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GOALAN Project Organises a 3-Day Train the Trainers Programme for Women and Youth Entrepreneurs in Kenya

Can ‘imperfect’ fruits and vegetables be recycled and given new life? Also, can the ‘agents of change’, help pass on the information about sustainable methods of farming? In the training programme organised by the Switch Africa Green ‘GOALAN’ project in Njambini, Kenya, over 40 women and youth entrepreneurs learned through practical demonstrations how they can apply sustainable horticulture practices and add value to their produce of potatoes and Brassicas.

The micro-, small- and medium-sized horticultural enterprises (MSMEs) around the Lake Naivasha Basin in Kenya face a range of challenges from a dry climate to limited water resources. The unsustainable horticultural practices such as the overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilisers further pollute the water and soil in the area, creating the vicious cycle of chemical overuse.

Almost half the employees in agriculture and its sub-sector horticulture are women. Even still, women face more restrictions than men in accessing productive resources such as land and finance. At the same time, Africa’s population is growing with billion population under the age of 25 [2]. A majority of the African youth are unemployed and according to the World Bank, by 2035 around 350 million new jobs will be required to balance the booming population. The youth do not view agriculture as a favourable opportunity for livelihood, even though the sector has great potential to create jobs. The objective of GOALAN project is to support the women and youth overcome these challenges in the Kenyan horticulture sector.

The project introduces sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices to MSMEs and farmers, allowing them to comply with the new Kenyan Standard (KS) 1758 for horticultural produce. This government standard, under the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), covers issues of food safety, environmental sustainability, and social accountability and is key to farmers as it allows greater market access.

Strengthening the supply chain

The GOALAN project also works with bulk buyers, such as big hotels around Lake Naivasha, to create the awareness of SCP and the importance of buying sustainable fruits and vegetables. The produce is healthier and nutritious, and buying locally supports the economy and local communities. As stipulated in Kenya’s national Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP), this enables them to also support and build a better relationship with the local (county) governments.

The push and pull strategy of the GOALAN project resulted in the signing of contracts between several high-end hotels and MSME groups around the Lake Naivasha Basin. Through contract farming, MSMEs are guaranteed that their sustainable produce will find a market which offers them a better price and buyers are assured a stable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.

After the initial success of cultivating sustainable fruits and vegetables, the project is now working with public procurers (governmental institutions, schools, prisons) to identify ways the MSMEs can supply their produce to these institutions. With the support from the county governments of Nakuru, Narok and Nyandarua, the GOALAN project hopes new contracts with public procurers can soon be facilitated.

Field demonstration on sustainable potato production

Value addition          

Around 200 target MSMEs expressed their interest in the capacity-building training in harvesting and post-harvest handling techniques so they can add value to their horticultural produce. Through proper harvesting and post-harvest techniques, MSMEs can reduce the loss of harvest, ensuring good quality produce reach the markets and consumers.

The GOALAN project facilitated the train the trainer programme (ToT) to develop new products from the horticultural produce. This helps diversify the MSMEs’ products as they often cannot sell all their fruits and vegetables and have to discard them or use them as cattle feed. Creating new products adds value and gives the not-so-perfect fruits or vegetables new life. The GOALAN project promotes sustainable food systems where food is not wasted but instead ‘recycled’ to preserve its nutritious values.

Women and youth empowerment

Through the (ToT) programme for youths and women, the GOALAN project creates a pool of ‘change agents’ who will further share their knowledge on sustainable horticultural practices (SCP) with other farmers and entrepreneurs in their villages. During the 3-day programme, the youth and women were introduced to Irish potato and Brassicas production (Cabbages, Spinach, Kale, Broccoli and Lettuce) and also learned how to add value to their produce. Through practical field demonstrations, they were also shown how to prepare the land for planting and received information on marketing as well. They were also taught about potato storage structures, seed production and the safe and effective use of pesticides. Most importantly, the group also received guidance regarding access to finance.

For more information on the GOALAN project, please contact Kartika Anggraeni.

[1] The role of women in agriculture Prepared by the SOFA Team and Cheryl Doss

[2] The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations: The future of Africa’s Agriculture rests with the youth