At 80 per cent, small scale farmers with fewer than two acres of land, make up the clear majority of Westerns Kenya’s farming community. To efficiently provide training and other support services, organizing these famers into cooperatives, and organizing new ones, is one of the AMPATH, Corteva partnership’s core activities.
Each of the cooperatives we visited has interesting stories to tell. One thing that really inspired me during my discussions with the leaders of Quannambile farmer’s cooperative, one of the thriving cooperatives in Western Kenya, was how they strengthen the community. This cooperative was formed at the height of ethnic tension in Kenya, following the election dispute in 2007/08. Knowing that their members were from two rival ethnic groups, the leaders chose to set aside their ethnic and political differences and urged all their members to unite and stand for peace. This saved many lives and helped them to heal as community. I learned that the cooperatives are not only venues for learning and doing business, but also where the farmers socialize, encourage one another, and build a sense of community.
Cooperatives also play a huge role in strengthening local farming and presenting new business opportunities. To give you an example, we are currently discussing a business opportunity to establish agricultural input retails stores, also known as agrovets, with several of these cooperatives. Establishing agrovets will generate the much-needed revenue, providing funds for additional projects, and creating job opportunities for the youth within their communities. Agrovets will also provide purchasing benefits to cooperatives, such as discounts for buying in bulk and eliminating transportation costs with door to door delivery.
Most of the cooperatives we have talked with have expressed strong interest in establishing agrovets. Several will soon begin applying for their licenses, with others planning to do so in the coming few years. For our part, we have been working with all authorities to ensure that the most recent and accurate information is provided to cooperatives to secure their permits and raise the initial running capital. The Corteva team in Kenya has also sponsored interested cooperatives, which is needed to secure agrovet permits. The team has also agreed to provide discounts on some products to ensure the profitability of these agrovets when they open their doors for business.
These cooperatives enable AMPATH and Corteva team to provide training on best agronomic practices, improving crop, livestock, and poultry production, to achieve the goal of food security in the region. We will continue to form new cooperatives and look for opportunities to strengthen existing, so that they will become sustainable continue to serve their members and communities.