Continue to main site

Helping Kenya’s rural poor gain better access to agricultural markets

Developing the agricultural sector to make it more accessible for poorer people

Since 2011, with our partner, the Kenya Markets Trust, we have been managing the multi-donor Kenya Market Assistance Programme (MAP) funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Netherlands Embassy. With a 6-year programme budget of £23m, MAP is designed to make markets work better for the poor in key agricultural and basic service sectors in rural Kenya.

MAP catalyses innovation in the private sector, facilitating more inclusive business models, realigning the incentives, capacities, relationships and rules governing how markets work and how they shape the participation of the poor, whether as producers, employees or consumers. We are currently active in the dairy and agricultural inputs sectors, rural water services and rural media, and additional interventions are beginning in the seed and livestock sectors.

One of our most successful pilot interventions is in the dairy sector. Lack of adequate, good quality feed keeps milk yields low, bringing annual shortages (the average Kenyan dairy cow produces roughly 6 litres/day compared to more than 40 litres in Denmark). With our implementing partners, Technoserve, we designed a quality feed intervention to increase the provision of affordable high quality hay and fodder to small-scale farmers.  An initial joint venture was established between Nyala and Ndumberi cooperatives reaching an estimated 9,000 farmers. Initial results suggest that milk yields have more than doubled among those farmers purchasing quality assured hay.  Other commercial hay producers have now begun replicating the approach, including Githunguri Dairy, Kenya’s third largest independent milk processor.

We measure the progress of our dairy sector interventions in 3 ways. Firstly, as part of a wider longitudinal impact assessment, we measure outcomes between treatment and control populations of dairy farmers. Baseline measurements were completed in 2013 with mid line and end line assessments planned for 2023 and 2017.

Secondly, the programme’s monitoring and evaluation team gather data from dairy hubs to better understand performance against key metrics, including milk volumes, sales revenues, membership and access to and uptake of key dairy farming inputs by smallholders. The information provides the basis for adaptive management, helping the programme engage in conversations with dairy hubs and agro vets over business performance and growth. We also use focus groups and field research to better understand changing behaviour and practices. Thirdly, we use an annual “dipstick” measurement to check the programme’s performance against key log frame milestone targets at outcome and impact level annually.

To date, MAP’s dairy interventions are estimated to be reaching nearly 12,000 smallholder dairy farmers. In the case of the hay and fodder intervention, foundations are in place to ensure long-term sustainability, with commercial hay producers partnered with MAP already investing over 15 million Kenya shillings in expanding production. Throughout 2013, the number of outlets selling quality assured hay has increased from 2 to 36, and the amount of land under cultivation for quality hay production has expanded to over 2,000 acres.

Through MAP’s support we have been able to drive down costs of hay in the short term [to Ksh 120]. The next step is to sustain this production cost and thus increase farmers’ awareness of hay as a solution for improving productivity.
Jane Muya, a dairy farmer and the General Manager of Ndumberi Dairy Cooperative