The traveling workshop to Kenya by the LIVES steering committee in early October brought many insights related to horticulture and livestock. These sectors are more advanced in Kenya than Ethiopia and steering committee members described the visit as an “eye opener”.
Committee members observed some striking differences between Ethiopia and Kenya. They visited Thika and Nyeri districts, which belong to high potential agro-ecological zones and are located close to Nairobi.The major difference is the predominance of the private sector in Kenya with the State limiting its role to developing and implementing regulations and economic interventions related to national interests, such as smart subsidies for maize growers. The group also visited highly intensive farming systems combining vegetables, fruit, maize, coffee, fodder and dairy on smallholder farms with a size ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 ha. The farm owners use manure to maintain soil fertility and crop production and made limited use of chemical fertilizers.
During the discussions with Kenyan farmers, the participants noticed the crucial importance of collective action in areas like bulk marketing, savings and credit cooperatives and farmer to farmer extension activities. The freedom of farmers to organize themselves is quite a new idea in Ethiopia where most farmers’ organizations like cooperatives are actually established by the State.
Given the differences between the two countries, committee members concluded it would not be possible to simply ‘copy and paste’ to Ethiopia what they saw in Kenya.
(Contributed by Philippe Lemperiere)