Africa Harvest helps build capacity of livestock producers to collectively market products
Marsabit County lies some 550km to the northeast of Nairobi and is home to a number of nomadic pastoral communities. The county is designated as an arid area. The main livelihood system is based on livestock: camels, goats and cattle. Average rainfall ranges between 200mm in the drier low lands to about 700mm in the highlands towards Ethiopia. Most of the communities live in the drier parts of the county.
During the period under review, Africa Harvest entered into a partnership with World Vision Kenya to assist in the implementation of the Laisamis Food Nutrition Security and Enhanced Resilience Project (FONSAREP). The goal of FONSAREP is “to contribute to improved food and nutrition security and enhanced resilience to drought in Laisamis Sub-County” and the target beneficiaries are 700 households organized into 35 women-only producer
The nine-month partnership was based on a sub-grant agreement with Africa Harvest providing technical expertise in two areas, namely: supportingthe producer groups to link with existing livestock value chain actors (milk, hides and skins, hooves, horns and bones among others) and supporting the formation of commercial villages and enhance linkages to promote collective marketing of livestock and livestock products.
The theory of change informing Africa Harvest activities was premised on using the market as a catalyst for value chain activities using an inclusive business model that enhances access to services for participating households. This would have the effect of increased or improved household food, nutrition and income security. The project also focused on inclusiveness, defined as the active engagement of target beneficiaries, mostly rural, resource-poor women, men and youth.
Africa Harvest’s role was to fast-track these groups into the value chain as owners, suppliers and producers.The guiding strategy was based on three pillars with the first being to leverage on market-led business based approaches as the main driver for production activities. The Aggregator model, a process innovation piloted by Africa Harvest among smallholder rural producers (of sorghum and poultry) in both Kenya and Tanzania will be adapted to the circumstances in Laisamis to enhance market linkages.
The second pillar involves capacity building of the target producer groups in various aspects of enterprise development and business management. The objective is to encourage mind-set change, preparing the community and producer groups for the new shift in production thinking and laying the foundation for business-based thinking. An exchange visit was undertaken to help the target communities in learning by interacting with other communities that have embraced market-based production regimes.
It was anticipated that this exposure visit would help catalyse the desire to do things differently using the market as a pull factor for downstream production activities. The third pillar was to build strong partnerships (4Ps – Public-Private-Producer-Partnership) fostered to enhance effectiveness, inclusion and sustainability of the interventions. The project team identified 10 producer groups within five clusters that would spearhead collective marketing for the rest of the groups in the target region.
These clusters are in Laisamis, Korr, Ngurnit, Loglogo and Merille areas. Some 10 marketing committees were also formed, each with three representatives that were democratically selected by the group members and given the mandate to spearhead marketing activities on behalf of the groups. This approach is intended to fast-trackmarketing activities based on the group until such a time that an aggregator, preferably one among the three representatives from each group selected to form the marketing committees, takes up the mantle and provides market linkage services.
The groups have so far been trained in product marketing, record keeping, the business development cycle, pricing and various funding options that are open to them. Milk and live animals are the two main products where marketing has been addressed thus far. The main challenge faced during the implementation of this program is the drought condition that has persisted since late 2016 when the rains expected in December failed. The target groups could not engage in any form of marketing since the animals were held back in the grazing lands, known as foras.