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Engaging youth in creating a market pool of naturally fortified cereal and horticultural products using a sustainable ecosystems approach.

Photo of Violet Mugalavai
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Lead Applicant Organization Name


Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

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

Elgeyo Marakwet County Government bodies (KIRDI) Kenya Elgeyo Marakwet Youth Community Based Groups, Kenya Kenya Bureau of Standards Rural Livelihood Improvement, Kenya -NGO Smallholder farmers, processors, consumers, retailers, smart digitals youth entrepreneurs, distributors, waste recoverers, students, scientists, food writers, media

Website of Legally Registered Entity

University of Eldoret Kenya

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?

Elgeyo Marakwet County in Kenya covers a total area of 3,029.9 km^2 which constitutes 0.04 percent of the country’s total area.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Our team has been working within Elgeyo Marakwet County (EMC) on agro-intensive agricultural practices, post-harvest and agro-processing technologies particularly with the smallholder farmers community who face many challenges. In particular, postharvest losses stand at 40% due to poor market linkages and lead to low rural household food, nutrition and livelihood security. Inadequate knowledge, skills and technologies are experienced by a majority of the farmers in EMC. The team is working on sustainable community-level practices and training the smallholder farmer, youth and women in agribusiness in diversely rich farm produce brought about by various organizations (ICRISAT, CIP, WVI, County Government) who have introduced or improved various crops grown in the region, especially drought tolerant crops. The overall goal of the project is to drive the adoption of sustainable, market-driven value chains that improve yields and reduce food losses, improve food and nutrition security, and contribute to economic growth for farmers in the targeted area, whereas giving entrepreneurship opportunities to the community of practice. Improved value chain practices are required to derive sustainable livelihoods and a market pull of nutritious products for consumers at large. Most of the smallholder farmers in EMC have not adopted improved technologies in crop husbandry and postharvest handling. Consequently they need exposure and training on the use of these technologies.  We have chosen to work with the youth under the age of 29 years of age who make up more that 60% of the population in EMC and the majority of them face critical employment challenges and economic stagnation. In this scenario, proactive programming innovations, and investments that meet food and nutrition security goals and support job creation have the potential to enable them youth to transform EMC towards increased prosperity, stability and security.

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.

Elgeyo Marakwet County is in Rift Valley Kenya and is divided into three topographic zones namely: the Highlands, the Kerio Valley and the Escarpment. The Kerio River binds the county on the eastern side. The Elgeyo Escarpment stands out distinctly and causes elevation differences of between 900m up to 1,500 m. Temperatures range between the lows of 15° C in the highlands to highs of 30° C at the bottom of the valley. The area along the Kerio Valley is largely semi-arid but with high production potential because of fertile soils and in Marakwet West there is an irrigation scheme. Agriculture is the main stay activity and a key source of livelihood for the people. Rainfall ranges between 850 mm in the valley to 1500 mm in the highlands, the long rains between March and July, and the short rains between August and September. The valley is semi-arid because of the relatively low rainfall, high temperatures and high evapotranspiration. Climate change appears to have led to aggravated irregularity of the rains, higher temperatures and higher evapotranspiration, especially within the valley. The population density ranges between about 150 and 100 persons km-2, with the attendant land holdings ranging between 1.4 ha and 7.0 ha per farm. Population increase is rated at about 2.5% pa and is currently at approximately 456,000. The major food crops grown in the county are maize, beans, finger millet, sorghum, green grams, groundnuts, carrots, African leafy vegetables, cabbages, irish potatoes, peas and sweet potatoes. The fruits grown include pawpaws, mangoes and avocadoes. Major livestock include cattle, sheep, goats, chicken and donkeys. Post-harvest losses in this county are high due to lack proper storage facilities as well poor preservation methods and are estimated to be 20-30%. The poverty levels are relatively high and there is relatively high food and nutrition insecurity leading to poor growth and stunting among children below five years which is at 12.6% compared to national rate of 11% and stunting at 29.9% compared to the national rate 26%. Poor storage and post- harvest technologies due to challenging access to markets, low adoption of improved technologies and poor prices offered by traders who supply the surrounding towns in Kenya affect incomes from the produce. EMC recognizes the challenges of youth unemployment which drags them into participating in social evils such as drug abuse and thefts, and has plans to engage them in agribusiness along the value chain of production, processing and selling of value added produce. EMC also recognizes the need to tap into the experience of researchers and technical experts from various organizations. The community in EMC practice the same culture and their diets are similar, mainly cereals, legumes and vegetables and some livestock products which are rarely consumed. The youth are encouraged to participate in the county development other than migrating to the urban areas.  Better farm and off farm practices will lead to increased livelihood activities and healthier diets and turn the economic development of the people in this County around.

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.

In EMC and Kenya at large, youth unemployment is higher than the overall national unemployment rate and stands at 35% for youth. Agriculture remains the backbone of Kenya’s economy, directly contributing 24% of the annual GDP and another 27% indirect contribution (ASDS, 2010 – 2020). The sector is critical in creating employment for the youth. Recent research in EMC recorded 40% postharvest losses in fruits and vegetables, roots and tubers and cereals and legumes (Chepwambok et al 2019), whereas only 3% of the study population were food secure and  66.7% and 27.5% of the children between 2-5 years of age were found to be stunted and underweight respectively, in the midst of food and nutrition insecurity due to seasonality, postharvest losses and unemployment affecting the households in the community (Kipyego & Mugalavai, 2019).  Lactating and pregnant women, the adolescents and the elderly also suffer from diseases such as anaemia and adult malnutrition due to low quality diets.  This is attributed to deep rooted cultural habits that restrain them from adapting the newly introduced nutritious crop varieties and selling all their meager harvest. The challenges that the youth face include low exposure to good agronomic practical skills in climate smart agriculture, limited value addition and domestic processing skills of agricultural commodities thus making produce less profitable especially when produce are sold to green markets.  Constraints hindering value addition include limited knowledge and skills on how to add value to agricultural products, limited information on value addition technologies, inadequate capacity to meet greater demand and expectations of customers in terms of quality, standards, quantity and consistency. Also limited access to markets and marketing information, non-conformity to agricultural produce and products standards, inadequate markets and marketing infrastructure and poor post-harvest management, insufficient marketing and related entrepreneurial skills, inconsistent quality and high costs of inputs and low prices for produce and products, inefficiencies and high transaction costs along the value chains, and weak farmer organizations. Inadequate policies to support youth in agri-preneurship and gender inequality also hold back economic and agricultural development among the youth in agriculture.  There also exist underutilized processing technologies that could be used by the youth for better entrepreneurship. Climate change and weather variability contribute to low crop productivity which negatively impact on food and nutrition security as well as household incomes and gravely contribute to environmental degradation and poverty. The challenge is to ensure that farmers have ready access to context specific climate smart adaptation practices to help them improve productivity, and enhance resilience activities to climate change risks thereby ensuring sustainable value chain livelihoods. Inadequate and dormant policies too also pose a future challenge. 

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

The Future vision aims at integrating technology and climate smart practices using a community systems approach where sustainable agronomic and agroprocessing systems will be deployed. Specifically, to tackle Target 12.3 of the SDGs that calls for the reduction of food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses by 2030 (FAO, 2019). Several food processing technologies have been piloted on farm produce in the area, and there is urgent need to embark on scale up activities particularly involving the youth from the County, towards empowering them with agri-prenuership competencies, especially targeting the provision of nutritious feeding products for children, vulnerable populations and households at large and not limited to other market options, so as to reach the larger community and other Counties through diverse market links using a digital platform and other avenues of  marketing for economic growth towards a sustainable 2050. Implementation of the small-scale cluster development models of interactive livelihoods among the youth and other contextual enterprise players will be enhanced and encouraged.  The targeted areas also include University of Eldoret (UOE) for on-station participatory training activities which are carried out at the Food Processing, Training and Incubation Centre (FPTIC) which is a HUB whose vision is to create cottage level food processing enterprises that can improve livelihoods for the youth with an equal gender perspective in mind. The youth are exposed to technological innovations that have been recently developed through R4D such as improved multi-purpose solar driers, fruit picking devices, extruder machines, portable milling machines, hermatic bags, hygrometers and all, that previous USAID innovation lab projects have been promoting through research and extension. More youth groups(Spokes)  in this area will be identified and capacitated by UOE, KALRO, KIRDI, KEBS and WVI  at the Food Processing Training and Incubation Centre (FPTIC), The spokes will pursue different agribusiness products according their major contextual food system produce in the sub-county, grouped as roots and tubers, fruits and vegetables, and cereals and legumes, whereas encouraging a choice and exchange effect among groups and across sub counties. In EMC, there also exist processing plants for tomatoes, mangoes, groundnuts and cereals which are not under full capacity utilization and can be used for this purpose. Each spoke will identify contract farmers and marketers, preferably fellow youth in order to create a broader and sustainable impact on the value chain approach from production-processing, to the market. They will pursue food entrepreneurship within a given structure that is agreed upon through a participatory approach by the group to enable gender considerations, especially towards equitable access, control and utilization towards empowerment of both sexes in their cultural areas of operation.

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.

There shall be improved quality and additional quantity of grain and plant based fortificants with higher nutrient levels and low mycotoxin (aflatoxin) available by using improved agronomic practices and drying and storage technologies, to be used for processing nutritious and safe line products.  The youth will tap into the supply chain at the farm, processing and retail level so as to turn the farm produce into economic public goods for the markets, so to create meaningful livelihoods in a business to business model among each other and to reduce malnutrition in the EMC and the country at large. , be linked to markets and deriving economic benefits; youth groups and value chain actors linked and deriving services from financial institutions; (all inclusive gender); A digital platform implemented, enhancing and fast-track information to retailers whenever produce is available;  At policy level, the County Government will assure that the youth are adequately involved in empowerment activities by  Increasing their market share of production and processing activities in target value chains; enabling environment for youth to be employed or become employees  in target value chains, Increase in types of jobs (diversity) created in target value chains; four innovation platforms established and operating for the target value chains; youth and other stakeholders receiving capacity building/training on new technologies and business development along target value chains using a trainer of trainers approach; farmers participating in youth exchange learning tours and youth tours conducted for each target value chain; Increase in farmer incomes resulting from contract farming for an enabling youth enterprises; policy briefs on scale up, processing manuals for developed value chain innovations for scaling to hubs for larger youth populations access through Technical and vocational education training institutes .

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

There is a pressing need to find ways to ensure access to food for the world’s one billion hungry today through sustainable production and consumption patterns. Food and nutrition security strategies that aim to invest in productivity and employment, enhancing growth, and focusing on the smallholder, the youth and women and the poor are encouraged. Transforming small-scale agriculture from subsistence to innovative, commercially oriented and modern agriculture is likely to offer multiple livelihood and employment opportunities to the youth under the economic pillar of Vision 2030, Kenya. Proactive programming innovations, and investments that meet food security goals and support job creation have the potential to enable the youth population to transform the entire EMC region towards increased prosperity, stability and food and nutrition security (USAID, 2017, FAO, 2019). The main goal of the vision is to equip youth of mixed gender with appropriate agribusiness competencies and specifically to  promote adoption of technologies to improve productivity in identified processing value chains; to pursue agribusinesses skills along the identified value chains; To promote value addition for food and nutritional security in identified value chains; and To promote entrepreneurship and pursue digital marketing in identified value chains; and to promote eco-effective entrepreneurship along the business model. The afore mentioned  issues affect the youth (18-29 years) who have abundant human and social capital, in the midst of natural resources which should be tapped and utilized for their economic empowerment. In the smallholder farm units the postharvest losses affect women the most because they are responsible for drying, storage and processing of grain for household use.

The vision described is significant because it tackles a livelihood which will encourage multiple livelihoods to thrive and bring on board the unemployed youth and other players for win-win sustainable development practices towards a better 2050 for EMC. The basic task in this Food Vision project will be to give proper priority to short-term and long-term food availability and to turn youth into contextual change agents through livelihoods that lead to better access to food. Creating community based ownership and empowerment by relying on the exchanges of talents and knowledge that exists among them would be a positive step towards strengthening social relationships and nurturing sustainable rural development using community based resources and institutional help. To increase agricultural productivity and build resilience to climate change risks in targeted smallholder farming and pastoral communities in Kenya, and in the event of an eligible crisis or emergency, to provide immediate and effective response.

Eco-effective entrepreneurship through the value chain of production and postharvest agro processing and marketing activities will provide an avenue for a transformational approach to interactive livelihoods among the youth and other players which can enable communities to generate maximum added value or throughput (Braungart & Mcdonough, 2002). It is important for every output to be an input for the next product and the output generated should not only be useful to the individual but to the wider environment using the notion of action-habitat (Remmers, 2009) in which is an area whereby every individual will feel responsible and feel authorized to value and manage resources sustainably through reciprocal movements that will be seen in the culture of collaboration (Wilber, 2000) that will be contextually promoted. Improved agronomic practices through agro intensive agriculture and use of improved breeds of seeds that are contextually viable for each of the sub counties as promoted by various stakeholders in EMC will help in deriving higher diversity in crops and trees produced and yields that can be fed into the household use, green market and processing and retail chains for a market pool of nutritious foods for utilization and better health of consumers. The growing of manuring and fruit trees and water harvesting for environmental health and consistency in farming practices will also continually be encouraged towards a well nourished 2050. It is expected that this approach will facilitate the emergence of lasting eco-effective entrepreneurship (Gason, 2011) within the youth spokes, divided into clusters of development and driven by them from the knowledge and skills gained from the training hub and field extension services. It has also been argued that food availability can be significantly increased without having to increase production by curbing the postharvest losses (Hodges et al, 2011). It is critical to address social-cultural constraints, gender norms and relations in order to promote equitable participation and create an enabling environment for engagement in agriculture.

And in the context of lack of markets and poor market links experienced by smallholder farmers (Chepwambok, Mugalavai & Adede, 2019) for farm produce, and rampant seasonal food losses at postharvest and retail markets, it is important to tap into youthful wasted human capital in order to empower them and create employment through capacity building towards agribusiness entrepreneurship.

Type of activities will include:

Capacity building on production and management; postharvest management and collective marketing; Organize youth in Common Interest Groups for production, value addition and marketing; Creation of effective channels for youth to access markets and credit facilities; Dissemination of technologies through demonstrations; Establishment, strengthening and operationalizing innovation platforms in specific value chains; Enhancement of value addition through enhanced technology, nutritional security and job creation in the specific product value chain; Creating a recipe book for improved family and retail products;  Implement a market-led model for commercialization of the technologies along specific value chains; Promotion of youth to youth learning exchange tours; Promotion of sustainable natural resource management especially planting of trees and protecting water towers. It is expected that high quality processed products will be innovated for the market for improved nutritional well-being of the children in early care centers, households in the community and population at large, by creating a market pool of biofortified crops, nutritious flours and other means of utilizing the newly developed drought tolerant crops. The youth will be empowered to run successful enterprises in an organized setting and market linkages will be created through a digital platform that will enable the groups to link to the producers, whereas potential buyers will also be listed and the innovations by spokes will be made known to them for purchase and pitched to potential financiers.  Overall, the youth will be imparted with entrepreneurial knowledge and skills to enable them to start-up or expand their enterprises and to innovate and also improve on their existing ideas using a R4D model.

Futurecasting and impact indicators will be disaggregated by gender and expected to rise from the current 2:3 which favours men to 1:1 through revised policy by 2050.

The following futurecasting outputs are expected:

More farmers especially youth reached by the project; Yield increase in EMC crop and tree and water protection value chains; More farmers especially youth adopting new technologies; More farmers especially youth linked to markets and deriving economic benefits; More farmers especially youth and EMC value chain actors linked and deriving services from financial institutions; Increase in  marketed share of production in target value chains; Increase in number of youth employed in EMC crop value chains; Increase in types of jobs (diversity) created in EMC crop value chains and occupied by youth; increase in number of innovation platforms  established and being operated by the youth for each of the  target value chains; More farmers and processors especially youth and other  stakeholders receiving capacity building/training on new technologies and  business development along target value chains;  More farmers and processors especially youth participating in  exchange learning tours and number of tours conducted for each target value chain; Increase in farmer and processers incomes resulting from the action; Increase in Availability of locally processed, enriched foods available to vulnerable populations; Increase in market share of safe, high-quality, and competitive cereal- plant based fortified products and clear product lines in the marketplace and also reaching households and early care centres;  Innovative platform for delivery of successful food technologies established; Increase in Agro-based partnership for furthering the initiatives; sustainable policies developed for use among the value chain actors.

 The translation products will include value chain manuals which will be categorized into fruits and vegetables; cereals and legumes and roots and tubers. The main translation partner will be EMC government, department of agriculture, who have been part of the process right from the start. to enable buy in and sustainable scale up practices to more youth groups as time goes by within the county in organized youth exchange tours, demonstrations and introduction to the FPTIC-UOE Hub for further training. Policy briefs on gender inclusiveness during training and also use of digital platform for marketing will be derived for smoothed market linkages and will be drafted in partnership with the EMC government and scaled to other Counties.  There is also a business case for private actors to be part of the translation team as users or facilitators of the translation products, and who will also be able to link the products to other value chain markets.

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Team (4)

Violet's profile
22708845Dk's profile

"Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute is a government body with a branch that serves Elgeyo Marakwet County and tasked with Agribusiness training in value addition and technology and enables youth with market penetration and funding knowledge and options."

EMMACULATE's profile

Role added on team:

"Emmaculate and Kenya Bureau of Standards(KEBS) will be the regulatory and licencing body for the products developed by the youth and others. KEBS will also give the youth skills and knowledge required for high quality products for the market and the specifications for each product."

David's profile
David Agili

Role added on team:

"David is the Director of an NGO by the name Rural Livelihood Improvement in Elgeyo Marakwet County which targets both small holder farmers for improvement of agronomic practices and drying and storage practices together with agro processing and will be a useful resource in the scaling up of innovations to a wide net of the youth and the rest of the population."


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Violet Mugalavai great to see you joining the Prize!

We noticed your submission is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have your submission included in the Prize. Even if you've not started populating your Vision just yet, by publishing your submission you can make it public for other teams in your region to see, get in touch and possibly even collaborate with you.

You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your Vision at any time before 31 January 2020 by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. If you need inspiration or guidance, take a look at the Food Vision Prize Toolkit. linked here:

Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming weeks.

Photo of Violet Mugalavai

Thanks. Tell me, l have checked my characters for some of the sections l want to upload but l am told that l have exceeded and yet l think l didnt exceed. kindly explain.

Photo of Lauren Ito

Violet Mugalavai can you email our team a screenshot of the issue you are experiencing?

Photo of Violet Mugalavai

Dont worry. I am ok now. A team member is not reflecting on your entries. What could be the matter?

Photo of Lauren Ito

We see you have three team members, is that correct?

Photo of Violet Mugalavai

I am not able to register others. They logged on and registered but are not visible on the list to pick from. Eg Patrick ketiem from Kalro, Emmanuel Ayua from Purdue, Ben Kibor melly from Elgeyo Marakwet County, David Agili from an NGO

Photo of Lauren Ito

Violet Mugalavai I do not see any of those people registered in our OpenIDEO system. Please ask them to send you the URL links to their profiles and verify those are the names they used. Again, they do not show up in my system on the back end of the Challenge.