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More than sh500m will be spent to lessen famine in the expansive semi-arid area of Ndeiya and Karai in Kiambu County. While launching the project, Agriculture Cabinet secretary Felix Kosgey said the cash will be used to buy certified and drought tolerant seeds, fertilizer, dairy goats and chicken to smallholder farmers.

Farm Concern International (FCI), which is an Africa wide market development agency whose focus is smallholder commercialization, commends the government for its philanthropic move which bolsters and extends its vision to commercialize smallholder communities with increased income for improved, stabilized and sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond. 

To realize the vision, FCI endeavours to build and implement innovative pro-poor market and business models that catalyse solutions for smallholder commercialization and competitiveness in value networks for household economic growth and community empowerment. Recently, FCI innovated a new technology dubbed “AFMA-X” (African Farms & Markets Exchange) to facilitate smallholder farmers’ link with traders for the sale and marketing of their produce and agricultural inputs.

AFMA-X, also described as one stop commodity exchange platform, is designed to inform users on how to access and use finances, best buying practices, selling and how to optimise yield at the farm level.The platform will also facilitate market creation within the various activity hubs in sub-Saharan Africa, link supply and demand and maximise opportunities for supporting farming infrastructure. Research will also be enhanced to provide real time information on key economic and social trends which forecast and determine agricultural production among the smallholder farmers. 

The platform is valuable to the smallholder farmer since it enables the user save time and reduces the cost involved in transport of farm produce especially when collective purchase and selling is done through the Commercial Villages. The platform is also reliable and convenient since the user can receive goods at the comfort of his home where transport is provided by the supplier. The Sh500m project which will be rolled out in three years, will take off this month (February, 2015) when farmers receive 10kg of maize seeds, beans (14kgs) and 50kg of fertilizer for planting this season.

The project targets 6,290 smallholder households that own at least one acre of land; 5,060 in Ndeiya, 879 in Nachu and 351 in Karai wards which are in kikuyu and limuru sub-counties. The project, if successful, would reinforce FCI’s five year DoHoMa project which facilitated the formation of 189 Commercial Villages in Limuru, Lari and Githunguri in Kiambu County. The CVs were linked to 3 formal and 12 informal markets which resulted in sales worth USD 18,661,271. The sales realized resulted from different factors including capacity building where over 2,800 farmers were trained on commercialization aspects that included scheduled production, bunching and other quality specifications. This increased the produce supplied to various markets with most of the farmers meeting the market specification which reduced postharvest losses. Trainings on effective technologies and innovations that would lead to more productivity using fewer resources were also provided. Farmers were also sensitized on the importance of afforestation and in July 2014, 13,300 trees were planted.

In addition, sensitization and establishment of savings schemes was another key intervention which resulted in savings worth USD 8,782.76 registered within 12 Commercial Villages. 7 group accounts have been opened in collaboration with Equity and K-Unity banks. The first phase of this government’s project is expected to cost about sh200 million. Multi-storey gardens will be established to benefit 500 households with small holdings of 0.25 acres in the area which has been depending on relief food.

“Our officers have done the fisibility study. President Kenyatta has already approved the programme,” Mr. Kosgey said, and promised farmers to wait for the seeds. 

 

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FCI VISION :Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond.