Agricultural Markets and Policy is one of the new programs that Africa Harvest has added after the launch of the new Strategic Plan. Experience shows that technology development and uptake are not sufficient to sustain the gains made in the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Policies must adapt to changing dynamics and functioning markets are critical to the success of Africa Harvest interventions. Initially, need for this program was driven by growing demand for clean, high-yielding seedlings and farm inputs; but demand was often erratic, underlying the need for properly functioning markets.
Where markets exists, technology uptake is high. Strong links to markets for rural producers creates a vicious circle by boosting productivity, increasing incomes and strengthening food security (IFAD: 2013). As farmers move from subsistence farming, there is increased need for credit to expand, resulting with the need for larger, institutional markets. Access to markets is a critical huddle that smallholders have to overcome, the major challenge being the underdevelopment in agricultural sector (Mwaniki). To address this growing need for better markets and policies, the new program will be guided by these themes:
- Participatory market research and opportunity identification (input, output, credit markets and seed systems.)
- Market development and marketing system innovations;
- Capacity building for farmers in their gender categories, for increasing market access and improving bargaining power;
- Establishment credit, input and output market linkages;
- Establishment of produce marketing centres;
- Policy reviews, analysis and advocacy (extension systems, marketing systems, trade policy, land policy, seed policy and public investment in agricultural R & D)
- Establishment and strengthening of public-private partnerships.
In terms of the Agricultural Markets and Policy Program, during the year under review, Africa Harvest made strides through the following project activities:
1. Sorghum for Multiple Uses (SMU) Value Chain in Kenya and Tanzania
2. Food Security and Livelihoods through an Improved Sorghum Value Chain in Kenya
3. Food Security and Ecosystem Management for Sustainable Livelihoods (FOSEMS)
4. Commercialisation and Regional Trade in Sorghum in Tanzania and Kenya
5. Tissue Culture Banana