Small holder farmers feed the present and future people of Kenya's North Rift Region through horticultural exports
USAID’s Kenya Horticultural Competitiveness Program is helping smallholder farmers profit from the Government of Kenya’s investment in a new International Airport in Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley. The horticulture project is partnering with Canken International Limited, a cargo handling Export Company at the Eldoret International Airport. The company is exporting a variety of fruits and vegetables to European and Middle East Countries. Canken executives say the horticulture competitiveness program has had a quantifiable impact on the region. Canken now exports more than 750 tons of fresh produce compared to 226 tons when the company was first established in 2007. This is due to the fact that Canken is now able to source produce from 4000 small holder farmers in the region.
The horticulture project provided the technical assistance Canken International needed to train farmers on land preparation, crop maintenance, harvesting and post harvesting technology. Farmers were also linked with banks and other micro credit institutions whose loans enable them purchase seeds and manure, afford crop maintenance amongst other farming activities.
To enable an all-year production of fresh produce despite the drought spells, the horticulture project trains farmers on irrigation and water harvesting techniques. Seventy-five demonstration plots have been installed with irrigation kits and 30 water harvesting demonstration tanks have been set up. Farmers deliver their produce to nine shaded collection points where Canken staff sort, grade and pack for export twice a week. Charcoal coolers control temperatures in the grading area.
“These interventions have enabled the horticultural industry realize an increase in sales and profits of more than 200 percent. Previously, a farmer earned $48 per month now they earn more than $240. Increased income from horticultural exports from the smallholder farmers has provided a lasting foundation for progress against malnutrition and food security. The farmers are now able to purchase foods and other nutritional products that they couldn’t afford before. They are also able to diversify into producing other commercial crops increasing food security in the region,” explains Dominic Biwot, General Manger, Canken International Limited.
USAID’s Feed the Future initiative addresses the root causes of hunger and poverty. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports countries in developing their agriculture sectors as a catalyst to generate broad-based economic growth and to reduce hunger. $113,162,353 in incremental sales collected at farm-level in 2012 is attributed to Feed the Future implementation in Kenya.