Training small-scale women farmers in Kenya: escaping poverty within four years

In Kenya, 70 per cent of the population make their living from agriculture, cultivating the commonly barren soils of the country. Most of them are small-scale farming families with two to three hectares of land. Almost 30 per cent of the population are still suffering from undernutrition.
In 1993, with the aim of improving food security in rural areas, Kenyan agronomist Ngugi Mutura founded the NGO Sustainable Agriculture Development Program (SACDEP) and established a training programme for small-scale women farmers. It combines organic farming, the breeding of locally adapted seeds and water management with small animal husbandry and the use of renewable energy, as well as self-managed microcredit systems.

The point of departure is always a comprehensive analysis which focuses on which resources are available in the different local communities of small-scale farmers and how these could best be used and increased without high investment costs. Self-help groups of 30 to 40 people, 80 per cent of whom are women, receive four years of training on organic farming. The training, taking place in their own fields, covers techniques such as composting and the production of natural plant protection. To get started, each group receives a water tank. They are taught how to rebuild such a tank and how to finance this through saving and lending groups. The groups also receive milk goats. Together the women decide who will first get a goat. The offspring is then passed on to the next group members.“Open field days” encourage a regular knowledge transfer between the women farmers. Successful farmers open their farms for visitors and share their experience. As a part of the SACDEP training programme, so-called “resource persons” are defined as contact persons who are available in the field if there are any questions regarding cultivation. In the meantime, the Kenyan government has recognised the field days and the training of these extension workers as a successful approach to the dissemination of knowledge.

Since 1993, SACDEP has reached 60,000 families in four regions of the country. Today, thanks to their diversified farms, the farmers are both food secure and independent: The families have sufficient quantities of their own seeds for up to three sowings per year; enough to survive if recurring droughts destroy a harvest. During the last heavy drought in 2011, the women were able to donate 9 tonnes of food.
Based on 20 years of experience and cooperation, SACDEP has developed a training programme for organic, small-scale farming, which will also be taught at the first college for organic farming in East Africa. This college is currently built in Thika, 40 kilometres north of Nairobi, and is intended to serve as a seedbed for the future.

More information (in German) on the projects that are supported by GLS


Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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