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Smallholders Kenya

Seeing what it takes to improve Kenyan livelihoods.

Since 2009 the Syngenta Foundation has worked with partners to improve the crop yields and income of Kenyan smallholders. The work has focused on modern agriculture knowledge, conservation agriculture practices, and facilitating access to market.

Our Kenyan team helps, for example, to train farmers in conservation agriculture. It also supports them in proper use of crop protection products, and in access to appropriate technology in a market-led extension service. See what a local business magazine says.

Much of our Seeds2B work runs in Kenya. For example, we help private companies to establish commercial seed production in partnership with smallholders. This enables farmers to access new varieties from public research institutions. An example is the licensing agreement between Kisima Farm Limited and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). The agreement covers multiplication of 'Dutch Robijn' and 'Desiree' potatoes developed by KALRO. Success has not come overnight, but an important milestone followed in February 2017: Kisima paid its first royalties to KALRO. The company is committed to increasing its seed potato sales to smallholders, and anticipates significantly higher payments to KALRO in future.

We are also helping to tackle a huge threat to East African harvests: Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND). In 2017, Kenya's The Sower magazine reported on our two initiatives against MLND. Here's an update.

Extending the power of extension    
Another initiative, begun in 2015, opens new routes to farm info. Devoted to Agricultural Extension via Radio in Northern Kenya, it provides farming information in local languages. The project aims to raise productivity in a region so far lacking major extension initiatives of this type. We're delighted both with the interim results and the concluding survey - here is a summary
See here why radio and language choice are so important for agricultural extension. A university paper by one of the project leaders also examines the value of radio for extension in Kenya, and notably for smallholders. And an external author explains briefly why radio matters so much.
What climate change means for smallholders
In 2015, the Foundation also helped a Basel University Master's student to write a thesis. Her topic is "Smallholder Farming Systems in Kenya: Climate Change Perception, Adaptation and Determinants". Yuan Zhou from our Basel team co-supervised the thesis; George Osure, Rachel Temoi and Samuel Gikonyo were among the Kenyan colleagues involved.    

A new tool for successful agribiz: Farmforce

In May 2013, our Foundation launched Farmforce, the world’s first mobile-based business solution for outgrower schemes with smallholders. The new platform helps ensure food quality and farmer incomes. Our Director Marco Ferroni comments: "Professional buyers and producers often leave smallholders behind. But this can and must change. Farmforce helps more farmers earn decent incomes. It will spread fast from Kenya to other countries." Read the launch media release.

On the subject of "tools": Our Foundation launched its original insurance program in Kenya in a partnership that included M-Pesa. A 2016 Science study looks at this mobile money system's long-term poverty and gender impacts.  

Special feature: a Foundation nursery takes recognized root

The Alime Commercial Nursery started up in 2009 with help from the Foundation. In 2011, the Kenyan Horticultural Crop Development Authority selected the nursery to assist in research on dwarf avocados. The initial aim here is to propagate 200 trees.
This government recognition after just two years marks a notable success. It demonstrates that the Foundation's model for fruit tree commercial nurseries meets the highest business registration requirement and phytosanitary regulations, including the best choice of root stock.
Originally focused on the market in Laikipia, Alime Commercial Nursery is now a government-recognized supplier for the Central and Upper Rift Valley, 500 km from Nanyuki. The nursery will also contribute to shaping policy at the national level.