Africa Free of Hunger, Poverty and Malnutrition

Food and Nutritional Security and Sustainable Livelihoods

Left: Mr Richard Macharia, a TC Banana Nursery entrepreneur selling TC Banana plantlets outside his agro-vet shop in Nyeri County to enhance access to quality planting materials.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (FAO 2008). Africa Harvest’s experience is that the issue of Food Security and Sustainable Livelihoods is central to all development intervention.

Food security on the continent has worsened since 1970 and the proportion of the malnourished population has remained within the 33–35% range in Sub-Saharan Africa (Mwaniki 2006). Food security in the region has also been exacerbated by the impact of the high prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS in the farming communities. The impact of HIV and AIDS in the communities is two-dimensional; firstly, it has decreased the work force and secondly, it has increased the demand for sufficient and nutritious food. More than two thirds of the total population of the 25 most affected countries resides in rural areas, affecting agricultural production as well as farm and domestic labour supplies (Mwaniki 2006).

While working with the communities, Africa Harvest has observed the important role of women in agriculture, and the need to structure projects in a way that is convenient and conducive for them. Agricultural productivity has been said to increase by as much as 20% when women are given the same inputs as men. If women are to be fully effective in contributing to food and nutrition security, discrimination against them must be eliminated and the value of their role promoted (Mwaniki 2006).

During the year under review, various projects were implemented with the aim of improving nutrition in target households and increasing productivity so that farmers can improve their income by selling the excess harvest.

This goal was met through the following projects:

Sorghum for Multiple Uses (SMU) value chain in Kenya and Tanzania

This project focuses on the development of a robust, commercially viable and sustainable Sorghum for Multiple Uses (SMU) value chain in Kenya and Tanzania. It targets successful sorghum farmers and seeks to move them from subsistence to commercial farming. The project’s goal is to unlock value chain opportunities and potential of using sorghum as food, feed and income generation. This enables target farmers to achieve food security and reduce poverty. The project is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The International Crops Research Institute for Semi- Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is the lead implementing agency, in collaboration with Africa Harvest, public and private partners from the target countries. The project is designed to exploit synergies of the participating institutions. In Kenya, the institutions include the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Western Seed Company (WSC), the East Africa Malting (EAML), South Eastern University College (SEUCO) and Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) extension staff. In Tanzania, the institutions include Department of Research and Development (DRD) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives (MAFC) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). Other institutions are Namburi Agricultural Company Seed (NACoLtd) that has maintained rights for two sorghum varieties that have specifications for SMU traits and Tanzania Breweries Ltd (TBL).

A sorghum demonstration field established in Tharaka County; Doreen Marangu, AH SMU Project manager discussing sorghum agronomy with project beneficiaries.

The project has successfully met its objectives, which are: to improve the livelihoods of poor rural small- scale farming households in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya and Tanzania, characterize sorghum production systems (within local farming systems), map existing supply chains and identify opportunities for the value chain development. The project is establishing a pilot small, trial-size version of a commercial-scale value chain in each country and actively linking the sorghum farmers to the market outlet for surplus grain. The capacity of sorghum value chain stakeholders is being strengthened to help increase production and marketing of SMU for consumption and malting industry. The project is also designed to improve multiple use sorghum cultivars (varieties and hybrids) that are resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses, adaptable to and have stable performance in the target environments and meet end user/market requirements. Partnerships have been developed with private seed companies to provide quality seed of SMU varieties to the participating households.

The project targets resource-constrained smallholder farmers in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL), in eight districts in Eastern Province of the Republic of Kenya and in eight districts of Northern and Central Tanzania. The first phase of the project runs from January 2011 to August 2012. Phase II started in July 2012 and will run until June 2015. By December 2012, progress was registered in a number of areas. Staff had been recruited for eight project districts and over 15,000 farmers (nearly 20% of the total target of 80,000) had been mobilized and organized into groups. Over 70% of the mobilized farmers adopted SMU varieties. All the farmers were trained on sorghum production and at least one agronomic training demonstration site was established in every project district.

Sorghum yields increased to an average of 810 kg (nine bags) per acre for those using the recommended agronomic practices without fertilizer and 1,350 kg (15 bags) per acre for those that used fertilizer. Profitability of sorghum cultivation also improved due to increase in produce prices. The increased incomes from sorghum sales changed the living standards of the farmers who were able to pay for their children’s education, goods and services using sorghum proceeds.

Training manuals for trainers in sorghum agronomy and brochures for training farmers on sorghum field, pest and disease management, and harvest and post- harvest handling were developed. Africa Harvest entered into negotiations with seed companies to distribute seed after establishment of demand in the project areas. Partners such as seed companies, MFIs, agro-dealers, aggregators, buyers and insurance providers were identified. Entrepreneurs were linked with thresher importers and fabricators. With the increase in production, entrepreneurs have ventured into service provision, for example, there is a thresher in six of the eight project districts.

Food security and livelihoods through an improved sorghum value chain in Kenya

This project is funded by the AusAID office in Nairobi as part of the Australia Africa Community Grants Scheme (AACGS). It is designed to run for three years, ending May 2013. The project’s goal is to improve food and nutritional security, economic empowerment and sustainable livelihoods among target beneficiaries, a majority of whom are women.

It targets 1,000 small scale rural farmers in Waita and Kiomo divisions of Mwingi Central District within Kitui County in the former Eastern Province of Kenya. The project sites are within the ASALs of Kenya where food security is a major challenge, primarily due to unreliable and low rainfall that lead to massive crop failure, season after season.

Activities included promotion of Gadam Sorghum, an improved variety that is heat and drought tolerant. This was intended to dampen the effects of low rainfall on household food security while helping target beneficiaries build resilience and coping mechanisms. Beneficiaries were also linked to markets to sell surplus grain as a strategy of fighting poverty and generating income to buy other household needs. The markets included World Food Program (WFP),East African Maltings Limited (EAML), millers and animal feeds manufacturers

Africa Harvest teaches farmers the importance of good agronomic practices for sorghum

Implementation was based on the Whole value chain strategy, which seeks to identify and unblock barriers and bottlenecks in ensure increase production and productivity responds to market demand pull.

The project benefited 1,000 households. Some 4,000 kg of quality, certified Gadam Sorghum seeds were procured, distributed and planted. Each farmer received 4 kg of seeds, enough to establish an acre of the crop. Based on an estimate of 6–10 persons per household, it is estimated that between 6,000 and 10,000 people may have benefited within the first year of the project’s implementation.

The farmers’ capacity to increase productivity per unit area was enhanced through skills and knowledge transfer, especially with regard to good agronomic practices. This training was carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and the District Agriculture Office in Mwingi Central.

Food Security and Ecosystem Management for Sustainable Livelihoods (FOSEMS)

The year 2012 marked the third year of implementation of the Food Security and Ecosystem Livelihoods (FOSEMS) in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya project. The project is funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The grant was made possible by funding from the Italian government, administered through the Italian Development Cooperation (part of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), to IFAD, as a response to the global food crisis of 2008.

Africa Harvest has been implementing the project in three districts in the former Eastern Province of Kenya, which has total population of 5,668,123 people and has one of the highest poverty levels. Over 2.6 million of the province’s inhabitants, or 46% are classified as poor, or living below US$1 per day ( survey/poverty/pdf/kenyapovAtlas, 2005 statistics).

The province regularly receives emergency food assistance and supplementary feeding for the aged and under-fives is more the norm than the exception. This cycle of poverty is compounded by food insecurity due to recurrent drought, poor rains, and environmental degradation.

The project therefore contributed significantly to poverty alleviation and food security through im- proved food production, improved land and water management interventions, increased productivity and adoption of adaptive mechanisms to drought and climate change. During the year under review, the following objectives were achieved:

  • A baseline survey mapped the status of horti- cultural and high-value traditional food crops, short cycle livestock, soil and water management technologies.
  • Farmers were helped to adopt and produce fast- maturing horticultural and traditional food crops.
  • Soil fertility was improved and agricultural productivity increased by teaching farmers to harness livestock manure.
  • Farmers were taught to harvest water, conserve and manage it.
  • The project promoted the adoption and the rapid improvement of short cycle livestock.

The baseline survey conducted during the first year of implementation showed that about 80% of the households were food insecure between July and December each year. Only 50% of the households grew drought-tolerant crops suitable for this arid region, a practice that perpetuated the cycle of food insecurity and poverty. Where suitable crops like sorghum were grown, poor agronomic practices resulted in low yields of about 400 kg per acre compared with an optimal yield of about two metric tons per acre.

A total of 3,912 kg of sorghum seed – Gadam and Seredo varieties – were distributed to the target communities before the onset of the October 2012 rains. A total of 1,304 acres of sorghum was therefore, established in the project areas and considering an average yield of 0.6 ton/acre, the total harvest to be realized is expected to be 782 MT of sorghum grain valued at Ksh 21,124,800 (approximately US$258,000) at Ksh 27 per kg. In total, 13,111 persons – 1,873 households with a mean of seven members each – are benefited from the adoption of sorghum production in the project target area.

Dual purpose cowpea adopted

The project increased the diversity of staple crops being promoted in the project sites. Cowpea was the second crop aggressively promoted for adoption. It has multiple uses: the leaves are a popular vegetable, the grains are a rich source of protein and being a legume, it fixes atmospheric Nitrogen, and therefore improves soil fertility. Cowpea is drought tolerant and fast growing. Farmers can harvest the crop within 80–90 days of planting. The mature cowpea leaves are dried and form an important ingredient in chicken food, thus providing beta carotenes for the chicken. After harvesting, the crop residue is used to feed goats, which in turn provide milk for domestic consumption. Income generated from the sale of surplus cowpea was used to acquire household assets, pay for school fees and strengthen group-lending.

Between July and December 2012, a total of 4,096 kg of cowpea seed was distributed to the target communities. Data collected on cowpeas harvest from the March to June 2012 season shows that a total of 195,206 kg were harvested in the three regions. Out of this, 16,020 kg was sold at an average price of Ksh 80 per kg, fetching Ksh 1,281,600 (about USD 15,440). (This is a significant amount, given that it is supplementary income that did not exist before). As was the case in sorghum, much of the harvest (92%) was retained in the homes to be used as food for the family.

Adoption of traditional food and horticultural crop

Through the adoption of traditional food and horticultural crops, the project broadened the range of food crops available at the household level; the surplus was sold, making it possible within the households to meet their other needs. Surplus sorghum led to individual household’s resourcefulness; for example, making poultry feed and using crop residues as livestock feed instead of grazing in communal grounds concentrated manure in the homestead which could then be used in crop production.

Short-cycle livestock

The baseline study for the general population in the project area revealed that goats are the most common livestock kept by 51% of the respondents, while 96% of the households kept chicken, most of which are indigenous breeds. A more in-depth study of the groups participating in the project revealed that chicken are the most important type of poultry in the area.

Mrs Miriam Nduku Mumo of Kikumini location, Wote Division, Makueni County showing her flock of improved Kenbro Chicken during a visit by FOSEMS Project donors.
Mrs Miriam Nduku Mumo collecting eggs (for improved household nutrition and incomes) from her improved Kenbro Chicken in Kikumini Location, Wote Division, Makueni County.

The major constraints in goat and chicken rearing are scarcity of feed and water, and the prevalence of pests and diseases. Poor housing was also cited as a constraint which, if improved, would reduce loss of chicken to predators and thieves.

To address the challenges facing the poultry farmers, Africa Harvest introduced a new breed, Kenbro chicks, to the participating groups. Compared to the indigenous breeds, Kenbro is hardy, grows faster and requires less input. It is a dual-purpose breed (for meat as well as egg production), which can be raised on a free range basis and be ready for consumption in 10–14 weeks. It produces eggs within 25–27 weeks. This red-feathered bird has a higher egg production rate than the indigenous breeds, estimated at 100 eggs in a year as compared with 50 eggs estimate from indigenous breeds.

By December 2012, a total of 4,237 one-day-old Kenbro chicks were distributed to a total of 2,459 households. With an average family size of seven, the total beneficiaries were 17,213 persons. The mean monthly egg production per Kenbro chicken, as recorded by the farmers, stood at 25–30 eggs. Considering that each participating farmer received two chickens, the egg production increased by 50–60 eggs per month. A follow up on the use of these eggs showed that between 25 and 30% were consumed at home, while about 50% of them were sold. The remaining eggs were incubated by indigenous chicken breeds for production of chicks and increase of household stocks.

The price of Kenbro eggs is relatively high, selling at Ksh30 as opposed to Ksh 10 per egg for indigenous breeds. Thus, the outcome of this intervention included increased income from sale of eggs and improved nutrition from consumption of the same.

Project beneficiaries generated an average of Ksh 295,590 (USD 3,561) on a monthly basis from the sale of eggs alone or an annual income of Ksh 3,547,080 (USD 42,735.90), which represented a return on investment (ROI) of over 800% from the sale of eggs alone.

In addition to acquiring chicken, beneficiaries received a cock that was mated to indigenous hens to upgrade their production. The chicken droppings were also put to use, to establish compost as well as vegetable gardens near the homes.

A total of 90 Toggenburg goats, consisting of 45 does and 45 bucks, were distributed to a total of 45 groups which are made up of 1,574 households. The membership of the 45 groups is 1,101 women and 473 men. With an average family size of seven, the total number of beneficiaries, as at the end of 2012, stood at 11,018 persons.

Goats belonging to Kalomo Self Help Group provided by the FOSEMS Project; upgrading of local goats and improved milk production contributing to household nutrition and livelihood support.
Introduction of improved Toggenburg goats through the FOSEMS project contributed to increased household assets and enhanced livelihoods in the project areas.

Out of the total 45 does, 27 kidded, giving an additional 27 (83% cross-bred) goats. Out of the 27 kids, 16 were male and 11 were female. Milk production from the lactating does was high with the groups, recording milk yield of 0.6 to 1 L per day. The milk was consumed at home, thus contributing to improved household nutrition, especially for children, the elderly and those infected with HIV and AIDs.

The bucks were used to upgrade indigenous goats. During the year under review, 945 local goats were served by the Toggenburg bucks. Ownership of the local goats served show that 52% were owned by women while the other 48% were owned by men. 68% of the local goats served belong to direct project beneficiaries, while 32% belong to indirect project beneficiaries. The groups generated some income by charging a fee, which ranged from Ksh 50 to Ksh 100 shillings, for every local goat served. During the period under review, the number of hybrid kids (from local does) stood at 379.

Some 20 Community-Based Animal Health Workers (CBAHW), who are members of groups that are receiving project services, were trained as Trainers of Trainers (TOTs). This brought the total of TOTs trained since project inception to 83 and is a strategy to decentralize extension services, making them more accessible and affordable. The main facilitator during the training was an animal health specialist from the University of Nairobi. These TOTs were equipped with relevant knowledge and skills in chicken and goat management and improvement. They were also trained in marketing skills to assist in identifying and linking farmers to markets. In addition, the trainees were also trained on issues of gender and HIV and AIDs as cross cutting issues that impact the ability of beneficiaries to not only derive value from project interventions but to also disseminate the benefits to others.

As shown by the baseline data, the community established housing facilities for the livestock, a practice that was previously not embraced. The use of improved livestock housing is likely to reduce livestock attack by pests and diseases, and improve general livestock health. Also, housing livestock in the kitchen and main house as reported by 7% of the respondents in the baseline study could have resulted in poor human health, especially due to ammonia and other gases in the animal urine and faeces. Thus, use of improved livestock housing is likely to have a positive effect on the health of participating farmers.

Project partnerships

The project team continued to build partnerships with government line ministries, NGOs and other stakeholders involved in promoting similar or complementary activities. The partnerships were based on the principle that increasing outreach as well as impact requires leveraging available resources (human or otherwise) through synergies that exist in the project areas. To this end, the project team signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the following partners:

i. World Agro-forestry Research Centre
ii. District Livestock production officers (Ministry of Livestock development) in Kitui, Nzaui and Makueni
iii. Divisional Agriculture Extension officers (Ministry of Agriculture) in Mulala, Wote and Kitui Central.
iv. Divisional Water Officers (Ministry of Water and Irrigation) in Mulala and Wote Divisions.
v. Provincial Administration (Chiefs, Assistant Chiefs)
vi. FAULU Kenya – a micro finance institution (Emali office)
vii. The Community Development Fund (CDF) in Makueni Constituency

Commercialization and regional trade in sorghum in Tanzania and Kenya

Africa Harvest promoted commercialization and regional trade in sorghum by facilitating market- based linkages among value chain partners to increase productivity and surplus for markets in Tanzania and Kenya. The Project was funded by the UNDP – Africa Facility for Inclusive Markets (AFIM) Catalytic Fund for Regional Agri-business Value Chain Development.

The project team created awareness among identified key stakeholders and sensitized administrative authorities on the goal and objectives, thereby enhancing ownership at the grass-roots level and laying the foundation for long-term sustainability of the project. Awareness was to be created in six forums, but the number reached was 13. These forums registered an increase in demand for sorghum seed. Prior to the awareness creation, farmers were not willing to embrace sorghum production at commercial level, but after the campaigns, seed demand outstripped supply. For example, awareness creation activities undertaken in Makueni County, Kenya, resulted in farmers requesting for an additional 2,600 kg on top of the initial 4,200 kg supplied to them through Mwailu Enterprises Limited (the Aggregator). Some 57.5% of the target beneficiaries allocated a minimum of 1 ha (2.5 acres) for sorghum production, resulting in the target of 500 farmers for the first season being achieved.

Farmers in Kenya were supplied with 7,600 kg of certified and improved Gadam Sorghum seed. Over 2,000 acres (800 ha) of sorghum crop was established in Kenya during the October to December 2012 production season.

In Tanzania, the target was 500 farmers, but that was exceeded with 1,000 farmers, each planting 1 ha (3 acres), in Serengeti District of Mara region. They were provided with 2,000 kg of certified Maccia Sorghum seeds by Dunia Trust Limited.

Given that sorghum seed delivery systems were yet to be established in the target regions, Africa Harvest had to purchase the seeds and also facilitate the distribution from KARI (Machakos) to drop-off points that were easily accessible to the project beneficiaries. Mwailu Enterprises Limited, the Aggregator in charge of Makueni County, was instrumental in ensuring that the seeds reached individual farmers, through a cost-sharing arrangement with Africa Harvest.

The AH project team during a visit to sorghum fields in Kibaigwa area of Dodoma district, on the areas in Tanzania where the sorghum for regional trade project was implemented.
TC Banana farmers in Nyeri County during training on good orchard management by a staff member from the Ministry of Agriculture.

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USAID-KHCP Tissue Culture (TC) Banana

During the year under review, Africa Harvest maintained its reputation among farmers in Kenya as a leader in the deployment of appropriate agricultural technologies along the Whole Value Chain. The TC Banana projects directly benefited over 1.5 million people, and were implemented successfully in Eastern and Central regions of Kenya. It is this success that led the USAID and the KHCP decide to expand the project to Kisii County in the Western region of Kenya.

Africa Harvest also implemented the “Production and Marketing of Tissue Culture Bananas in Nyeri County” project. It started in April 2011, and was supposed to run for 36 months, but due to a shift in USAID policy, the project had to shift to the Kenya Feed the Future target areas, which include the Rift Valley, Eastern, Coast, Western and Nyanza counties. The project therefore wound down in December 2012, 21 months earlier than had been specified.

By the time the project ended, a total of 2,415 farmers in 106 groups had been mobilized and trained in group formation and management, and orchard establishment and management. To create awareness of the project, Africa Harvest used open forum and chiefs’ public meetings. Training was conducted at the group level. This happened during the Ministry of Agriculture shows and at the 15 farmer field days held on different dates all over the County. To showcase the benefits of TC Banana, five commercial (80–100 plantlets) and 45 demonstrations sites (15 –25 plantlets) were established. The demonstrations were hosted by farmers.

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