The MasterCard Foundation, which is an independent global organization based in Toronto Canada, has launched a $50 million fund to help smallholder farmers in Africa. 

The Foundation's "Fund for Rural Prosperity", is a challenge fund granted to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa by enabling businesses to begin or expand financial services in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative falls in line with Farm Concern International’s (FCI) vision which is to commercialize smallholder farmers with increased incomes for improved, stabilized and sustainable livelihoods in Africa. 

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By James Kabue

1. In your own words, how would you define Agro-Tourism? And do you think Agro-Tourism is a valid way of combating some of Africa’s problems like food insecurity?

Agro-tourism is a niche form of tourism that involves any agricultural based operation or activity that brings visitors to farms, plantations or ranches. This form of tourism, as opposed to wildlife tourism, involves interactions at the farms where the tourists get to see different farm settings, different crops being grown, and processing at the farm both for crops and livestock. This kind of tourism is mainly targeted at individuals who have an interest in farming and would like to get a feel of an actual farming enterprise and know the intricacies involved in farming. This form of tourism is slowly picking up in Africa as farmers have now realized the benefits of this type of tourism as they can earn an extra source of income from charging visitors gate fees to come and view their farms.

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By James Kabue

To most of us, the moment the word Tourism is mentioned, we automatically think of mzungu folk flying over continents to come and see our wildlife. For most of these tourists, the bliss of seeing wild animals roaming in their natural habitat has a great pull on them. And because of this, it’s no surprise that Tourism is the 2nd largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture right here in Kenya. In a quest to make the tourism industry more robust, questions have been asked. What else apart from wildlife can compel visitors to travel to our country in large numbers? What forms of tourism are there which we need to take advantage of? Can we sell our unique culture and give visitors a taste of our history and people?

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By James Kabue

1. What, in your opinion, should African governments and other development agencies do in order to effectively combat the food insecurity problem in Africa?

African governments need to increase their allocation on public expenditure to the agricultural sector and research. Many African countries have rallied to the call of the Maputo Declaration where they agreed to commit 10% of the total government expenditure to the agriculture sector. Countries that spend more in this sector have grown to have middle income economies. Increased spending would help to address the infrastructural gaps that provide enabling environment for agriculture.

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After our models had interacted with FCI staff and eaten a hearty breakfast, it was time to set off to Korogocho market. Accompanying the girls was a team of FCI staff comprised of the Communications crew. We drove off to the market via Thika Superhighway and within a short time, we were there. Like I previously mentioned, it was my first time at Korogocho (popularly known as Koch by the locals). On this day, Koch was busy as usual. The market was abuzz with activity – men and women laden with huge sacks on their backs, women braiding hair and wholesale traders of various food commodities carrying produce for sale. Some occasionally stopped to have a rest as they wiped off their sweaty brows.

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