded, initiating the use of innovative methodologies to reach multiple stakeholders. A radio broadcast, “Using Chemicals Safely”, reached thousands of listeners and became one of the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation’s most popular shows. Textbooks, drama, and song played an important role in rural schools as the importance of educating youngsters was established. This was complemented by further training of farmers and retailers, helping many reach the standards set to meet Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) standards, an important certification for exporters.
The success of the Kenya pilot project has led to the training of more ‘master trainers’ who are now involved in training activities in several countries in the Africa and Middle East region. Partnerships have been formed in several countries, including with IFDC, the United States Agency for International Development, GTZ, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization and Belgian Technical Cooperation to carry out these projects.
With its high-quality milk, Nairobi-based Brookside Dairy has a 40 per cent share of the Kenyan dairy market. Seven per cent of its 80,000 suppliers are commercial farmers and the remainder are small-scale producers.
The widespread lack of refrigeration facilities means that Brookside employs an army of delivery personnel, including more than 1,000 “bicycle boys” in the Nairobi area alone, to collect milk.
Brookside’s sales depots now stretch from the East coast to the shores of Lake Victoria in the West. Its training field days, each attended by up to 6,000 local farmers, help spread best practices in livestock management and provide networking opportunities for smallholders, many of whom are geographically isolated.
The business links rural and urban economies and offers a sustainable route out of poverty for many. Additional benefits to local communities are health education programmes and funding for school, church and road building projects.
The West Africa AgriTrade Network provides information on the latest available prices from selected agricultural markets, buy and sell, news, contacts and other information required for commercial decision-making in all 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West African States.
Farmers can receive all this information via text message on their mobile phones.
For example, the Trade in Hand project provides daily price information for fruit and vegetable exports in Burkina Faso and Mali, while Manobi, a Senegalese telecom company, provides agricultural and fish price updates to subscribers.
Safaricom, the Kenyan mobile phone operator, also provides a text message service for farmers to access updates on commodities in markets direct from the Kenya agricultural commodity exchange. Traders can offer their goods for sale or place bids, as well as post short messages or questions on agricultural matters. Rural-based market information points help to extend the service to those farmers with limited access to mobile phones or computers.