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Farm Concern International, FCI with support from Tearfund UK organized a training for Tearfund Eastern and Southern Africa Self Help Group (SHG) & Cluster Level Association (CLA) Model Facilitators from 30th July to 3rd August 2018 in Nairobi Kenya.

The training targeted Tearfund Eastern and Southern Africa Region staff, partner staff and self-help group facilitators through a week long training that focused on agri-value chain development, smallholder commercialization, market information system, linking farmers to markets and agri-enterprise development. The participants were drawn from six countries (Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania & Kenya). The training combined several strategies, approaches and methodology so as to provide the much needed better and refined skill set by the participants.

The trainers applied a variety of techniques in delivering the training in order to enhance knowledge dissemination, understanding, retention and practical application by the target beneficiaries. The training involved use of experiential lectures by experts, group discussions, pictorials/ training topical booklets, video clips and an exposure visit.

Smallholder commercialization was defined as a transformation process where typical social villages and farmer organizations are systematically transitioned from subsistence production systems into market driven profitable trading blocs and competitive supply chain partners through the Commercial Village Model.

“Development of the African economy greatly depends upon the swiftness with which agricultural growth is attained. The rate of agricultural growth in turn depends on the speed with which the current subsistence-oriented production system is transformed into a market-oriented production,” observed Antony Kaunga, FCI Senior Technical Specialist- Arid Lands.

Speaking on converting social groups into commercial groups, Doreen Kinoti - FCI Senior Technical Specialist Value Chain & Financial Inclusion, noted that agri-business accounts for a third of majority of African countries economies hence agribusiness and agriculture in a whole cannot be ignored due to importance of the growing demand.

Doreen highlighted that critical success factors for commercial groups include: financial decisions transparency; youth & women engagement; diversification to avert agricultural risks; engagement of membership; financial liquidity; leadership training on strategy; optimization of existing infrastructure and smart goals.

Harold Mate, Senior Technical Specialist l Agri-Value Chains & Markets- FCI pointed out that the first step in the market development process is to help the farmers; gain awareness of the environment they are working in, understand the problems they encounter and develop actions to address the problem. Marketing is meeting customer’s needs not the associations’ needs, or the groups’ needs or even the farmers’ needs. Based on this definition, agriculture therefore must also follow suit by ensuring that crops produced for commercial purposes meet the needs of those buying them i.e. the traders and the final consumer and by doing so the farmers will ensure that they are always in business.

 

Participants pose for a group photo.

 

Speaking on nutrition, Wendy Kimonye - Nutrition Consultant at Farm Concern International highlighted that inadequate dietary intake and disease account as the immediate causes of malnutrition while underlying causes relate to families including insufficient access to food, inadequate maternal knowledge, inadequate health services and unhealthy environment. Basic causes relate to community and nutrition. Stunting was defined as a form of chronic malnutrition. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median. Stunting indicates that a child is failing to thrive. Stunting affects birth outcomes, impaired brain development, IQ, and causes weakened immune systems. Stunting is almost always irreversible but it can be prevented by improving nutrition for women and children in the first 1,000 days. Globally every one in four children is stunted. 75% of stunted children live in sub-Saharan Africa. Economists estimate that stunting can reduce a country’s GDP by as much as 12%.

Learning Field Visit

FCI organized learning visits to selected farms where the facilitators had hands on engagement with Commercial village leaders to learn and share experiences on various components of commercialization and market development. The team visited 2 farms in Nyeri County, Central Kenya; Tunyai Commercial village and Mr. Daniel Gakuo, Kieni Onion Entrepreneur. The goal was not only to learn from successful commercial villages but also to learn from mistakes made in the past or what facilitators could note as current mistakes, oversight or flaws in their goings-on based on principles learnt during the one week of training.

Course Review, Certificate Award and Closing Remarks

The team remarked that the training was very impactful with applicable lessons gathered for improved commercialization and market linkages, agri-nutrition and climate smart agriculture in their countries. The Tearfund Eastern and Southern Africa SHG Coordinator, Dr. Tefera appreciated FCI for the good coordination of the training and for the vast expertise of the trainers.

FCI Senior Human Resource Manager, Obadiah Rotich in his closing remarks thanked the participants for their cooperation throughout the workshop and challenged them to apply the lessons learned to influence their clients with the same passion. FCI Senior Human Resource Manager, Obadiah Rotich together with Dr. Tefera and Tearfund, Kenya Country Representative, Gladys Wathanga issued certificates to all the participants and officially closed the workshop wishing the participants safe travel back to their respective countries.

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