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Diversification through food forests and Agro-forestry as pathways to a food secure future for Kasambara village in Nakuru County.

Diversified agro-ecological systems through forest gardening and agroforestry with farmers participation & guarantee of improved livelihoods

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

African Forest Limited

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Water Resource Users (WRUA), Local administration (i.e Chiefs, political leaders, other leaders) Community members, Local hotels and tourist destinations, Sustainable Agrifood Systems Strategies (SASS) program, Carolien Zijda a dairy specialist, an agroforestry & policy specialist Corrie Mauldin and Kamweti wa Mutu a monitoring and evaluation specialist

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Mbaruk Ward, Kasambara village in Gilgil, a sub-county in Nakuru County

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Initial land owners of Mbaruk and Kasambara village were former Delamare farm workers who got the land through cooperative shares. The land was later subdivided among siblings and eventually sale to commercial development/settlers from other areas.

Soysambu conservancy, 22,000 hectares, is an ecologically outstanding site. The increasing destruction of natural habitat due to the escalation in human population in the area made it obvious that this was the only remaining island of biodiversity. Located on Lake Elementeita, a World Heritage Site, a Ramsar Convention Wetlands Site and a Bird Life International -Important Bird and Biodiversity Area;  Soysambu Conservancy is bordered by Lake Nakuru National Park on the west, volcanoes Ol Doinyo Eburru to the south and Menengai craters to the north.  Consisting of over 48,000 acres of diverse ecological significance, Soysambu Conservancy is home to more than 450 bird species (28% of the world's population of Lesser Flamingo) and 10,000 mammals of over 50 species.

African Forest is a holistic agro-forestry social enterprise, founded in 2006, and based on the edge of Soysambu Conservancy. African Forest has a 60 ha plot on the edge of the ranch, where they have an indigenous organic plant nursery and seed centre and trial plantations of Planet Positive Forestry.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The main food crops produced in Nakuru County include; maize (250,065 tons), Irish potato (270,986 tons), wheat (58,000 tons), and beans (22,614 tons) valued at 6.5 billion Kenyan shilling (KES),KES 4.7 billion, KES 1.7 billion and KES 1.2 billion respectively (MoALF, 2016). The main livestock products are milk (182 million liters), beef (120,600kg), mutton (86,400 kg) and eggs (33,242 trays) (MoALF, 2016). The main source of food for the population in Nakuru County is produced on their own farms. Maize takes the largest portion of cropland under cultivation (42.8% average), while other crops share the remaining land that is less than 2%.39% of households in Nakuru County has contractual agreements with buyers and maize was the most sold crop (34,4%).

Between 61-80% of Nakuru County’s population is engaged in the maize Value chain (MoALF, 2016). Further, the maize produced in Nakuru County, as well as in the rest of Kenya, is sold to local households, traders, millers, large private companies (e.g. animal feed manufacturers) and public sector institutions. The Government buys maize directly during the harvest season to keep stocks for periods of food shortages or to influence prices, particularly for electoral reasons. One of the main reasons for the popularity of maize is the-long governmental subsidies to the maize sector.

Changes in land use cover are a clear indication that land use change is taking place in Mbaruk ward. This is taking shape with the emergence of non-agricultural forms of land management. The upper catchment of Lake Nakuru and Lake Elementeita which has historically consisted of indigenous forest and open woodland has experienced significant changes in land use over the past 50 years. The forest has been converted into rain-fed smallholdings. Trees are cut for charcoal purposes. This has had a direct impact on the water resources.

Rapid runoff has led to higher rates of siltation, while water quality concerns have been further compounded by poor farming methods. Land management has severe repercussions for the soil: chemical fertilizers and pesticides use result in acidic soils and they are also labour-intensive to apply. Also, lack of terracing on hillsides and overgrazing by cattle and goats lead has led to catchment degradation, contributing in turn to poor water and soil quality.

The landscape is experiencing rapid land subdivision and fragmentation and linked to this: degradation. This has resulted in diminishing yield output and impacting on agricultural productivity in smallholder farms.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Currently, subsistence farms are becoming smaller and fewer due to families sub-dividing their land between children.  Smaller farm plots mean less space for diverse crops/ produce such as fruits and vegetables. The lack of these foods means vitamin/ mineral deficiencies which have profound impact on the growth of children and pregnant women, for example. The inability for farmers to grow and sell enough produce to sustain their families pushes them to extract resources from nearby protected forests. Such resources include fuel wood and charcoal. This deforestation has led to highly destructive erosion throughout the area, causing landslides which destroy life and property as well as consistently low crop production from critical soil nutrients being washed away.

According to the SASS report on Sustainable food systems, the performance of the Nakuru County food system is poor in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainability. In the short term, jobs and incomes are being created in the county due to economic growth, especially in the horticulture (vegetables and flowers), tourism and real estate sectors; however; there are significant medium-term economic risks. These arise from the inability of this system to allow the vast majority of smallholders to adequately invest to improve production and productivity, thus remaining financially vulnerable, and from the deterioration of natural resources linked to such growth, which can lead to the future loss of jobs, incomes, and investments.

In terms of social sustainability, the exclusion of a significant part of the population from economic growth, coupled with little diversity and quality in food production and consumption, constitute a serious threat to the health, social cohesion, well-being and traditional values of residents. The environmental status is also poor, and worsening with climate change: water and land degradation, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and so forth are likely to reach a scale that exceeds the absorption capacity of the ecosystem.

Farmers in this area are rather scattered and unorganized, hence poorly supported by weak alliances among themselves and ultimately driven by the agendas of the rest of the actors in the value chain, especially input providers and middlemen. This also explains their reluctance to diversify their produce and grow more variety of foods, which would in principle allow them to connect more effectively to processors and consumers in urban areas.

Diverging agendas between few existing processors in Nakuru County and the many potential producers, together with current disconnect between supply and demand of processed food, also add to the ‘system biases'. Middlemen don’t find it worth investing in changing the monopoly; but they have an unexploited potential to connect smallholders to consumers, thus making the access of diversified foods to markets more stable and profitable for the benefit of the whole food system. 

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

With hands-on training over 3 years farmers will be given the necessary knowledge and tools to establish highly productive agroforestry systems and forest gardens at the individual, farmer group and community level.

A PGS (Participatory guarantee system) will be developed for quality assurance in marketing of produce. Farmer group producers will be certified based on active participation of individual farmers. This system will be built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange.

Therefore, the Forest Garden approach implemented with 3,000 households in Mbaruk ward through PGS, will help address the following challenges:

Environment: The great diversity of vegetation within the Forest Garden will help address issues of pest and disease and changes in climate. 

Diet: The variety of vegetables and fruit harvested year-round will greatly improve household consumption of necessary vitamins and minerals, most benefiting 0-5 children and pregnant women. .

Economics: Because of the diverse crop perma gardening and tree product harvests occurring year-round farmers will be able to sell some products each month throughout the year for consistent household income, and take advantage of high-demand seasons to fetch higher market prices. 

Culture: It allows smallholder farmers to sustain their families with a high-quality of life.

Technology: Once farmers receive this information and experience from demonstration of the various Forest Garden techniques, they are able to implement the same without much oversight. Farmers will benefit from receiving regular information on weather and markets through their phones. 

Policy:  It is clear that the practices and interactions between, relevant stakeholders, networks and institutions consciously or unconsciously regulate/influence, the way the local food system operates and determines its outcomes.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

African Forest and all stakeholders are working together to make diversified agro-ecological systems through forest gardening and agroforestry systems and these systems are competitive and best suited for the current conditions and with a good return to farmers.

Nakuru County food systems are built on diversified value chains that allow biodiversity and are profitable to its people in the current and future generations. Food is produced from both small scale and large scale producers linked through role in the food value chain.

Farmer members are at the center of the PGS. They also participate in all the PGS activities through the committees or during the annual general meetings. The groups also have organic product certification for all its products.

Peer reviews are done quarterly by African Forest, ministry of agriculture member representatives, willing members and invited buyers. Members are involved in the development of procedures, regulations, and PGS documentation.

The main costs of running the PGS include: trainings, documentation, monitoring, and transport, development of group branding and marketing. The group raises its money through returns from the planet positive model and also from revenue generated through marketing of products. The target market will be low/middle class markets in public markets, organic markets and fairs.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

African Forest envisions a sustainable food system that continuously provides affordable, healthy, nutritious food for all and does so in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.

Our vision is to create a diversified food system in Nakuru County, contributing to linking all actors in the food system, from producers to consumers, to policy makers and enabling in particular smallholders and small service providers to better supply urban and regional demand.

Smallholder farmers, rural entrepreneurs and agricultural small- and medium-sized enterprises are actively involved in the food systems value chains, using sustainable farming and trading practices.

Sustainability concepts in practice including but not limited to; better water harvesting, carbon recycling, intercropping with legumes, composting, biological pest control, and agroforestry to promote on-farm biodiversity, protect pollinators and ensure correct nutrient cycling; as well as other relevant types of training for public officials, community groups, farmers, small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website


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