For several years Farm Concern International has carried out various value chain analysis, implemented various programmes and worked closely with smallholder farmers and buyers that deal with Sweet Potato. The Sweet Potato is known as the world’s most versatile and under-exploited food crop produced mostly by smallholder households in over 100
developing countries and ranked 5th on fresh-weight basis after rice, wheat, maize and cassava (FAOSTAT 1998). Farm Concern International is working with smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda with a keen focus on commercialization of the Sweet Potato. Currently 95.6 million tons produced annually by ten most leading producing countries (FAOSTAT 2012) with Uganda and Tanzania ranked second and fifth globally with a production of 2.8 metric tons and 1.4 metric tons. The Seed-Farmer- Markets-Consumer (SeFaMaCo) Model and program developed and implemented by FCI through the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has  the aim of ensuring that there is synergy from the farm to the markets and ultimately to the end consumer. 

A landscape analysis conducted recently by FCI found out that the farm gate value for sweet potatoes currently in Uganda is estimated at USD 0.19 Billion (20%) with a potential value of USD 0.92 Billion and a commercial loss of USD 0.73 Billion while Tanzania currently records a farm gate value of USD 0.15 Billion (15%) with a potential of USD1.0 Billion and recording a commercial farm gate value loss of USD 0.85 Billion. Ethiopia on the other hand records USD 0.03 Billion (27%) as farm gate value with a potential of USD 0.11 Billion and an annual commercial loss of USD 0.08 Billion. These were derived after carrying out a cost benefit analysis conducted with smallholder farmers which estimated the farm gate value per metric ton as follows; USD 68 in Uganda, USD 62.5 in Tanzania and USD 79 in Ethiopia. Strategic investment in commercialization through the Commercial Zones and Commercial Village Models will create mechanisms for effective supply chains management by all actors along the sweet potatoes value chain.

For example by investing in the Sweet Potato value chain in Uganda through seed enterprises (informal, local and formal systems) and by the commercialization of production systems through the Commercial Village Model as well as market based interventions which are aimed at realigning the value chain performance this will have a direct impact on the current production currently estimated at 17,032,800 MT. This will ultimately feed more people in Uganda and the neighboring countries thereby increasing its production thereby inching closer to the world leader (China) that produces.81,175,660 MT (FAOSTAT, 2012). 

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Juma Fondo, a father of 10 children and married to one wife, was a well-known perennial maize and cowpeas subsistent farmer in his 1.5 acres farm.

Before the introduction Pwani Commercial Villages for Markets Programmme supported by Tearfund and implemented by FCI, Fondo despite lacking knowledge on good agronomic practices for these crops and the poor yields, he could still work hard in his farm to earn him little money to sustain his daily domestic needs.

He had spared half acre portion for cowpeas and planted M66 cowpeas variety which gave him an average yield of 150kgs every season and the rest of the remaining portion of farm was grown with maize.

Training on commercialization and good agronomical practices under the programme has resulted in a positive transformation of Fondo’s life. He laments how he wasted his time and resources on traditional farming methods which barely earned him little to provide food for his family.

With the continued training on commercialization, adoption of good agronomic practices and market linakges, he confirmed to have gained enough knowledge and adopted the new variety of cowpeas (K80).

In April 2016, during the first planting season, he decided to plant cowpeas on half acre of his farm and considered every aspect of good agronomic practices including right spacing, pest and diseases control among others. He managed to harvest 230kgs of cowpeas for the first season and sold at Kshs. 100 per Kg earning him Kshs. 23,000 (USD 230) despite the insufficient rains experienced in the County. This was a significant improvement from his previous yield of 150 Kgs from the same piece of land. He bought 4 goats worth Kshs. 12,000; used Kshs. 8,000 to take his son to driving college and the rest was used to pay school fees for his children who were in primary school.

Mr.Fondo decided to expand his cowpeas farming to 1 acre during the second season which begun in the month of September, 2016 and harvested 506 Kgs of cowpeas; he spared 150 Kgs for family consumption and sold 356 Kgs earning him Kshs. 56,120. He invested Kshs. 6,000 on small enterprise of buying and selling fuel to motor bike riders at the village, bought 4 indigenous chicken worth Kshs1, 800 and the rest was used to pay school fees and purchasing food items for his family. As a result of the motivation from the sales, Juma has expand his farm to the current 1.5 acres.

“The project has helped me a lot. The four goats I bought previously have multiplied to nine. Recently, I sold 2 of them at Kshs. 4,000 each to pay my wife’s hospital bill when she delivered at a private hospital. I have wasted a lot of years, time and resources doing subsistence farming, but now I can make Kshs. 56,120 from Cowpeas in an acre, I will allocate more acres of land for cowpeas in the coming seasons,” says Fondo.

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Mr. Leonardo Kioko a trader and chairman of Majengo indigenous poultry traders in Majengo market, the second largest market in Mombasa County does not hesitate to narrate how slowly but steadily he has risen above the odds and challenges as an indigenous poultry trader.

Prior to being specifically a poultry trader, Kioko was an indigenous poultry farmer all his life. Kioko sources indigenous poultry from Magharini, Ganze, Kilifi North, Kilifi South and majorly from South coast (Kwale, Shimba hills,Lamu, Diani and Ukunda).

Before the inception of Pwani Commercial Villages for Markets Programmme supported by Tearfund and implemented by FCI, Kioko had challenges getting constant supply of the right quality and quantity of indigenous poultry from his common sourcing areas of Ukambani, Lamu, Shimba Hills,Lamu. Indigenous poultry from Magarini and Ganze only accounted for 10% of his stock

Since the inception of the programme in 2016, Farm Concern International in partnership with ADS Pwani and A rocha Kenya have been linking Kioko to farmers in Ganze and Magarini who as a result of capacity building campaigns have been producing quality indigenous poultry which are highly competitive. FCI has linked Kioko to thirteen (13) commercial producer groups in eight aggregation centers in Ganze and Magharini sub-counties who are practicing collective bulking and marketing.

Currently, Kioko purchases at an average of Ksh400 (USD 4) per bird from farmers and sells at an average of Ksh500 (USD 5) at the market making a Ksh100 (USD 1) per bird.

Mr Kioko has continued to make repeat business for indigenous poultry across the two years and has constantly grown his monthly units from 200 to the current 600 with 50% being sourced from Ganze and Magarini Sub-Counties earning him Kshs. 30,000 (USD 300) per month.

“I am very grateful for the linkages FCI has facilitated through the bulking centres which has also enabled me reduce my cost of doing business,” Says Kioko.

As a result of the established business relationship and market linkages, Kioko has gained a sizable and sustainable income which has enabled him to pay school fees for his siblings, relatives and children, invest in farming cowpeas and green grams in his ½ an acre farm, completed his building project back at his rural village of a permanent house and has currently saved Ksh. 20,000 (USD 200) in microfinance institution and the Majengo poultry association.

Kioko continues to campaign for market-led production to farmers as it enables farmers enjoy income from their farming business, while continuing to invite other traders like him to join the bandwagon of prosperity.

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Festus Katana is a smallholder farmer from Mariani commercial village who rears indigenous poultry. He has been practicing poultry farming for 5 years now, since 2012. However; due to inadequate market information his poultry fetched low prices. Most of his buyers were other villagers who bought chicken at very low prices ranging from Kshs 250 – Kshs 300.Through Farm Concern International (FCI) intervention of conducting village business forums under Pwani Commercial Villages for Markets programme, Mr. Festus was able to sell 15 indigenous chicken worth Kshs 6,000 at an average price of Kshs 400 benefiting from a 33% - 60% price increment. With the proceeds from this sale, Mr. Festus was able to buy food for his family and pay a balance of his child’s school fees.

Mr. Festus is now a beneficiary of capacity building trainings on market-led production, good agronomic practices, business skills and market linkages by Farm Concern International. He is now personally preaching commercialization to his neighbours.

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Smallholder farmers access to inputs is usually faced with myriad challenges especially due to high prices and unavailability. Additionally, the distribution channels are rarely monitored and unreliable leading to exploitation through unreasonable pricing and sometimes unscrupulous traders have a lee way to distribute sub-standard inputs. This in turn affects farmers adversely increasing the cost of production due to massive crop failure. Provision of quality and affordable inputs to farmers can enhance productivity and lower cost of production thereby making them competitive. Access to critical agro services is one of the strategic sustainability pillars promoted by FCI that is geared towards creating spin off enterprises for famers

It is against this back drop that Farm Concern International under the Agri-Market Service Centres Programme funded by Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with other strategic partners organized the inputs trade fair in Chaaria to enable farmers access affordable and certified inputs from accredited agro companies. The input fair was targeting the October-December season majorly in support of alternative value chains prioritized by the programme. The event was conducted on 11th and 12th October 2018 targeting farmers from the centre and its environs. The input fair event was very successful and well attended by farmers and stakeholders. A total of 252 farmers and over 15 agro-input companies attended the two-day event where besides buying various inputs, farmers were trained on farming systems for optimal returns per unit area.

Chaaria Agri-market Service Centre is well established with various infrastructure that include a cooling chamber, mango puree processing machine, office block and toilets. The centre sits on an acre of land with ample space to add more structures and serve as a learning centre. Chaaria Agri-market Service center has prioritized input distribution as one of enterprises where they will be linked to accredited agro companies to act as end distributors of inputs at a margin thereby creating sustainability.

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FCI VISION :Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond.