Enhancing Food Security through up-scaling of CA practices in Drought Tolerant crop production

Donor: Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB) and Mennonite Central Committee Kenya (MCC Kenya)

Target Areas: Kitui Rural, Kitui South and Kitui Central Sub-Counties.

Target Population: 4,750 Small Scale Farmer Households.

Project Period: March 2016 – September 2020.

Project Goal: Improved food security and sustainable livelihoods for smallholder farming households in Rural, South and Central Sub-counties of Kitui.

Specific Objectives:

  1. 4,750 farmer households practicing CA in drought tolerant crop production as an appropriate technology for fcood security enhancement in Kitui.
  2. 4,750 farmer households have equitable access to productive resources and markets.
  3. Create and strengthen local savings groups for small holder farmers.

Key Outcomes:

  1. 93 % of the target smallholder farmers adopted and practiced at least two of the CA principles.
  2. 50% increase in crop yields per acre across the green grams, pigeon pea, and cow pea drought tolerant crops.
  3. 90% of the households having at least 3 meals a day and food availability until next harvest.


  1. COMPONENT 1: CA Extension Training and Services
    1. Multi-stakeholder multi-sectoral extension Approach: This approach brings on board a multi-disciplinary team of government, SASOL, and private sector extensionists for diversified services and information. This enhances sustainability and networking; key to exit strategy. The private sector get an opportunity to market and link with farmers on inputs, seeds, agrochemicals and produce buyers.
    2. Cluster Approach: Grouping the 5,203 farmers into geographical and demographic clusters with similar social, cultural, climatic and economic characteristics rather than existing administrative units. Each cluster is manned by an agricultural extension officer and a Community organizer.
    3. Lead Farmer Methodology: Lead farmers are champion farmers drawn from early adopters who volunteer to train and follow peer farmers in a sub-cluster. Lead farmers receive a Trainers of Trainers (TOT) training to enable them deliver CA and GAPs messages effectively. They do not receive salaries but reimbursement for talk time. The project benefited from 464 lead farmers each reaching 15-20 peer farmers.
    4. CA Self Help Group Approach: Farmers are organized into food security SHG of 20-30 members with formal and informal status.they are helped draft a constitution, bylaws, goals and objectives, a business plan and a calendar of meetings. The project reached 50 CA and food security self-help groups.

2. COMPONENT 2: Marketing and ICT in Marketing

  1. Strengthening the governance, institutional and market linkage capacity of:
    1. Lower Yatta Farmers Producer and Marketing Cooperative.
    2. Mbitini Farmers Cooperative.
  2. Market Mapping: to identify value chains, key players and weak nodes for strengthening.
  3. Seasonal Calendar: To plot the main agricultural activities and dynamics in the year like labour, rainfall, commodity prices, demand and crop seasonality.
  4. Gross Margin Analysis: The main three enterprises selected in order of profitability are (1). Green grams (2). Pigeon Peas (3). Cow Peas.
  5. Aggregation:
    1. 220 SHG established temporal collection points.
    2. Lower Yatta Cooperative have permanent aggregation centre.
    3. Mbitini Farmers Cooperative.
  6. Market Linkages: 3 major private sector social enterprises were linked with the 2 cooperatives;
    1. FarmShine mobile online platform
    2. Tru Trade
    3. Digifarm

3. COMPONENT 3: Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and Table Banking

  1. 50 out of the 220 Food Security SHGs integrated VSLAs/Table Banking with CA activities.
  2. The groups have operating capital ranging from Ksh 20,000 to Ksh 200,000.
  3. The loans are advanced on a monthly repayment period on 5-10% interest rate depending on the group constitution.
  4. The loans are advanced to meet basic needs requirements only like food, school fees, medical care and purchase of seeds and agricultural inputs.

4. COMPONENT 4: Policy Engagement

SASOl utilized 3 strategies to lobby and advocate for adoption of CA and more resource allocation for CA and agriculture in the county:

  1. Participation and presentation in the County Steering Group (CSG) and County Agricultural Stakeholders Forums.
  2. Involvement of Sub-county and Ward extension officer in extension and capacity building events.
  3. Holding a Results Dissemination forum for government, non state actors and private sector representatives.

5. COMPONENT 5: Staff Capacity Strengthening

CFGB/MCC have been in the forefront in buiding the capacity of partner organizations and relevant government extension officer. Some of the opportunities are:

  1. Conservation Agriculture Technical Experts (CATs): John Mbae, the Kenyan CA Technical Expert supported by Neil Miller, trained on selected topics in CA principles and Good Agronomic Practices like;
    1. Green Manure/Cover Crops (GM/CC).
    2. Soil Testing
    3. CA Mechanization; Ox-drawn and Tractor-drawn.
    4. Post harvest management.
    5. Improved terrace laying techniques.

2. Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting: The ME&R officer Florence Nduku trained on:

  • Use of Kobo Collect, a mobile based data collection tool.
  • Performance Monitoring Framework (PMF).
  • Indicator Tracking Table (ITT).
  • Data Analysis and Reporting.

3. Marketing expert, Loren Hostetter trained on Participatory Marketing Exercises:

  • Gross Margin Analysis.
  • Market Mapping.
  • Market Calendar.
  • Aggregation.

4. Regional and Country level Conferences and Workshops

These platforms brought together the Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia partner organizations’ executive directors, programme managers, field officers and CFGB programme staff.