Our solution will focus around a resource centre which will be the link between the small-scale vegetable farmers and the farming communities which comprise successful farmers and Extension/Agricultural Officers. The resource centre will also act as a store for pre-planting information and farmers’ directory. The successful farmers will be organized into a cooperative which will allow them to access subsidized farm inputs from the resource center in return for pre-planting information for the small scale farmers. The farmers within the cooperative will have access to international and local farm visits which they can attend or host. The objectives are of the idea is to;
- To link 200,000 small scale farmers to farming communities by 2021
- To transfer pre-planting knowledge, through farm demos, exposure visits and training from successful farmers/agricultural extension officers to small scale farmers
- To organize successful farmers into a cooperative for easy access to farm inputs, storage and markets.
- To cultivate a spirit of information sharing within farming communities and small scale farmers
We define small-scale farmers as those who practice subsistence farming, own below 5 acres and produce vegetables in small quantities. These farmers often lack diversity in their agricultural activities, have low financing and are considered part of the informal economy. They are most vulnerable in the supply chain, have limited records such as title deeds or records for their produce and might not own or control the farm. Our focus will be on providing pre-planting information to small-scale vegetable farmers who fit majority of the characteristics mentioned above. The information will be generated from successful farmers who have characteristics contrary to those of the small-scale farmers mentioned above.
The Vegetable Resource Centre will also work towards reducing the employment rates by encouraging the youth to use ancestral farmland to earn an income. According to a 2014 assessment of Kenya's employment rates by USAID, the workforce in Kenya is significantly high in the informal sector in contrast, only 1.3 million people are engaged in modern formal employment. This figure is against more than 12 million people in the informal sector including 6.5 million smallholder farmers, 2.7 million people in self-employment, and 3.1 million people in informal wage employment. It is evident therefore that a majority of the Kenyan workforce are small-scale farmers. Thus, this project is deliberate in supporting such farmers and brings the ‘decency’ in the informal sector.
According to Cuts-International’s, KAPMAD Project, small scale farmers provide over 70% of agricultural produce and 50% of market produce, which meets about 75% of Kenya’s national demand. The produce is often in the context of subsistence farming. Poverty has been evidenced to overlap with small-scale farming hence promoting the notion that small-scale farming is unrewarding, inefficient, outdated and uncompetitive in both local and international markets. Research done by Serah Odini regarding small-scale farmers in Vihiga County found that there is inadequate information infrastructure and few information centres within the county which is the same case around the entire country. She also found that the lack of information on water harvesting, seed and soil quality, farm inputs and other conservation methods leads to losses for the small-scale farmers. Our solution to this problem is linking small-scale farmers with successful farmers since the latter already have the knowledge of how small-scale farmers can overcome challenges in their agricultural activities such as access to financing, application of new technologies and application of more efficient farming methods.
We as Vegetable Resource Center aim to design a solution that will help farming communities to share pre-planting knowledge through practical experience with small-scale farmers. Our solutions will focus on providing the following services; local and international tours, linking the small-holder farmer with an Agricultural/Extension Officer, linking small-scale farmers with successful farmers’ information source and providing access to farm inputs.
We believe that joining hands with social entrepreneurs, NGOs, private sector and government will provide a clear solution that will help small-scale farmers to upscale their households and increase market index.