Commercialization and Market Access for Agro-pastoralists in Northern Kenya is sparking market sensitivity by Agro-pastoralists who have been organized into trading blocs known as Commercial Villages. FCI was able to share weather forecasts, warning systems and market information with the Agro-pastoralists in November and December 2016. Agro-pastoralists that heeded to the warnings were able to make a profit of approximately 166% more than their counterparts who are not members of FCI Commercial Villages.

The information enabled the Agro-pastoralists in the Commercial Village to be able to sell their goats and sheep (shoats) before the drought began, at a high price of 4,000 Kenya shillings (USD 40) per animal. This was made possible through FCI Mobilization where they were linked to various traders to be able to sell the livestock. One such trader is Mr. Hussein Mutune. He is a trader who buys shoats from agro-pastoralists in Marsabit County and sells in Nairobi’s Kariobangi market. He benefitted greatly after learning collective sourcing of shoats from FCI under the Tearfund funded Agro-pastoralist Commercialization and Markets Programme in Northern Kenya. He used to source his shoats from individual farmers or from the highly priced local markets denying him vital cash flow to meet normal basic family needs. Mr. Hussein makes three trips in a month, where he trades 450 shoats.

This was made possible through linkage to Commercial Villages and establishment of bulking centres for shoats where CV members would aggregate about 150 shoats per month agreed upon with the buyer. He was able to source these shoats from Agro-pastoralists in Dirib Gombo, Jaldesa, Shur, Boru Haro, Kijiji and Kabale at a buying price of between 4,000 Kenya Shillings per animal. The Commercial Village model and establishment of bulking centres saved Mr. Mutune a lot of money and valuable time spend in sourcing shoats from individual farmers. Before the FCI intervention, farmers were not able to sell their livestock at a profit.

Mr. Adisu Barako is also another trader who buys shoats from agro-pastoralists in Marsabit County and sells in Isiolo and Nairobi markets. He benefitted greatly after learning collective sourcing of shoats from FCI under the Tearfund funded Agro-pastoralist Commercialization and Markets Programme in Northern Kenya. He used to source his shoats from individual farmers or from the highly priced local markets denying him vital cash flow to meet normal basic family needs.

After capacity building by FCI on collective sourcing from Commercial Villages, Mr Adisu weekly sales volume increased from 25 Shoats to an average of 60 Shoats resulting to a 240% increase in monthly sales from Ksh 75,000 to Ksh180,000. This was made possible through linkage to Commercial Villages and establishment of bulking centres for shoats where CV members would aggregate between 35- 50 shoats in a specific day agreed upon with the buyer.

The Commercial Village model and establishment of bulking centres saved Mr. Adisu a lot of money and valuable time spend in sourcing shoats from individual farmers. Before the FCI intervention, Mr. Adisu would source 25 shoats in three or more days but he is now able to source 60 shoats within a day. This ease of doing business has allowed him more time to concentrate on his farm and attend to other family engagements.

Mr. Adisu has not only been ploughing back his profits to grow his business but has also constructed a semi- permanent house estimated at Ksh 48,000 from the profits of his business. He is optimistic to double his returns next year by sourcing shoats twice a week.

From selling to traders like Mr. Husein Mutune and Mr. Adisu Barako, currently the farmers are able to make profits and do savings. This was achieved through partnership with various financial institutions, where the money saved would be used to restock the livestock once the drought ends. 

According to Participatory Market Assessment for Marsabit County by Farm Concern International under the Agro-pastoralist Commercialization and Markets in Northern Kenya, Nomadic pastoralism is the dominant source of livelihood in Marsabit County supplemented by a limited amount of agriculture along the rivers. Pastoralism provides more than 50% of income to three-quarters of the population (FH Kenya Livestock Markets Study, 2012). With this knowledge, Farm Concern International, FCI through the Agro-pastoralist Commercialization and Markets Access programme in Northern Kenya supported by Tearfund aimed at building livelihoods resilience among 4,161 agro pastoralist households through improved production, value addition and trade of select commodities in the Marsabit Sub-county.

 

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Ms. Diana Kalekye a Markets & Trade Officer at Farm Concern International, FCI with Mr. Dickson Ndaka at his Cassava Farm in Mbuvo Commercial Village, Makueni Kenya


Mr. Ndaka is an outstanding farmer who believes in doing things big and right. The 63 year old farmer is a go getter who stops at nothing but profits accrued from farm products. When Cassava Commercialization & Village Processing Initiative was introduced in Kathonzweni Sub County, Mr. Ndaka took the initiative positively and put 2 acres of land under cassava hoping to get good returns. His successful sale of cassava, gave him the confidence to double his land under production of cassava where he has now 4 acres of land and he is planning on the next sales along with his neighbors in Mbuvo Commercial Village, which was established in 2010. He is successfully using his income to pay school fees for his daughter and meeting his family’s basic needs. 

The vision of Mbuvo Commercial Village is to eradicate poverty through investing in market-led production of cassava for food security and household income. The initiative resulted from village commercialization campaigns conducted by Farm Concern International, FCI, with support from Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) under Cassava Village Processing Programme. The campaigns were geared towards unveiling the market opportunities in cassava farming, village processing and collective marketing of cassava products through the FCI Commercial Village Model. FCI facilitated formation of Mbuvo commercial village governance and leadership systems through organizing 250 farmers into 8 Commercial Producer Groups (CPGs) which formed a trading bloc. This facilitated linking the groups with other interested stakeholders and buyers who created a huge demand for cassava cuttings and tubers.  FCI linked the Commercial Village with Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) which trained them on modern farming activities and introduced them to new improved varieties of cassava cuttings.  

As a result, 32,315 cassava cuttings were bought from KALRO Katumani at a cost of USD 697.95 and planted on 15 acres of land. Although the rains failed them at the end of 2010, the Commercial Village mobilized its members to plant again in March 2011 in the 600 acres bought by the 300 members and a total of 16,016 metric tons harvested was consumed domestically while the excess was chipped with a chipper supported by FCI. With the introduction of the Cassava Village Processing Initiative in 2014, Mbuvo CV has gone into product diversification by growing green grams and cowpeas from which they earn a total of USD 75,260 annually.

Currently, the Commercial Village has a virtual advantage over the other Commercial Villages due to e- learning and training kit provided by FCI. The kit contains various training modules that the CV members use to train themselves on Good Agricultural Practices, nutrition, post- harvest management and financial management. The CV was also linked to private sector and wholesale buyers, research organization, Ministry of Agriculture and input companies and seed entrepreneurs to access improved planting materials and quality inputs. Mr. Ndaka is a classic example of the impact of the Commercial Village Model and how cassava can be used by small holder farmers for climate change resilience and food security.  

To Mr. Ndaka, he was just trying because he was not very sure of the market because growing large scale cassava was not a   common practice in the community, what the farmer was sure of is that a few farmers grew local cassava varieties for many years and sold to local traders earning very little money. However, Farm Concern International partnered with Kiuuku Commercial Village where Mr Ndaka is the chairman and committed to link farmers to markets for cassava and other value chains. 

When the cassava in Mr Ndaka’s farm matured, money was just a call away; Cassava Option Ltd was linked to this farmer and business begun, as at today Cassava Option has harvested over 6 tones from Mr Ndaka’s farm earning him ksh. 96,000 for fresh cassava, part of this money has been used to pay school fees for her daughter, meet family basic needs and the rest ploughed back to the farm by preparing land in readiness for planting more cassava.

Mr Ndaka planted 4 acres of cassava in November 2015 and has continued to harvest the tubers and kept the cuttings looking forward to sell them at a later date when prices are at peak. Interestingly, this farmer used 40,000 cassava cuttings which he had stored as he was advised and trained by Farm Concern International; he used 20,000 cuttings for his 4 acres and sold 18,000 cassava cuttings at ksh 2 per cutting earning kshs 36,000. Mr Ndaka is a fulfilled man and a witness of the dawn of cassava commercialization in Eastern Kenya. The table below gives an idea of the kind of profit one makes, as well as the amounts of money spent on inputs. Cassava, therefore enables farmers to make profits and easily take care of their needs and better their livelihoods.

 

 

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Mr. Kombo Khamis is a farmer living in Bumbwini village, which is located in North B district. Mr. Khamis grows many crops, but her major ones are cassava, sweet potato and rice. He performs his farming activities with the help his wife, but he is the one who bears the overall responsibility in managing the farm. Cassava being his major food crop as well as cash crop, it is planted mainly during Vuli season (September-November) and Masika season (March-May). Mr Khamis use both improved and local varieties of cassava and apply some organic manure in his cassava fields.  

Mr. Kombo has about 5 acres, but three acres are planted with cassava improved variety he sourced from Kizimbani Research Station mother garden supported by CVPP-Z project. He sells his products (especially cassava roots) at the village market and some time at farm gate. His income from selling cassava roots and stems is about Tsh. 500,000 to 600,000 per season.

He used his income from cassava to purchase 45 iron sheets for his 3 roomed house and a motorbike and paying school fees for his children. 

 

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Foum Makame, a married father of six children, is a farmer from Kazole village in North ‘B’ district who grows cassava as a cash crop. His other crops grown in his land include banana, rice and sweet potato. Mr. Foum has about 3 acres under cassava where he uses family labor for the rest of the field operations except for bush clearing and ridge making where he uses hired labor.

Mr. Foum used to grow cassava in the past but he was disappointed with the performance of local varieties of cassava which were susceptible to diseases and pests, and decided to turn into other crops. However, the attitude changed when he used improved cassava planting materials of Kizimbani variety and realized increased yields compared to traditional varieties. He decided to grow cassava for roots and planting materials.

He sells cassava at farm gate and used part of the income (Tsh. 1,700,000) to educate his three sons and established a poultry keeping business with 500 layers. His 200 birds produce about 8-9 trays of eggs earning him Tsh 72,000 per day. 

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Mr. Marando Charles who is aged 50 and married with four children is a prominent cassava farmer from Kizimbani village which is also a home for the common Kizimbani Research station situated about 17 KMs off the Western part of Zanzibar town (The stone town). It is within the West A district of Unguja Island. Mr. Marando took advantage of his village playing host to Kizimbani Research Institute to acquire cassava planting materials produced by the institute with the support from CVPP project to start a business of producing and selling of improved cassava planting materials

Mr. Marando owns 5 acres plot where cassava is his major crop. He usually plants cassava in two seasons, during heavy rain season of September - November (Masika) and short rain season; March -May (Vuli). Out of his 5 acre plot farm, almost 4 acres are being planted with cassava crops and the other one is planted with other food crops. Mr Marando primary importance is on cassava roots but also produces cassava for planting materials, where he sells the planting materials to his Commercial Village and the neighboring farmers. He uses family and hired labor for his farming operations and always plants improved cassava variety called Kizimbani because it has good yield and resistance to pest and diseases. Mr. Marando sells his products at his farm. He is happy with the production and income, where normally gets about Tsh 1, 000,000/- and 3,000,000/- per season. 

Mr. Marando used the income from his cassava agri-business to pay school fees for his children, purchased bricks for his house and provide for his family needs. “Thank you for the Research Station being near me, I easily access Kizimbani Variety which is a savior among the cassava varieties that are still available in Zanzibar,” says Marando

 

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