Enhancing The Lives Of African Small Scale Farmers

Small scale farmers are the backbone of Kenya’s economy. Small scale farm production accounts for 75% of Kenya’s total agricultural output. Despite being an integral part of Kenya’s agricultural chain, they are vulnerable to changing weather systems and drought. With over two thirds of the land in Kenya being classified as arid and semi-arid land, it is difficult for farmers to produce enough food.

A large number of small scale farmers barely farm enough to feed their families let alone produce enough for commercial purposes. Farmers need to adapt and move beyond the typical maize and beans that we are accustomed to and adopt crops resilient to climate change such as sorghum, cassava, millet, groundnuts as well as short cycle livestock like goats and poultry.

Connecting small scale farmers to innovative farming technologies

Africa Harvest bridges that gap and connects rural small scale farmers to drought resistant produce as well as educates them on innovative farming technologies. Through its projects, Africa Harvest has been able to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of rural small scale farmers for the better.

Quality not just quantity

Photo Credit: Africa Harvest

Despite the availability of improved seeds, most small scale farmers are unaware or unable to access them. Africa Harvest provides access to these seeds to farmers as well as educates them on innovative farming methods which enable them to produce higher yields.

Aside from increasing farmer’s yields, Africa Harvest also focuses on introducing farmers to nutritionally enhanced technologies such as Africa bio-fortified sorghum, improved kuroiler chicken and orange fleshed sweet potatoes. These enhanced seeds produce a higher nutritional product.

Planting with the future in mind

plant seedling
Photo Credit: Francesco Gallarotti

Beyond these efforts, there is also a need to look towards the future and promote sustainable farming habits which conserve the environment and utilize the minimal resources without exploiting them. Africa Harvest continuously supports natural resource management by promoting agro-forestry, water harvesting and soil conservation technologies. These sustainable practices enable small scale farmers to maintain and improve their environment. This prevents further damage to their already delicate climate.

Beyond planting – Linking farmers to buyers

Despite middlemen playing an important role of linking farmers to buyers, unfortunately, some tend to take advantage of small scale farmers by offering to buy their products at a price far below the market value. Most farmers have no choice but to accept the low prices due to lack of other buyers as well as to avoid high cost of transporting their products to the market themselves. The market place itself can bring its own uncertainty as the farmers are not assured of making a sale.

Africa Harvest builds small scale farmers’ agricultural chains through aggregation. This enables farmers to join together and produce a consistent quality as well as a larger quantity which enables them to sell to larger organizations and internationally.

Through partnerships with agricultural off-takers Africa Harvest cuts out the cost of a middle man and increases the profits gained by the farmers. These off-takers agree to buy agricultural products directly from the farmers instead of purchasing from an international market. This vital link between the farmers and the buyers eases their worries and increases the profits from their yields thus enabling them to make enough money to supplement their livelihoods.

Despite all the positive impacts that Africa Harvest has made over the years, the work has only just began. Taking everything that we have learnt over the years, Africa Harvest continues to improve the lives of small scale farmers. There is still a lot left to be done in order to eradicate hunger, poverty and malnutrition from Africa.

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