As part of Agriterra’s Theory of Change our managing director Kees Blokland advocates to revisit the proposition of leaving nobody behind in agriculture which might run emotionally against the humanitarian vision of society that most of us share.
This scheme, embedded in Agriterra’s core work, is simply about selecting viable smallholder farmers that through their farmers’ organisations and cooperatives have decided to take the lead in their development and don’t wait for aid or public support to come and fix their problems. That’s why we emphasise the importance of working with ambitious farmers who are selected through scoping and assessment.
However, Team Kenya has turn it up a notch higher!!!
It involved a Sustainable Services trajectory supported by Agriterra Kenya and KIT (Royal Tropical Institute), with financing from NUFFIC. Team Kenya started by doing a sustainable services workshop with a dairy union called BAMSCOS. During the workshop the 15 participants of BAMSCOS not only gained insights into the importance and structures of extension services, but also adjusted its organisation chart accordingly and developed the basis of what would become their extension services plan, further refined in later trainings and workshops. Later on, extension officers and lead farmers were trained by experts from the Netherlands and Kenya on how to transfer their knowledge to other farmers and how to effectively approach each farmer, as well as clarified the role of lead farmers.
This is were things get interesting! The extension officers from BAMSCOS performed a simple survey to categorise their farmers based on productivity per cow and the interest they show on trainings and technologies, and they came up with 3 categories of farmers: intensive, semi-intensive, and low-intensive. and adjusted the extension interventions accordingly as shown in the following table.
Now BAMSCOS´ extension services are focused on ambitious farmers who, driven by their ambition to better themselves, stand to benefit more from a more intensive support. Unexpectedly, this reorganisation triggered an indirect positive effect. Farmers started to see milk productivity thresholds as aspirational benchmarks and tried harder to achieve them and be better rated and receive personalised extension services. In the end, a mix of improved extension services, more ambitious farmers, and a better resources allocation reduced production costs and increased milk production, driving up farmer´s productivity as you can see in the results chain.