Farm Concern International, FCI believes that combination of innovative technologies and inclusive business models is key in unlocking opportunities for smallholder commercialization and competitive participation in profitable markets. FCI through this approach embedded under the Commercial Villages Model seeks to foster participatory identification of demand driven innovations and technologies that increase farmers’ access to inputs, increases yield, enhances collective marketing action among smallholders as well as linkages to business services providers. FCI’s innovations include; ICT Platforms for market access and capacity development, climate smart technologies like ‘kijiji’ drip Irrigation kits, Village processing equipment and processing technologies, post-harvest management among others. FCI’s ICT applications in Agricultural commercialization and market development include; AfmaX which is mobile telephony platform based on USSD technology that connects farmers to markets and other essential business service providers. This application runs on normal feature phones in Kenya and has so far enabled trade among smallholder farmers amounting to USD 886,365,625.00 FCI also champions utilization of web and mobile enabled applications for farmers’ capacity development. A case in point is www.ehinga.org a digital platform for comprehensive access to Agricultural information developed and deployed to in partnership with World Vision Rwanda. FCI has also embarked on a Commercial Villages digitization process under eKijiji (eCommercial Villages) initiative a development that will oversee all services and solutions provided under the commercial villages infrastructure digitized for scale up. Other Innovations include; virtual real time data collection tools, near-the- farm (village) processing equipment designed by FCI and fabricated by selected partners across Africa.
Commercial Zones approach designed by Farm Concern International, FCI under the Commercial Village Model focuses on sustainably deepening the impact at scale (wider geographical coverage) through enhancing vibrant agri-trade enterprises and investments.
The African Traditional Foods (ATFs) is an FCI approach to food security and nutrition through promoting production and utilization of traditional foods which are well adapted to local conditions and require low levels of inputs and are resilience to climate change, pests, diseases and economic turbulence. The adaptability to climate change and resistant to pests and diseases ensure availability of quantity, nutritious and diverse household foods. The approach is anchored on the FCI Commercial Villages Action Plan where villages prioritize African Traditional Foods (ATFs) for healthy lifestyles, through commercialization to improve accessibility to a wide range of traditional foods as well as household incomes.
ATFs are highly nutritious and the approach fosters wide consumption of nutritious, healthy, diverse and safe food by various cohorts, including under-five, elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers as well as invalids members of the Commercial Villages. FCI has been on the forefront in educating consumers on the benefits of ATFs for increased demand through which household incomes are addressed to ensure stable and sustainable availability, access and utilization of these foods. FCI has addresses the poor man’s crop and livestock perception through consumer market analysis and awareness campaigns which has turned around this view. The ATFs approach is supported by FCI market-led programming through various strategies that ensure smallholder households integrate nutritious traditional crops and livestock for improved livelihoods.
Rural women do not have the luxury of day care facilities for infants and toddlers, a situation that greatly restricts their integration and participation in economic activities within and outside their homes. Toto Care an FCI innovative approach is a mobile village day care unit equipped with toys and games to engage children in play activities when their mothers attend Commercial village meetings. This approach seeks to ensure that mothers with infants and pre-school children participate in village and group meetings contributing to decision making processes there in. FCI continues to work with the farmers to develop innovations that address their needs and that allow them to participate in market development and commercialization actively.
Agriculture remains the key driver of Sub-Saharan Africa’s rural economy. It contributes 17% of aggregate GDP, and accounts for 40% of total economic output in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In Eastern Africa for instance, more than 76 percent of people, the majority of whom are poor, smallholder farmers-rely almost exclusively on agriculture for their consumption and income needs and most of them (more than 50%) survive on less than USD 1 per person per day. Majority of smallholder farmers in SSA have not been able to tap market opportunities due to low entrepreneurial skills, low production and productivity as well as limited access to remunerative markets. Among the root causes for this challenge is the fact that business development service providers in public and private organizations are poorly equipped with value chain and market capacity development to support smallholder farmers’ shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture and access to profitable markets. The AFMA network seeks to change this scenario.
The AFMA (African Farms & Markets) Network is a multi-sectoral and multi-value chains virtual platform that brings together all key actors in the agricultural value chains.
The platform aims to harmonize the efforts of the value chain players through enhancing market information exchange, learning and sharing among all the value chain actors in different value chains in an interactive web and mobile based platform. These actors include; small, medium and large scale farmers, (individually as well as through farmer organizations), agro-input suppliers, formal and informal traders, (individually as well as through trader associations), government agricultural extension workers, research institutions that are in the agricultural sector, rural development agencies/actors, donors , agro-processors (both large and SMEs), banks and micro-finance institutions
The network offers a platform for multi-sectoral trade, information sharing and other business related interactions to the various actors involved in agricultural value chains, in Africa and beyond. It is an intervention towards agriculture commercialization, economic empowerment and poverty reduction among the smallholder farmers.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond