The three-year Kenya Agro-dealer Strengthening Program (KASP) project, made possible by a grant from the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), strengthened Kenyan agro-dealers by providing training in business management and productive farming methods and increased access to agro-dealers in remote areas, ultimately raising rural incomes and growing household productivity.
CNFA worked to improve the input supply and output marketing distribution channels available to smallholder farmers in rural Kenya by expanding a commercially viable network of rural retail enterprises. KASP built on the foundation of existing agro-dealers in Kenya and expanded the network to cover 85 districts located in targeted agricultural areas across the country. Expansion of this network benefited smallholder farmers by greatly reducing the distance traveled to obtain needed equipment and farm inputs.
- Strengthened the business and technical skills of agro-dealers to better serve the needs of smallholder farmers;
- Improved rural access to finance to jumpstart agro-dealer enterprises in areas where none existed;
- Increased smallholder farmer access to larger markets to distribute their products by working with agro-dealers to develop and deliver basic output marketing training;
- Increased farmer awareness of market opportunities, helping to link them to existing market channels;
- Advanced agricultural policy advocacy by creating a mechanism for sustaining a public-private policy dialogue.
- Agro-dealer Surveys:CNFA carried out agro-dealer surveys in all 85 districts of KASP operation and developed a comprehensive database of 5,156 agro-dealers, representing 52% of the estimated 10,000 agro-dealers in Kenya at the time. The team also developed GIS-based maps showing agro-dealer density and distribution. AGMARK boasts the most comprehensive database of agro-dealers in Kenya and is now used by leading stakeholders in the agricultural inputs industry;
- Business Management and Technical Training:CNFA certified 1,976 agro-dealers through a six-module business management training program that included sessions on managing working capital, managing stocks, costing and pricing, selling and marketing, record keeping, and managing business relationships. CNFA/AGMARK also worked with input suppliers to develop and deliver technical training to agro-dealers in product knowledge, handling and safe use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, and use of improved seed, using demonstration plots and farmer field days to increase awareness and demand for improved inputs. AGMARK-led training is now recognized by leading stakeholders in the inputs industry, including the Ministry of Agriculture, who has required individuals to be trained by AGMARK in order to participate in certain government subsidy programs;
- National Accelerated Agricultural Input Access Program:NAAIAP is a government-sponsored program targeting resource-poor farmers to facilitate access to improved farm inputs with the aim of improving agricultural production of staple foods and promoting the use of quality farm inputs for increased productivity. Since its inception in 2008, KASP was involved in the program by preparing agro-dealers with business and technical skills and financial support to enable the agro-dealers to provide farmers with the correct information and inputs. The subsidy program worked with more than 60 districts (over 95,000 farmers) in the country. Those who benefited from the program received seeds and fertilizers valued at $7.8 million;
- Credit and Financial Services:Credit guarantees are an important instrument in enabling small rural-based and start-up agro-dealers to access the credit necessary to stock their stores. CNFA/AGMARK deliberately chose to partner with wholesalers and microfinance institutions because the more established financial institutions do not target them. A matching investment facility targeted two areas: agro-dealer start-up and grain bulking and aggregation;
- Technical Training:CNFA/AGMARK facilitated agro-dealer training on technical knowledge of inputs by input supply companies, in addition to project training on seeds, agrochemicals, veterinary and fertilizer companies, product knowledge, and safe use, to help teach farmers at the point of sale. Other stakeholders, including the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Agrochemical Association of Kenya (AAK), Pest Control and Produce Board (PCPB), Kenya Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS), National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya National Agro-dealers Association, and various financial institutions, were also involved in the trainings to ensure that the various components of agricultural input handling are exhausted. These interactions provided vital linkages for continued business and education relationships;
- Output Marketing:CNFA strengthened the linkage between input and output distribution channels, and used the rural retailer as a link back to cash markets for their farmer customers. KASP provided agro-dealers with small matching grants to improve storage, install small processing facilities, and invest in transportation, packaging, and handling equipment for farmer outputs;
- Demand Creation:Through demand creation activities, farmers were exposed to different methods of growing crops, the use of hybrid seeds, the use of veterinary products, and the proper handling of fertilizer and other farm products. The seed and fertilizer companies were able to penetrate the market after establishing demonstration plots and holding field days to show farmers, first-hand, the quality that could be produced with improved seed and fertilizer. Over 142,000 smallholder farmers attended KASP-sponsored farm input exhibitions and were exposed to a broad range of productivity-enhancing farm inputs and services;
- Output Marketing:In all of its agro-dealer programs, CNFA strengthens linkages between input and output distribution channels and uses rural retailers as a link back to cash markets for their farmer customers. The agro-dealer serves as a point of market information, trades in outputs as well as inputs, and often engages in primary processing, storage, or handling. To strengthen these initiatives, KASP provided agro-dealers with small matching grants to improve their storage facilities, add small-scale processing capacity, and invest in transportation, packaging, and handling equipment for farmer outputs;
- Association Development:KASP created a sustainable forum for advocacy on behalf of small businesses and agro-dealers throughout target districts and nationwide. CNFA has previously helped launch agro-dealer associations in Kenya and Tanzania and built their capabilities through trainings on organizational management, member services, networking and advocacy, and capacity building. CNFA/AGMARK activities led to the formation of 25 agro-dealer associations, including one national-level association, KENADA.