Boosting young Kenyan farmers’ incomes through climate-smart agriculture

By Anissa Msallem, Head of Corporate Partnerships, Farm Africa

A six-year partnership between Farm Africa and the supermarket Aldi UK has enabled hundreds of young farmers in western Kenya to develop thriving horticulture businesses and build their resilience to climate change. Focused on increasing production and developing value chains for young farmers, the project helped farmers increase their incomes and develop more sustainable livelihoods.

A six-year partnership between Farm Africa and the supermarket Aldi UK has enabled hundreds of young farmers in western Kenya to develop thriving horticulture businesses and build their resilience to climate change.

The Growing Futures project was first launched in 2016, when Aldi UK teamed up with Farm Africa to launch a three-year initiative enabling young farmers in the northern Rift Valley in western Kenya to grow export-quality crops, set up sustainable relationships with buyers and run profitable farming businesses.

The project reached a total of 525 farmers, 30% more farmers than originally planned. Focused on increasing production and developing value chains for young rural farmers, the project helped farmers increase their incomes and develop more sustainable livelihoods.

In 2019, Aldi UK renewed their support for the project for a further two years, enabling the project to grow further, eventually reaching 653 farmers.

This second phase of the project focused on increasing farmers’ resilience to climate change, as well as boosting their access to markets, with training sessions on topics such as climate-smart agriculture, and accessing and negotiating high-value contracts.

The project introduced the use of solar powered water pumps and cut food loss by helping farmers to improve storage facilities and processes. A new packhouse was constructed, offering farmers the opportunity to market their fresh horticultural produce and reduce post-harvest losses.

Farmers taking part in the project saw their production increase from 1039 metric tonnes (MT) at the start of the project to 2981 MT in 2022, while total annual revenue rose from Ksh 3,410,000 (£23,800) to Ksh 52,349,016 (£365,000).

Project participant Lilian Nanjala from Trans Nzoia County has built a strong livelihood for herself as a horticulture farmer after having received training and support from the Growing Futures project. Despite having a strong entrepreneurial spirit, before the project Lilian and her husband were struggling to buy food, see their children through school and pay rent for their small house.

Now, Lilian and her husband are owners of a piece of land on which they successfully harvest a range of different vegetables for both export and domestic markets. With the income they have earned from farming, they have been able to build a small family house and buy three profitable maize shellers and a power saw that they use in their small-scale timber business.

With her increased income, Lilian has been able to give her family a comfortable life. “My children now attend a good school, which I pay for without struggling. I even forgot that children can be sent home for school fees,” she laughs.

The help Lilian and the other farmers have received from Farm Africa, with support from Aldi UK, will stand them in good stead to continue to build thriving businesses in the years to come.

Through a ‘train the trainer’ model and the formation of local farmer groups, Farm Africa has ensured that the knowledge and skills taught in this project will continue to be passed on to other local farmers and their success will continue to grow.

Liz Fox, Corporate Responsibility Director at Aldi UK, commented: “Aldi UK and Farm Africa’s partnership has created job opportunities for hundreds of young people in western Kenya. As well as fighting poverty, the project has protected the planet by reducing food loss, using solar power and promoting sustainable farming. Aldi UK is proud to continue to support Farm Africa through membership of the charity’s Food for Good network.”

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