500,000 small farmers improving farming techniques
The coffee shrubs on Joseph Mwigei Michuk’s small farm are getting some competition from passion fruit. By combining two sorts of passion fruit, you can utilize the benefits of both. One is resistant to a certain type of noxious insect; the other is sweeter and therefore more popular.
The passion fruit from Michuk’s farm will be sold in stores in Europe. Exporting to world markets is something new in the village of Gatei, where Michuk runs his farm. Previously farmers have only sold to the local market.
The Michuk family, Joseph, his wife and their eight children, really needs the income from these exports.
Farming must be more productive
Improvements within agriculture are central to Kenya’s economy and provide for about 80 per cent of the population in rural areas. Farming also accounts for about 60 per cent of export revenues, primarily from tea, coffee, fresh fruit, vegetables and cut flowers.
To increase growth and reduce poverty, farming must be modernized and become more productive. This is one of the Kenyan government’s priorities, and Sida has therefore helped to form the National Agriculture and Livestock Extension Programme (NALEP).
NALEP is now nationwide and reaches about 500,000 small farmers. The programme is being carried out by Kenya’s ministry of agriculture and other related departments.
Advisors visit farms
An advisor from NALEP visits the farms within their district. The farmer then describes the most pressing problems, and together they make a realistic action plan.
The process is based on the idea that the farmers themselves are experts in their own situation, but the advisor can suggest alternative solutions, such as new crops, cultivation methods, education or simple investments in techniques that suit the local conditions.
Torsten Andersson, programme officer at Sida, says: “The idea is that the advisor can also help improve their awareness of the market and find new markets for what the farmers produce. It’s not an easy task, but an important one to raise incomes.”