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enterprising solutions: enabling african smallholder farmers to engage in agricultural value chains

ASFG member Self Help Africa recently hosted a seminar in Nairobi drawing on the rich experiences of innovative enterprise development work in Kenya. This was an interactive discussion on civil society-public-private sector partnership approaches for smallholder enterprise development.  It drew on contributions from several other ASFG members.

The first panel focused on the role of civil society organisations in brokering partnerships and facilitating market access.  Experiences were shared from  the South Sudan Local Cassava Initiative – a partnership between FARM-Africa & SAB Miller; Practical Action’s approach to inclusive market development; AGRA’s programme on Strengthening Farmer Organisations for Greater Market Access  (FOSCA); and analysis of the different roles of ‘Innovation Intermediaries’ based on research from smallholder agricultural systems in Kenya.

The second session of presentations and discussions was on business approaches to providing value chain services to rural communities. This included an explanation of  the franchising model of Sidai  -- a new social enterprise to bring quality animal husbandry and health services to farmers and pastoralists in Kenya; using ICTs to support enterprise development; experiences from Kenya’s Federation of Agricultural Producers (KENFAP); and Partner Africa - Self Help Africa’s new ethical trade social enterprise.

The discussion covered roles and responsibilities illustrated by the innovative examples of responding to development challenges through market-based approaches. The key role that CSOs can play was emphasised: from expanding horizons through facilitating access to knowledge and interaction of market actors; to building capacity and strengthening organisations  to disseminating and scaling up success.  Or as described by one participant, Interaction for Transformation, Empowerment for Engagement and Communication for Uptake. 

MaFI (Market access Facilitation Initiative) was recognised as a valuable global network for practitioners to link into and the establishment of local learning groups encouraged.

The full report from the seminar can be found here.

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