Women groups in Busia County

Linking smallholders to markets: pilot study on developing value chains for conserving local biodiversity and improving diets

Katamakisi Kadumutu, a women group from Okatekok, a village in Teso-South Sub County, Busia County was one of the identified entrepreneurial farmer group for production and marketing of the African Leafy Vegetables (ALVs). The group consists of 24 members (20 women, 4 men).

The economic well being of this group is bound to change after the skills impacted through the pilot project helped them to win a sustainable institutional market. In Busia County, vegetable production has been the norm for many years but what farmers did not put in mind was targeting institutional markets. No school in the locality had a tendering slot for the local vegetables, which were viewed as ‘poor man’s food’, ‘food for the sick’ and lack of exposure to the nutritional value of vegetables. On the other hand, there was high price fluctuations throughout the year, a challenge that members of Katamakisi Kadumutu women group were accustomed to prior to the project.

It was not until Center for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) came in with the market linkages project that new hope dawned to the farmers. Through the project, CABE used a Farmer Business School (FBS) Model to build the capacity of farmers in developing the ALV value chain and establish linkages to markets.

The newly formed marketing committee of the group was tasked with surveying potential institutional markets, as part of the FBS activities. In the process, the committee approached St. Michael Kaliwa Secondary School where it expressed its interest to sell ALVs to the school. After an explicit introduction and description of their enterprise, the Principal was impressed and told us to leave our contacts at the visitors’ book at the reception and promised that we will be called once the tenders are open. “When we left the office, we were not sure if it was going to happen since we Africans are poor with promises,’’ commented Sylvester Okwara, one of the marketing committee members.

Later, the school called the group requesting it to pick the tender form. After filling the form, the group sent a representative to defend their tender. After three days, the school called the group to let them know that they had won the tender of supplying ALVs throughout the year.

The agreement was effected in January 2017 where the farmers will supply the school with 60kgs every week (30kgs each day for two days a week) at a price of Ksh30 per kilogram. This translates into Ksh1, 800 per week and Ksh7, 200 per month. This exciting news was beyond the imagination of the group members, as Janevive, the group’s secretary pondered, “At first we were skeptical about the entire idea, and we didn’t know that our dream of having a sure market will be true, we really thank CABE, Kenya Agricultural and Research Livestock Organization (KARLO) and Biodiversity International for bringing this project to the village. This is just the beginning, we have hopes of winning supply tenders for ALVs in two more schools.”

The members appreciated the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition (BFN) Market Linkages Project for the guidance and training it offered to empower the farmers and promised to sustain the market linkages. The farmers promised to keep records of their business and were also confident that they were now able to make plans and budget with their business. They also promised to win other markets now that they had understood the entire process.

The BFN Market Linkages Project works with identified entrepreneurial farmer groups’ with an overall aim of promoting local nutritious crops and linking farmers to markets by developing markets for identified nutrient rich indigenous species. It also builds their capacity in the sustainable production of nutrient-rich crops and strengthen their capacity to respond to market demands for these crops.

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