Farm Concern International (FCI), with funding from USAID-Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Programme (USAID-KHCP) implemented activities aimed at improving smallholder farmers’ competitiveness in horticultural productivity and market access for enhanced incomes and improved nutrition and livelihoods. The KHCP project was implemented through five strategic pillars; commercialization, market development, community nutrition, youth and women integration in agro-enterprises as well as participatory monitoring and evaluation.

Commercialization and development of market access for small holder farmers impacted and transformed livelihoods and households in diverse ways such as; an increased number of youth and women were introduced to alternative and rewarding livelihoods through production of vegetables; more smallholder farmers developed partnerships with local buyers within immediate and distant markets for sales of horticulture produce which saw both farmers and traders realizing increased income; increased incomes enabled savings accumulation and banking with formal banking systems; and enhanced household access to vegetables thereby contributing to improved nutrition for household members. One of the beneficiaries of FCI’s intervention was Bar Kopondo Women group in Western Kenya. Bar Kopondo Women group, under the leadership of Joyce Oile, began with 17 members but now has a total of 28 members and still counting. The group was formed to take care of member’s welfare issues and emergencies ranging from financial to social such as loss of loved ones and baby showers. However, the group did not have guidelines on how to operate, lacked income generating activities and focus to achieve their desired goals.

Through FCI intervention, the group fortunes turned around for the better as they were trained on group dynamics, savings and commercialization through the Commercial Village model (CVM). The training sessions motivated the group members to start growing Traditional African Vegetables (TAVs) and kales for sale to schools and informal traders from Migori town.

Following the review of the group constitution, the group has been registered with the Ministry of Social Services and now operates as a legal entity. Additionally, the savings and microfinance sub-committee within the CV has mobilized members to contribute Ksh. 50 (USD 0.56) every month for lease of more land for TAVs commercialization. The Executive Committee in charge of the CV has been trained in record keeping and is now able to keep clear saving records of every member, agronomic skills and business plan development and commercialization through the CV model. The group confesses that input acquisition and extension services has improved tremendously following strategic relationships developed by FCI.

Besides, TAVs and kales, the group also produces Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes (OFSP). Mama Regina, who is a member of the Bar Kopondo group has been growing OFSP and selling to the local traders (informal markets) for income generation. Bar Kopondo Women group intends to be a fully-fledged CPG that will eventually evolve into a Commercial Village trading in TAVs and other commodities. Their future plans involve engaging in other income generating activities such as purchasing tents and chairs for hire during social gatherings within the community. They also intend to write a winning proposal to the Women Fund for funding to enable them diversify their activities into poultry and dairy farming.

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FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond