Joseph Kaunda pictured alongside his crop of cabbages
In May, PBUK interviewed Geoffrey Nyamota from international development charity Farm Africa about the Growing Futures project in Kenya which equips young people with the skills needed to build sustainable livelihoods as smallholder farmers and escape the poverty cycle. Now, sponsors Aldi UK is marking the first year of its three-year partnership with the Farm Africa initiative by examining the successes so far.
Over the last 12 months almost 400 Kenyan farmers have learned the foundations of how to make farming profitable by growing export quality vegetables.
From these growers, 118 have now completed the first growing cycles of crops and around 96.5 tonnes of cabbage and 37.2 tonnes of French beans have been sold with all profits reinvested back into the fledgling farm businesses.
This is the perfect model of the Growing Futures initiative taking place for two more years in Kitale, western Kenya, thanks to £260,000 worth of funding from the supermarket.
Joseph Kaunda is one farmer benefiting from learning new agricultural skills and practises like crop rotation, irrigation, planting, harvesting and pest management. His bumper crop of cabbages is among the first cycles of crops to come through recently.
Since taking part in the project, he has already been able to use the income generated so far to invest in growing his business.
“The Growing Futures project trained me on how to improve productivity and now I am able to grow different grades of vegetables for different buyers,” he says.
“This has been very beneficial. Through the sale of cabbages, I was able to buy a water pump and I am currently running my own vegetable production as a separate entrepreneur from the group.”
During the last 12 months, the project has established 21 demonstration plots, where young farmers have learned practical skills for growing mangetout, French beans, cabbages, kale and chilli peppers.
The young farmers have also been trained in financial management and how to write business plans, to help them run a profitable agricultural business.
The first vegetables sold achieved impressive profit margins of 62% for cabbages and 50% for French beans. And new buying contracts mean the farmers can enjoy the security of a more reliable income in the future.
“By collaborating with Farm Africa we’ve had a tangible and positive impact on people’s lives, and are helping young people to escape the cycle of poverty,” says Mary Dunn, communications director at Aldi UK.
“Learning these new skills is truly making a difference in these communities. We are proud to be the first and only UK supermarket to support Farm Africa with a project of this type.”
Over the next two years of the partnership the young farmers will receive further training and support in finding the right buyers, business development skills, post-harvest handling and good warehouse practises.
Growers will also gain Global GAP certification to export their vegetables, a crucial step in helping to transform the lives of these smallholder farmers and encourage sustainable practises which will continue to benefit the farmer, their families and community.
“Young people make up a huge proportion of the population in Kenya, where 80% of the population is under the age of 35. In partnership with Aldi UK, we’re helping young people in rural areas grow a brighter future by developing the horticultural and business skills they need to set up successful, profitable horticultural enterprises,” says Penny Ruszczynski, head of corporate partnerships at Farm Africa.