Youth Direct: Young People’s Participation in Agriculture – Stories and Experiences

Reaching young people is a fundamental goal for Producers Direct and for five years, we have been working with youth groups across our network to provide platforms and opportunities for young people to interact with their peers and other strategic partners and establish thriving agri-enterprises in Kenya and beyond. 

One of these groups is The Youth Innovation Hub in Kayonza, Uganda, which was created to work with young people, inspiring them to start their own agriculture businesses and supporting them to create thriving enterprises. Started in November 2016, the youth-led initiative has continued to be a place where young people share ideas, learn and continuously innovate solutions to show their peers that when powered by a generation of young people and with the right support, the youth can make a significant contribution in this crucial sector.

This September, a few members of the Youth Innovation Hub shared what their experience has been since becoming part of the network.

 

Saviour Natukunda  

Age: 27

Location: Kayonza

Before I joined the Youth Innovation Hub in 2019, I had just completed secondary school and was at home. Becoming part of this network was one of the best decisions I made because I felt like my eyes were opened. I have learnt about leadership, about different modern techniques that can be applied in farming so that smallholder farmers can benefit from their enterprises. All of these lessons have made me change my mindset about agriculture. Right now, I know that there’s a lot of value in agriculture and it is possible for farmers to make profit through farming.

As a youth agent, I act as an intermediary between farmers and buyers by enabling farmers to sell their produce to buyers in different markets. Through the platform FarmDirect, farmers in Kanungu district have sold bananas, vegetables and avocados.

I’m glad that I am able to help farmers and at the same time add a little more money in my pocket. I have learnt a lot about agriculture and through the trainings I have attended, I see a lot of opportunities that young people like me can explore in the field of agriculture and so I always try and share some of these tips and lessons with some of my friends to encourage them to be part of the Youth Innovation Hub.

 

Birahira Joachim

Age: 29

Location: Kyeshero, Kanungu – Uganda

I became a member of the Youth Innovation Hub in 2021. Before that I was a student. I have learnt a lot since joining other young people in the Youth Innovation Hub. Here, we work together as a team to conduct  farmer training for our farmers in Kayonza and we also encourage communities to participate in different activities that are agriculture related. Being part of the YIH has enabled me to build my confidence, because we are always interacting with different people every day, and I’ve built relationships with the community around me and beyond.

I have also learned a lot about saving and about agriculture. Some of the things I’ve learnt are how to grow vegetables in kitchen gardens, I’ve learnt about using plastic bottles for irrigation, growing vegetables in sacks especially where acquiring land is a challenge and I’ve also learnt about fish keeping. I have also managed to save some little money in my bank account and now I am sharing this knowledge with my friends and other young people like me in my community.

I love the YIH because our teamwork has helped us to achieve success in our projects and I am grateful to Keneth for his leadership and I look forward to continuing to build more innovations and learning more from my team, because together we all win. My goal for the next three years is to start a union where I’ll continue to work with farmers where I can support their work and engage even more farmers. 

Niwahereza Abias

Age: 28

Location: Kayonza

I have been a part of the Youth Innovation Hub (YIH) since February 2018.For these past four years, I have been inspired by other young people like me to grow my leadership skills because we are always exchanging ideas, and trying out new innovations. I have also had the opportunity to represent young people in agriculture conferences and forums in different regions in Uganda.The opportunities I’ve had to travel through the YIH have given me a chance to see the many amazing innovations in the agribusiness sector, some of which we’ve also tried to implement here in Kayonza. 

 

My network continues to grow because I now interact with more people and because we are always learning from each other, I keep meeting new people as I build my network. In these four years, I have attended many farmer demo-trainings, where I have learnt about urban farming and how technology can be applied in agriculture. One of my biggest lessons is about the power of teamwork. It is through teamwork and being in a group like the YIH that I’ve had all these opportunities to learn and meet new people and so my encouragement to other young people is to not shy away from being part of a community or a group like this, because there are many opportunities to share, learn and grow. 

 

Name: Turyakira Bruce,

Age: 27 

Location: Kataburaza kayonza, kanungu District

 

Before I became a part of the Youth Innovation Hub in 2016, I was a student. At the time, I had very little knowledge about agriculture, especially knowledge about how a young person like me can have a business in agriculture. My network of friends was mostly the people I knew around my village and very little beyond that. Literally, my whole world existed in my village and it ended there. 

When I joined the Youth Innovation Hub, it opened my world and I began to have a different view of the world. I started attending agribusiness tours and leadership seminars sponsored by the hub. I was among the few members who got selected to attend a one-week agribusiness tour in 2017 in Kenya. It was one of my most memorable experiences because that’s one of the events that really gave me a different view of agriculture and helped me change my mindset. The exposure I got from the trip was amazing, and I learned a lot and by meeting different people from across East Africa, I began to build my confidence. 

From this conference, I was able to raise money that paid for my first semester in university. The Youth Innovation Hub  has given me a chance to meet many people both young and old, who I’ve learnt a lot from. I now have a strong network of friends beyond my local community, which is great. From the many agribusiness tours and training that I have received, I’ve been able to start my own enterprises. I grow coffee and keep poultry and pigs.

When I joined the youth innovation hub I didn’t think that I would be part of this network of other young people like me. I remember our coordinator Keneth would encourage me to work hard and that if I continued to be persistent, I would join him and other young people and that we would work together. Now, I am here as an employee of the YIH and it feels really great because this is something that I love doing. I really don’t know what I’d be doing if I hadn’t become part of the YIH.

I encourage other young people like me to join such networks where they can engage with other young people like them, share ideas and set long-term goals which together they can achieve. Being part of the Youth Innovation Hub has made me see that when people work together, they can achieve even their long-term goals.

Q&A WITH OUR CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE MANAGER

Smallholder farmers in our network are organised into cooperatives or producer organisations which we refer to as Centres of Excellence (CoEs). Our CoEs are a farmer-run enterprise hosted by producer organisations. They ​support farmers through ​farmer-led training, ​funding through a farmer-led credit fund, ​market ​access, and farmers accessing applicable data to help them make better farming decisions. Through this model, we continue to grow thriving smallholder communities where each smallholder can realise their vision.

Agaba Keneth is a manager at one of our Centres of Excellence (CoE) – Kayonza, Uganda. Keneth has vast experience working with farmers and young people in Uganda and together with a team of youth agents, Keneth leads the day-to-day management at Kayonza. We spoke with Keneth who shared with us his experience working with smallholder farmers in Kayonza, the highlights of his work and the ways farmers can be supported to strengthen their enterprises and why more needs to be done to encourage youth participation in agriculture.

 

Take us through a day with you as a CoE manager. 

I am a passionate farmer and enjoy learning about farming, sharing my experiences with farmers and anyone interested. I am keen to understand the impact we can make in our communities, especially in agriculture. I enjoy working with young people and I work closely with the farmers in my community every day to understand what they do,  their challenges and how best to support them. I also like working with agriculture-related organisations that support smallholder farmers. I have previously worked with farmers in different communities as well as young farmers here in Uganda.

 

How many farmers are in your network in Kayonza?

Kayonza Growers Tea Factory has around 8,000 smallholder farmers, and we have around 3,000 smallholder farmers in our network. Some of these are part of the Youth Innovation Hub. They grow bananas, avocados, vegetables and do poultry keeping, dairy farming and beekeeping. There are also farmers who have ventured into value-added products like using bananas and pineapples to make wines.

Kayonza is mainly known for tea production, but farmers have begun introducing diversification products. Has this had an impact for the farmers?

Farmers have seen increased production because they’ve been applying a lot of the learning from the training sessions we have been having. They are selling more and adding a little more money into their pockets. Working with the youth agents has also been a great way to provide market access for these products. Through peer-to-peer learning, farmers can build a network of farmers they can learn from.

I’m also glad to see many more farmers in our network keeping records to help track the progress of their businesses. Another thing that has worked for us is our zonal groups. Grouping our farmers into zones has made training more structured and effective and we are able to monitor the progress and support the farmers more efficiently. The best thing about these zonal groups is that they were all created by the farmers. They mobilised amongst themselves and formed groups that work for them, and selected a committee that is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of all the activities of all the zones.

 

What challenges do smallholder farmers experience and in your opinion, what can be done to help break down these barriers?

Training is key. Farmers need information and skills about how best to use their land, how to make their farming a business and the many opportunities that exist and they can take advantage of. There are many subsistence farmers with big chunks of land that they can use to grow commercial crops and the thing standing between them and having these enterprises is a lack of training and skills. So in my opinion, this will be a good place to start. 

We also have seen many farmers who have excess produce from their farms, but lack the markets where they can take their produce. For these farmers, we can help provide access to markets and for others like banana farmers, we can train them on the benefits of value addition. 

Because of a combination of customs, policies and laws, young Ugandans are unable to own land. And getting parents, who are the land owners, to trust them with doing any kind of farming on their land is a challenge. And so, some young people lose interest in wanting to start something in agriculture. If young people could access land, they could earn a living from the industry.

 

From your own observation, what comes to the minds of young people when they think about agriculture as a profession?  Do they see it as an area where they can make money?

In a country like Uganda, with a population of more than 48 million people, most of our food is produced by older farmers – our parents and grandparents who make sure that we have food every day. If you take a look at previous years, despite it being the backbone of our nation, agriculture hasn’t been the sector that attracts young people. But what’s exciting now is the innovations we are beginning to see in the sector. Young people are now getting interested in the modern forms of agriculture, opening up the opportunities for younger farmers to consider this as a field where they can get into and actually earn an income from.  

For example, in the last five years, young people have ventured into a few areas across the agriculture value chain, like marketing and production. While acquiring land is still a challenge for most young people, a few farmers have started projects where they lease land to young people, where they can grow avocados. There are those who run their own micro- enterprises like pig farming, keeping goats, poultry, beekeeping and fish farming in small plots of land that do not require a lot of space. We have a Youth Innovation Hub in Kayonza where about 24 young people are doing commercial farming and they are also shareholders in our tea cooperative.

 

And what in your opinion can be done so that more young people can consider opportunities in agriculture?

I have been working with people for over 10 years now and throughout the years, we’ve tried different approaches to motivate young people to venture into the industry, and while some approaches have not worked and some have, I’ve learned a lot.

While lack of finance to start is a huge barrier preventing young people from wanting to consider a career in agriculture, I think we can first start by providing a platform where young people have a sense of belonging and they feel they can contribute. It is for this reason that we formed the Youth Innovation Hub in Kayonza. When young people came together to share ideas, we saw many more young people engage and that’s how all the micro-enterprises I’ve mentioned started.

My dream is to have an Africa Youth Innovation Hub, where young people from across Africa can showcase what they are doing in their countries, their innovations and inspire other young people like them. This way, we can learn about the gaps that exist and by working with young people, identify solutions that will enable the creation of more opportunities in the industry. If supported, young people can become successful agri-preneurs, designing innovations that will power the agriculture sector now and in future.

Tell us a little about your experience working with youth agents. 

Working with youth agents has made it possible for us to reach many more farmers in a day. We are able to allocate tasks in a way that is efficient and allows us to best support our farmers. Right now we are able to monitor farmers’ activities and monitor their progress as well. Working with youth agents has made it possible to deliver on a lot of our projects in good time.

Our youth agents facilitate sales between farmers and buyers. Our goal was to ensure that the farmers in our network and the surrounding communities understand the value of our Centre of Excellence in enabling farmers to access markets, and youth agents have been our champions in driving market access and training farmers and buyers about how to navigate the platform. We are proud of the work they do every day.

 

Please share with us how farmers in Kayonza were affected by the pandemic and how they were able to cope during the difficult period.

Our farmers were not exempt from experiencing the negative effects of the pandemic. Because of the lockdown measures, everyone had to stay home, making it difficult for our farmers to sell their produce and even when they could, they sold at very low prices. Tea prices went down and farmers who depend on a single cash crop were greatly affected. 

One of the ways that we worked together with farmers to reinforce the health measures from the government and to ensure that our farmers stayed safe and protected during the pandemic, was through sensitisation, using the training materials that farmers co-designed with the Producers Direct team. 

We are grateful that things began picking up after the measures were lifted. As we speak, I am aware that there are some organisations that closed down during the pandemic and they have never reopened. And while some farmers are still paying some of the debts they incurred during that period, they are glad that things are slowly going back to normal.

 

We’ve seen how climate change is affecting the agricultural sector. How are you helping farmers in your network deal with these negative effects? 

Climate change is a major challenge for farmers and they are noticing the negative effects too. One of the ways we are working with farmers is through reforestation. Farmers are planting trees and are learning about how to conserve natural forests. The introduction of diversification products has also greatly contributed to address food security.

 

Finally, what have been your highest and lowest moments working with smallholder farmers in Kayonza? 

The pandemic was the lowest moment for me because everything was closed, farmers couldn’t sell their produce like they normally would and things were difficult for them. 

Another low moment for me, which we are working on, is to increase the participation of female farmers. While we have female farmers in our network, their number is low when compared to that of men, and so one of my goals is to work closely with more female farmers to increase their participation and interest in agriculture. 

Our youth agents love working with farmers. It is always great to see farmers learning from the trainings. The peer-to-peer training in the farmer demonstration sites has greatly contributed to farmers learning and putting into practice what they learn in their farms.

One of my highlights is whenever I see farmers working together during meetings and training on the demonstration sites. It always gives me joy because I know that they are not only learning directly, but that they are implementing what they are learning on their farms and in their agriculture enterprises.

Wilder Herrera

I took up beekeeping thanks to a training opportunity offered by Cenfrocafe. I really enjoyed it and became very passionate about bees. I decided to take up beekeeping as an additional activity on my farm because I believe in always developing my skills. I started with three bee hives, and after two years had 15 hives. Right now, I have 35 honey-producing hives. Aside from keeping bees, I grow coffee and I am part of the reforestation project here in Cajamarca, Jaén. I keep domestic animals too.

I started with three bee hives, and after two years had 15 hives. Right now, I have 35 honey-producing hives. 

Beekeeping is a short season and high-value business making it a profitable venture for farmers. For one to produce a crop like coffee for example, a farmer needs at least two years. To get honey on the other hand, a well-trained bee farmer needs only 6 months and they can begin to harvest honey.

I invest a lot in beekeeping, and it’s not just because I have a lot of experience as a producer, but because I make sure that I’m always learning. For me, beekeeping is great especially in a place like this where there’s an abundance of flora, it is like a paradise with the potential to produce high quality honey, so what we need is more hives because we can harvest a lot of honey here. 

Beekeeping is great especially in a place like this where there’s an abundance of flora, it is like a paradise with the potential to produce high quality honey… 

I am grateful for the training opportunities I’ve had that continue to help me grow as a farmer. Because of the knowledge I have on bee farming, I know that this is a profitable business for me. I also know that beekeeping compliments other agricultural activities as it helps in pollination and honey has many health and nutritional benefits. Beekeeping provides a lot of benefits. Bees have a very important role in pollinating the flowers that already exist and I’ve learned that while honey is produced all over the world, there’s a great diversity of flowering plants which provide nectar and pollen for bees. Apart from honey, there are other beehive products that bee farmers harvest. I produce honey, wax, pollen, propolis, jelly and apitoxin – which is the poison of bees that are used in countries like Korea and China.

 

Through training from the Universidad Agraria La Molina in Lima and by working with the Peru Inka industry,  I have learned how tomake my own branded products from honey and other beehive products like facial cream, soaps and shampoos. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. As chairman of my local organisation, I am working on a project that runs until the end of 2022 and together with my cooperative, we are working to expand into international markets in the middle east. Our plan is to see beekeepers in the Cajamarca region sell their honey to international markets.

Our plan is to see beekeepers in the Cajamarca region sell their honey to international markets…

Bees may be small creatures, but they play a very important role. As a beekeeper, one needs to dedicate their time and be passionate about this business, and constantly attend training sessions to learn more about bee farming and to develop skills in this industry. I think it is important to leave something for our children and grandchildren. If God gives us life, it is important to live in harmony with nature. We’ve all experienced the sudden climatic changes all over the world, and I believe with reforestation and beekeeping we can play a part in contributing to protecting our land and our planet. I encourage other farmers to try bee farming, because it is a profitable business that also contributes to environmental protection. 

Q&A WITH OUR CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE MANAGER

At the core of Producers Direct’s model is its Centre of Excellence network, a farmer-run enterprise hosted by a smallholder producer organisation. Our goal is for each CoE to serve as a ‘one stop shop’, providing ​support to farmers through ​farmer-led training, ​funding through a farmer-led credit fund, ​market ​access ​and farmers accessing applicable data to help them make better farming decisions. The CoE model enables farmers and producer organisations to break down the barriers that farmers face, upskilling them to boost their resilience, productivity and livelihoods.

Carolyne Mutai is a manager at one of our Centres of Excellence (CoE) – Sireet OEP, located in Nandi Hills, Kenya. In 2015, she started working as a youth coordinator and was part of the team that established the Sireet CoE, which was started to create additional sources of income for smallholder farmers. Carolyne runs the day-to-day management at the CoE, working closely with youth agents to support farmers to run their agriculture enterprises.

Sireet CoE is largely known as a tea-processing cooperative, and while the cooperative has over the years produced high-quality tea, smallholder farmers in Sireet have ventured into agricultural diversification. By introducing other products such as bananas, avocados and honey they have been able to increase their incomes and mitigate some of the risks that relying on one crop can create. 

Everyday, smallholder farmers face numerous challenges and addressing these challenges is difficult. In a recent interview with Carolyne, she talks to us about  the innovative approaches and strategies that farmers have adopted over the years and even during the pandemic and shares how she thinks farmers across the agriculture value chain can be supported to grow their incomes.

What does your typical day as a COE manager look like?

This depends on the projects I have. For example, when I come in the morning, I go through my schedule for the day. On some days, farmers come to my office in the morning with different requests, like currently, many of the bee farmers want to find out how they can get beekeeping equipment or to find out about selling their honey, so I attend to these farmers first and then go to the farms to meet with farmers to keep up to date on what is going on and help with any challenges they are experiencing. I always have to be in touch with the farmers and so visiting their farms is something I do regularly. Then the rest of my day involves me working on any other tasks either in the office or outside the office.

 

How many farmers are there in your network in Sireet OEP?

We have slightly above 6000 shareholders, but when we count the total number of farmers who have access to the services at Sireet, the number goes up to about 14,000. These services that non-shareholders access are like training, or when they get a market for their products. There was a farmer who recently came in to find out whether he could attend a beekeeping training that was led by one of our promoter farmers and also about where he could sell his 60 litres of honey. Like I mentioned, many farmers are interested in beekeeping

 

 

How have smallholder farmers in Sireet coped with the negative impacts of the pandemic?

The biggest challenge for many farmers was finding a market for their produce. Because of the lockdown restrictions and the curfew, many markets, even within our farmers’ locality, were closed, meaning a lot of their produce would just go to waste because they did not have anywhere to sell. Even the farmers who would usually wait for buyers to come to buy produce from them in the farms also experienced this challenge because movement was restricted. Again, because many farmers are above 40 years old, they had to stay at home to protect themselves from getting infected. After months of making losses, some farmers began trying other profitable ventures like poultry farming and as more farmers learned about how to manage the risks of Covid-19, they found ways to still be productive, despite the pandemic. Thanks to the lifting of the lockdown restrictions and the curfew, and vaccine uptake, more farmers felt safe to go back to work. 

 

What would you say are some of the things that make Sireet a cooperative that’s farmer centered?

The cooperative was founded and is owned purely by farmers, meaning the decisions made at every level are for the benefit and growth of the farmers. Because of this, farmers feel a sense of ownership and a responsibility. The structure of the cooperative also is such that farmers get to interact with the leadership team and doing this makes them feel part of the cooperative and this interaction assures them that their concerns are heard and addressed. 

Our farmers also value trust, and so whenever we have a project, we ensure to engage them throughout the project and address any challenges and support them all the way so that they can trust us with their enterprises. We ensure to give them information at every stage of the project.

From working with farmers all these years, what would you say has been the impact of training on their enterprises?

The biggest impact has been them implementing what they’ve learned in the training sessions in their own farms because they find the lessons helpful. And because they learn from their fellow farmers, they always have their peers to seek clarity from and they can always learn more from them because they are within reach.

We’ve selected promoter farmers based on the enterprises they specialise in and also according to their regions (zones). In that way, farmers know which promoter farmer to go to for training, advice and any other support they may need from promoter farmers. We have promoter farmers in all our zones and the great thing about our promoter farmers is that they are always willing to share their knowledge and expertise. 

There’s a woman who began growing vegetables in her kitchen garden, and when we offered banana training, she was part of the training. After the training, she started growing bananas. She now runs her own banana business, and is now one of our promoter farmers, training other farmers on banana farming. She also brought together a group of women who formed a chama (an informal investment group) where they give monthly contributions to support their goal of becoming bee farmers. They recently came to me asking about how we could supply them with beehives. 

 

When interacting with farmers, what are the challenges that they always highlight that they’d want addressed?

For bee farmers, harvesting honey is one of the areas they need training in. There are farmers who have up to 200 bee hives, all of them colonised, but not having the right harvesting gear or the right skills to ensure that they do not contaminate the honey during harvesting prevents them from making maximum profits from their beekeeping businesses.

For avocado farmers, the only challenge would be to ensure that they get the right seedlings for a certified nursery, because management of avocado farms, with the right seedlings, is not a challenge. For banana farmers, the challenge is finding the right variety of bananas to grow, from the many different varieties that are in the market.So they need training in order to identify the right variety that will do well in their area.

The other challenge for farmers is lack of finance to grow their enterprises and lack of markets for their produce. Access to finance creates opportunities for farmers to explore a wide range of farming options and when they have a market to sell their produce, then their enterprises will thrive. 

 

Other than growing avocados, bananas and beekeeping, what other ventures are farmers diversifying into?

Some of our farmers are dairy farmers, they keep poultry and some have fish ponds and kitchen gardens. 

 

What has been the impact of working with youth agents?

I’ve worked with three of the five youth agents for close to five years. The other two joined us last year. The youth agents are responsible for the different zones within Sireet, and work closely with farmers to support their day-to-day activities. Working with them has made my work more manageable. 

 

What about young people? What agriculture related activities are they doing? 

Some have ventured into beekeeping because it is a shorter season, high-value farm enterprise when compared to crop production. In Sireet, we are creating opportunities for them through value addition and also by being part of the value chain, including areas like transportation. Training and enabling the integration of technology to unlock opportunities is also one other way we are working to ensure that young people can earn a living in agriculture.

 

How can young people be supported to get into agriculture?

By engaging them in youth forums, where as groups, they will share their ideas and tell us what areas they want to venture into when it comes to agriculture. I also think, by engaging with other young people from different counties, they’ll have an opportunity to see what agricultural activities young people are doing and learn from their peers and exchange ideas. 

 

How are the farmers in Sireet dealing with the negative impacts of climate change they are seeing on their farms?

Climate change has been one of the things that we get to talk about here in Sireet. Last year for example, the weather was unpredictable and in previous years, farmers have noticed the changing weather patterns that continue to affect their yield. We’ve had training sessions where farmers are taught about the importance of growing trees to preserve biodiversity. We have a tree nursery here in Sireet, where we distribute seedlings to farmers. We also have training sessions where farmers learn about how to take care of wetlands, preserve the rivers and the forests. In one of our training sessions last year, farmers with kitchen gardens learned a simple farming technology- multi-storey gardening, where through irrigation, they are able to maximise their crop production all year round.

Two years ago, we also had a project where farmers learned how to utilise weather forecasting to help them make plan for the many day-to-day decisions like crop irrigation, what’s the best time to add fetiliser and when to expect rain… And the decisions they made helped them to predict weather patterns and make decisions to improve the production of a successful crop.  

 

Finally, what have been your lowest and highest moments of working with smallholder farmers?

My lowest moments had to be during the pandemic when we had to stop the training sessions and visits to farms, so we couldn’t respond to the challenges farmers were experiencing at the time. It was also a low moment because farmers made huge losses 

One of my highest moments has been seeing farmers put into practice what they’ve learned during training sessions. When a farmer calls to tell me that they are happy they came to the training because they’ve implemented what they learned, and it has improved their yield, that makes me happy. 

 

Head of Resource Mobilisation

About Us

Producers Direct is an award-winning enterprise led by farmers for farmers. We work with smallholder farmers to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to the daily challenges they face enabling smallholders to transform their farms into sustainable businesses. Our unique farmer-led model blends in-person services with cutting-edge digital tools enabling smallholder farmers to enhance their participation in, and ownership of key crop value chains.

Since launching in 2009, we’ve worked in partnership with farmers in our network to design farmer-led digital and in-person services across four key pillars. These are – training and information to improve incomes and resilience, data for improved decision making, financial services to de-risk investment in on-farm diversification, and adopting new practices and access to markets so farmers increase their profits. Producers Direct works with over 1.3 million farmers in the Tea, Coffee and Honey Value chains across East Africa in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and in Latin America, with offices in Kenya, Peru, London, and the United States.

 

About the Role

We are seeking a Head of Resource Mobilisation to lead the delivery of our ambitious multi-year Fundraising, Resource Mobilisation & Partnerships Strategy. This role sits on our senior leadership team, and you will be responsible for leading our Fundraising Teams in Africa and Latin America

This is not a typical fundraising role. It is an exciting opportunity to work with an ambitious international NGO during a period of exponential growth. We have recently developed multi-year partnerships and secured six figure grants from GIZ Innovation for Agriculture Programme, Inter American Development Bank, Dovetail Foundation and WFP Innovation Accelerator. We have an excellent pipeline of fundraising and resource mobilisation opportunities, a strong representation of fundraising skills and contacts on our Board of Trustees and plenty of opportunities for career advancement and professional development.

Job Title: Head of Resource Mobilisation

Reports to: CEO (UK-based)

Contract: Initial 12-month fixed-term employment contract, pending the completion of a successful 3-month probationary review period (with potential for the contract to become permanent beyond the initial 12-months). Contract Terms: Full-time or Part-time (0.8FTE) / flexible working options will be considered.

Location: UK or USA.

 

Goal: Ensure the long-term financial sustainability of Producers Direct by: 1) delivering and further developing our 2022-2025 fundraising strategy to secure ~£3m per year to support programme delivery and operations; and 2) supporting the development of Producers Direct’s business model and leveraging a range of revenue generation opportunities to reduce our income from restricted grants from 90% to 70% by 2025.

 

The person we are looking for:

Creativity and passion

    • Committed to our farmer-led model and strategy to identify and scale innovative approaches to empowering smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods.
    • Innovative and creative when it comes to brainstorming and developing new projects and partnerships, working closely with the global Programmes Team, Digital Team and Senior Leadership Team.
    • Able to distil and communicate complex concepts and highly innovative approaches, which successfully resonates with a range of audiences.

Organisation, planning and initiative

    • Able to develop and deliver clear processes for the Fundraising Team to follow in order to replicate our success on an increasingly larger scale.
    • An excellent time keeper with the ability to work with limited support and hit the ground running.
    • Confident to manage highly complex bids, work to multiple deadlines and engage a range of different partners and stakeholders.

Leadership and strategic thinking

    • Capable of leading a diverse team working across multiple geographies.
    • A confident decision maker with exceptional relationship building skills.
    • A strategic thinker, able to manage the successful delivery of daily/ weekly objectives alongside consistently working towards achieving our strategic vision.

Accountability and commitment to making things happen

    • Able to take ownership of all responsibilities and honour commitments, as well as supporting and empowering their team to do the same.
    • A self starter who thrives working on small, diverse teams and is ready to hit the ground running.
    • Determined and strives to improve and deliver above and beyond what is expected.

 

Responsibilities include:

Objective 1: Lead the delivery and further development of Producers Direct’s Multi-year Resource Mobilisation Strategy, to secure ~£3m per year to support programme delivery and operations from Bi/ multilaterals, Corporates, Private Foundations.

    • Lead the development of successful multi-year fundraising proposals.
    • Cultivate relationships with new potential donors and strategic partners through networking and attending events (online and in person).
    • Creating and delivering compelling pitches for in-person presentations and pitches to potential donors / strategic funding partners.
    • Overall management and growth of the Fundraising Team, including line management for our International fundraising team.
    • Liaise with the programme, digital and finance teams to compile donor reports.
    • Drive a clear donor communications strategy, leveraging Producers Direct’s comprehensive impact data and compelling case studies.

Objective 2: Work with SLT to develop our business model. Help leverage a range of revenue generation opportunities such as Impact Investment / Impact bonds, Green Finance/ Carbon credits, Tech innovators e.g. Blockchain Company Foundations, Individual donors (HNIs etc.) to reduce our income from grants from 90% to 70% by 2025.

    • Help identify and test a range of new innovative approaches to financing our strategic vision to reach 1.7m farmers by 2025.
    • Develop and deliver pitches and proposals to potential investors.
    • Secure funding and partnerships to help deliver ‘proof of concept’ revenue generation projects which can be scaled if successful.

 

Requirements:

    • Extensive experience in the NGO and/or start-up fundraising or business development sector (10 years).
    • A track record of securing multi-year 6 and 7 figure proposals from a mix of NGOs, charities, Trusts & Foundations, Bilaterals, Multilaterals and/or governments to include a record of successful fundraising results. We are also looking for someone who has experience, or is open to scoping, funding opportunities from Impact Investors, Tech Innovators, Green Finance.
    • Excellent interpersonal and relationship building skills (written/verbal) particularly the ability to network and build partnerships effectively.
    • Excellent communication skills – both written and verbal – particularly the ability to produce written proposals/ letters of interest/ concept notes and create and deliver pitches/presentations to potential donors and strategic partners.
    • Line management and leadership experience of a global team.
    • Knowledge and understanding of the sectors Producers Direct operates in and/ or designing and delivering projects which reach rural communities.

 

What we can offer you:

    • Salary: £50,000 – £60,000 for someone based in the UK; $70,000 – $80,000 for someone based in the USA.
    • Initial 12-month fixed term contract, pending the completion of a successful 3-month probationary review period, with scope for longer-term contract extension.
    • Excellent employee benefits package after initial 3 months, including access to a generous pensions scheme with a 9% employer match & 25 days of vacation. *USA applicants, we recently registered in the USA and are unfortunately unable to offer health/dental/vision insurance benefits.
    • Hands on leadership experience and responsibility from day one and the opportunity to make a real impact in a small, but ambitious organisation.

 

If this sounds like you, please send your CV, and a one-page cover letter to info@producersdirect.org by 8th July 2022, with the email subject title :Application: Head of Resource Mobilisation. In your cover letter, please include one paragraph addressing the following question: What is your most successful fundraising achievement to date, and why?

 

Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Q&A: Young Kenyan Agri-preneurs developing tech solutions for bee farmers

When three engineering students from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology saw the challenges bee farmers experience every day, came together and developed a solution. Jackline Tum, a tech enthusiast with a passion for using technology to solve community challenges was interested in helping bee farmers because growing up in Nandi County, she had seen first-hand how farmers would incur losses and fail to get value from their beekeeping ventures. Together with her fellow student, Joseph Musya and Clinton Oduor, they started IBees – an automated non-invasive method to help beekeepers remotely monitor the state of their beehives in real-time on their phones.

This way, farmers get notifications via the IBees mobile application that inform them about any potential risks to their hives, enabling them to act fast and deal with the challenges. Using the mobile application, farmers can also keep apiary records such as harvests and beehive operations tasks and schedules that allow them to track progress and stay up to date.

Last year in partnership with support from UK-Kenya Tech Hub and UK aid, Producers Direct held a Youth Direct na AgriBiz Digital National Innovation showcase to provide a platform for young agri-preneurs to showcase their work in the agriculture space and share their successes from these innovations. IBees won the best innovation award. We spoke to one of the co-founders Clinton about their brilliant innovation, their learnings as they develop it and their future plans for IBees.

How are bee farmers responding to the IBees innovation?

Clinton: At the moment, we are working mostly with bee farmers in Nyeri County and we just recently began to work with bee farmers in Murang’a County and so far, we’ve received positive feedback from the farmers we sampled. They’ve told us that there are a lot of challenges they are facing and having the IBees device is helping to provide solutions to some of  these challenges.  

 

Are there examples of farmers who have shared their challenges and how IBees is helping address these challenges?

Clinton: There is a farmer from Nyeri County who told us that she kept having issues with honey badgers and this was a big problem for her. The solution we offer using our device is the ability to detect vibrations, knocks and also tell if a bee hive has been toppled. Having near real time alerts for her was a much needed relief that helps her respond to these threats in good time. So, whether a farmer is close to the hives or not, they can receive alerts from anywhere in the world. 

We also spoke to a bee farmer in Kitui County, where there are many bee farmers, who told us that a lot (about 14%) of hives destruction is caused by honey badgers. This is a big number considering the number of bee hives that are currently in Kenya, so it is a big problem. We’ve also noticed honey badgers coming to our bee farm at the research centre, further reinforcing that they are a big problem for many bee farmers and farmers need to be able to detect their approach before they get to their hives. 

 

Tell us a little about the farmers in your network

Clinton: Most of the farmers in our network are above the age of 35, but they are also not very old. We have a few young farmers aged 35 and below, but most of them are still trying to understand the business of beekeeping, so they have not done it for a long time. Some of the farmers in our network do beekeeping at large scale for commercial purposes, but some just keep bees as a hobby. There are also farmers from counties like Laikipia County, where they experience human wildlife conflict, who keep bees as a form of protection against destruction by wild animals like elephants. 

 

 How have the farmers in your network embraced using digital tools in their day-to-day farm activities?

Clinton: Today,a good number of Kenyans can access digital technology. But we also acknowledge that this is not so for many farmers. Because of that, we’ve ensured that the device we have designed can be used by any phone user. For example, we have enabled alerts on SMS texts, so for farmers who own feature phones, using our device is not a challenge.  Besides, even bee farmers with traditional bee hives can still use our device

  

What winning the Youth Direct na Agribiz competition meant for IBees

Clinton: Winning the Youth Direct na Agri Biz competition last year was huge for us. First, it showed us that we are contributing towards improving the lives of farmers and helping increase their produce and in turn their incomes. It also made us know that we are enabling sustainable beekeeping practices and  playing a role in bee conservation. We are currently losing bees at a very high rate and this threatens things like food security going forward. The win also enabled us to buy some of the equipment and tools  that we needed to take our project to the next level. At the moment, we are doing extensive active learning before we begin to do this at scale, so that win was a great boost for this project.

 

What are the challenges you’ve experienced when trying to get more bee farmers to use your product?

Clinton: One of the biggest challenges that we have had so far is that some of the components needed to put together our device aren’t sourced locally, and so when we factor in all the costs incurred, the device becomes expensive for the average bee farmer. Because of this, it is difficult to convince a farmer to buy it. So we have invested a lot on our prototype to ensure it works really well before we take it for mass production. And we are hoping that if we produce it at scale, because many farmers will need it, the cost will reduce, making it affordable to many more farmers. At the moment, the device goes for 5000 KSH (USD 50), but after mass production, we are hoping the cost will reduce significantly. And after purchase, the only other cost the farmers will incur will be an annual subscription fee that’s about the price of a jar of honey, like 800-1000 KSH (8-10USD)

What, in your opinion, can be done to make young people consider opportunities in agriculture?

Clinton: As a young person with a technical background, I’ve seen a lot of innovations by young people in the agri-tech field. This is encouraging because it shows young people have an interest in developing innovations that farmers and the agriculture industry can benefit from. And while not all young people can be directly involved in agri-tech, I think there are many opportunities in this industry. The value chain is broader than just taking a jembe and going to dig. And I think if organisations and stakeholders in this industry can make the opportunities available for young people by offering the skills and training required, many young people will take up jobs in this sector.  

 

What’s next for IBees?

Clinton: Like I mentioned, we just expanded into Murang’a County and our goal is to scale beyond Kenya into other beekeeping countries. The challenges bee farmers are facing in Kenya are also common with bee farmers in other countries, so we believe we can help provide a solution. Aside from making profit from selling our device, we want to gather the data we receive from the devices from beehives in different locations and work with institutions to use the data to learn about how we can save our bees. We want to make an impact on our planet through saving the bees because the importance of bees for our environment and to our crops and food systems cannot be understated. So, aside from IBees being something really cool that my two friends and I designed, we want our work to make an impact in the world. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working with Farmers to Increase their Incomes Through Beekeeping

“ I attended beekeeping training at the Sireet Centre of Excellence (COE) office and after that training, another team of farmers came to teach us more about beekeeping. From these training sessions, I learned more about beekeeping and how to get a market for honey and other farm products.”

At Producers Direct, we understand that agriculture is a key contributor to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and we work with them to support ownership of key crop value chains and on-farm diversification into multiple crops as a key way to increase incomes. By growing multiple additional crops and products, in addition to the main cash crop, there’s potential for farmers to earn more and grow their incomes.

We’ve seen first-hand the wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise which exists in underserved rural farming communities. Our model and approach focuses on creating opportunities for smallholders to share, build upon and strengthen this knowledge and expertise. Using our farmer-led COEs, smallholder farmers  are learning how to implement new and innovative farming techniques  through peer to peer training to transform their farms into sustainable businesses. 

One of the ways our farmers are diversifying is through beekeeping. This is a fairly manageable venture that farmers can add around their farm households, it is flexible and does not require as much tendering as keeping livestock and other crops. Additionally, beekeeping fits well into smallholder farming systems because it does not take up a lot of space, does not rely on other factors like soil fertility or compete with other resources needed by crops and livestock, making it a suitable venture even for young people. 

With this in mind, Producers Direct has introduced modern beekeeping through training and recruitment of bee farmers across East Africa  and Peru, to enable them to set up bee hives, produce and sell honey. Using our four-part, farmer-led support services, farmers are trained on beekeeping, the importance of documenting farm records and how they can use the data to make better beekeeping decisions. Farmers then receive funding in form of beehives and equipment needed to launch their honey enterprises. Bee farmers then work with our network of youth coordinators who create links to local markets where farmers can sell their honey. 

 

Through the four main components of our model, we support farmers to start their businesses, earn additional incomes and share their expertise with other farmers. “In one of the training sessions, we got loans in the form of bee hives to help us set up our beekeeping businesses. This was helpful because we are now able to put our training to practical use.“ Our bee farmers in Uganda and Tanzania have, to date, received 986 Langstroth bee hives and 60 complete kits of protective honey harvesting gear. 

“In one of the training sessions, we got loans in the form of bee hives to help us set up our beekeeping  businesses. This was helpful because we are now able to put our training to practical use.”

 

Alongside our work with farmers, we are creating a farmer-owned brand of honey. By purchasing Producers Direct honey, hundreds more smallholder farms will become sustainable businesses. This honey is currently on sale in Kenya with plans to scale out across our network. 

Beekeeping has the potential to supplement or enhance the incomes of our smallholder farmers  across East Africa and Peru, adding an additional $29 a month (over 50% increase for farmers earning $1.35 a day), according to our research. Our goal is to continue to work together with farmers to sustain this growth, support their beekeeping enterprises by providing them with finance and linking them with markets where they can sell their honey and in future, other bee hive products.

NATALY NICOLE (PERU)

I have been working as a youth agent in Puerta Pulache in Peru since December 2021 and I‘m also a student, doing an undergraduate degree in Agriculture Business Management. I did not have any work experience before I started working as a youth agent, so when I got the opportunity to work with the women in my community, I was excited because I knew I would have a chance to apply what I’ve been learning in school, and at the same time, being a part of this vegetable project will help me to meet some of my course requirements.

 

My work is to support the women in my community to have high-quality products and to find a market for their goods. Together with my fellow youth agents, we do this by ensuring that the seeds the women use are of good quality and without pests or diseases. We also support the farmers by finding a market for their produce and help with any other logistics needed to enable them sell products at the best price. As youth agents, we work together with the smallholder farmers by training them on how they can make use of the digital app to sell their products to customers beyond our community. The digital app is one of the tools we use that allows them to access the training and also to access markets. With the digital app, the female farmers can aggregate their surplus produce and then as a group, they can connect with potential buyers.

The vegetable project is an opportunity for women in my community to provide for their families and I am glad that many of them now have a way to earn an income through farming.

But the communities around us do not give us a lot of support, because of this, many women do not consider this project as a potential way for them to make money. Our other challenge is that many women do not have access to the digital tools that we use. Through conducting more training sessions, my fellow youth agents and I want to enable more women to access and use the digital app.

While it has been challenging to work throughout the pandemic, we’ve had to adapt and adjust how we work to keep the project going. When we couldn’t travel to vegetable farms that were too far, for fear of contracting the virus, we kept contact with the female farmers and monitored progress through phone calls and on WhatsApp to ensure that we followed the health and safety guidelines so that all of us would be protected. But now that the restrictions have been eased, I’m glad that we can visit more farms.

 

 

 

My greatest joy has been to see the progress made by some of the female producers. They have made profits from the project and we continue to see more women grow their incomes. And my greatest achievement so far has been to see farmers get a good harvest and also see their vegetables healthy and without any pests or diseases.

Going forward, my goal in the project is to continue to work with more female farmers and find more ways to motivate and encourage them to be part of the project. One of the ways I think we can do this is by conducting more training sessions where the women will get to learn more about the project and they’ll get to see why they need to join and be part of this network.

 

Celebración por el Día del Cooperativismo Peruano

Por Trilce Oblitas

En el contexto actual peruano se abre paso un proceso que desafía el relacionamiento entre lo urbano y lo rural, así como la aproximación a las realidades rurales desantendidas por décadas. Este proceso resalta la necesidad de revalorizar las estructuras organizaciones que representan al mundo rural y semi rural acostumbrado a estar postergado en la toma de decisiones.

Reafirmado por el gobierno Peruano y el Ministerio de Desarrollo Agrario y Riego (MIDRAGRI), este proceso de cambio incluye la implementación de una Segunda Reforma Agraria que coloca al Cooperativismo como uno de sus ejes y que debe ser promovido.

A lo largo y ancho de Perú, hoy se celebra el día del Cooperativismo Peruano y es imperativo abordar su importancia, siendo descrito como, de acuerdo a la Ley General de Cooperativas, un “sistema eficaz para contribuir al desarrollo económico, al fortalecimiento de la democracia y a la realización de la justicia social.” Hoy 14 de diciembre, día en el que se conmemora el Cooperativismo Peruano, es valioso poner sobre la mesa de discusión lo que representa el sistema cooperativista y cuál es su pertinencia en la inclusión integral de la población rural que, con igualdad de participación y derechos, debe liderar las decisiones que impliquen una mejor calidad de vida para los y las miles de productoras en nuestro país.

De las más de 400 cooperativas agrarias en Perú, las cooperativas cafetaleras que son parte de la red de Producers Direct cumplen con la responsabilidad de hacer llegar un café de alta calidad a la mesa de millones de personas en el mundo y que debe, mirando de adelante hacia atrás, generar el desarrollo económico-social para las miles de familias cafetaleras y sus comunidades principalmente.

El movimiento cooperativista además es una clara expresión de lo que implica una gestión económica y social de abajo hacia arriba, con rendición de cuentas y transparencia, solidaridad, así como la participación democrática y el compromiso con la comunidad. La continua formalización y el impacto social que representa una estructura organizacional como el Cooperativismo, que además mantiene vigentes formas ancestrales y consmovisiones en el relacionamiento con la tierra, cooperación entre pares, hace que hoy más que nunca, sea necesaria para lograr una gestión trazable y sostenible.

Ahora es cuando podemos hablar de generar un valor agregado que sitúe la producción agrícola en el eje de desarrollo y la necesaria industralización en el sector.

Ahora es cuando hablar de seguridad alimentaria implica también una real soberanía alimentaria.

Ahora es cuando podemos avanzar en el accesso a condiciones dignas y justicia social para el mundo rural.

La ola cooperativista debe ser pomovida desde todos los sectores, privados incluidos, buscando unidad, reflexión y sinergías que nos permitan avanzar sin exclusiones. Los principios cooperativistas que rigen este sistema de cooperación y relacionamiento en el mundo rural,  son los que en el marco de una Segunda Reforma Agraria, deben ser fomentados, ajustados, fortalecidos y replicados.

¡Feliz día del Cooperativismo Peruano, a seguir trabajando juntos y juntas!

Taking Stock – Highlighting our Impact so Far

As an organisation, we will continue to strengthen our network of farmers and harness the collective energy of the 1.7M smallholders in our network. As a team, we’ve looked back at what the last decade has taught us and identified these five top learnings to help us reflect, learn, and plan as we look ahead. 

1. WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER 

While farmer leadership is critical, empowering farmers to join forces to tackle global challenges is a gamechanger. Our community of smallholders is our greatest asset, and it is this powerful community that has the potential to rewrite the future for sustainable and inclusive food systems. 

2. DATA IS POWER 

Recent shocks, from Covid-19 to rapidly changing climates, have reinforced the importance of placing actionable, real-time data and digital services into farmers’ hands. 

3. TRAINING ALONE ISN’T ALWAYS ENOUGH 

A 2016 survey revealed that post-training 85% of farmers did nothing. This was for farmers inside and outside of our network, indicating a systemic failure in rural development to incentivize behaviour change and catalyse income improvements. Investing in farmer-led design and providing a package of support services will drive sustained change for all members of smallholder communities. 

4. MARKETS UNLOCK INCOME IMPROVEMENTS 

An evaluation of our work illustrated the powerful impact of investing in markets. We learned that farmers who sold crops into local markets increased their incomes by ~50%. Honey and banana led to the highest increase. Selling small volumes individually yielded the lowest income improvements because smallholders competed with each other, had limited bargaining power and wasted time and money traveling to market. Power lives in our vast community of farmers; when we connect this network digitally and aggregate their surplus, we will change food systems from the grassroots. 

5. IT’S TIME FOR FARMERS TO OWN FOOD VALUE CHAINS 

Smallholder incomes will not improve until they are capturing a higher value for their crops. And this will not happen until farmers, not upstream actors, hold power and are making a fair income from their crops and products. 

Jóvenes peruanos comparten sus experiencias, lecciones aprendidas y aspiraciones tras las capacitaciones a las que asistieron durante la pandemia

Desarrollo de Capacidades Laborales y Emprendimientos Empresariales Juveniles’ es un proyecto de CENFROCAFE, una de las cooperativas socias de Producers DIrect en el norte de Perú, la cual se enfoca en la producción de cafés especiales, tostado de café y apoyo al comercio y desarrollo de sus socias y socios. El objetivo del proyecto es parte de la iniciativa institucional de Cenfrocafe para apoyar a la próxima generación de agricultores, al involucrar a las y los jóvenes en la capacitación y aprendizaje sobre temas como gobernanza y liderazgo generacional.

Desde 2014, Cenfrocafe ha estado trabajando en este proyecto con financiamiento de PRET y en 2020 Producers Direct se ha asociado con ellos en la gestión y desarrollo del mismo.

El impacto devastador de la pandemia en la vida de las y los jóvenes en Perú no debe subestimarse. Y aunque sabemos que las y los jóvenes podrían beneficiarse enormemente de las capacitaciones habituales en persona, fue crucial que volviéramos a planificar las actividades de nuestro programa para garantizar la salud y la seguridad de todas y todos los participantes durante la pandemia.

Cambiamos el modelo de nuestras sesiones de capacitación de presenciales a virtuales y trabajamos en estrecha colaboración con las y los jóvenes para reprogramar las sesiones, decidir las opciones que eran más accesibles para ellas y ellos y para seleccionar los horarios que funcionaran mejor. Realizamos capacitaciones virtuales a través WhatsApp, SMS y llamadas telefónicas. Además de eso, nos acercamos a las y los jóvenes a través de capacitaciones por radio y en persona en grupos pequeños, manteniendo los protocolos de seguridad contra la Covid-19.

A través de nuestro programa de radio semanal llamado “Aprendo en Campo”, que se emitía en Radio Marañón de Jaén, llegamos a miles de personas, entre ellos muchas y muchos jóvenes. El programa de radio también fue transmitido en vivo a través de Facebook, donde tuvimos entre 1.1K y 1.3K visualizaciones.

Estamos felices tanto por la participación como por el impacto de las sesiones de capacitación. Las y los jóvenes informaron que aprendieron mucho y planean utilizar las lecciones aprendidas en el futuro. A continuación se muestran tres historias de jóvenes que asistieron a las sesiones de capacitación, destacando sus experiencias, desafíos y esperanzas para el futuro.

 

Walter Segura Fernández, 19, Base San Luis del Milagro, Jaén

Soy estudiante de administración de empresas y lo que más me gustó de la formación es aprender sobre la venta de café tostado y molido. Aprendí mucho de la capacitación, a catar café y a manejar plagas y enfermedades. Planeo implementar estas lecciones en la agricultura. Además, ahora puedo ver muchas oportunidades en las que podría involucrarme, como convertirme en barista, por ejemplo.

Usaré lo aprendido para llegar a otras y otros productores y aprender de ellos también. En el futuro, planeo tener una planta de procesamiento de tostado molido. Me gustaría animar a más jóvenes a que también formen parte de la capacitación. Hay mucho que aprender sobre el café y hay muchos aspectos diferentes del cultivo de café en los que pueden aventurarse.

 

Karina Lisbeth Collantes Guevara, 20, Base Perla Andina, Distrito de Huabal, Jaén

Soy estudiante de la Universidad de Jaén, estudio Silvicultura Ambiental. Lo que más me interesa es aplicar lo que aprendí en las sesiones de capacitación en nuestra parcela y compartir el aprendizaje con mis padres. Ahora, sé mucho sobre cómo manejar mi vida diaria, cómo manejar los desafíos que experimento en la parcela y también sobre el manejo de plagas y enfermedades para poder producir café de alta calidad.

En el futuro, me gustaría que las sesiones de capacitación duren más tiempo de manera que nos permitan practicar lo que hemos aprendido. Ahora que he aprendido a secar café, podré mejorar la calidad del café de mi parcela. Como joven productora, espero poder traer café de mejor calidad a la cooperativa y me gustaría convertirme en una catadora de café. También me gustaría tener mi propia cafetería.

 

Emely Johany Guerrero García, 17, Base Rinconada, Distrito de Coipa, San Ignacio

Soy estudiante de un curso de producción agrícola. Durante la capacitación, tuvimos visitas de campo, que disfruté mucho. Aprendí sobre la crianza de animales y la medicación animal y sobre cómo mejorar la calidad del café en beneficio tanto de los productores de café como de las cooperativas que lo reciben.

El principal desafío que enfrenté fue llegar al lugar de las capacitaciones. Me tomaba dos horas ir del distrito La Coipa, a un caserío. Y cuando llovía, las carreteras estaban en mal estado, lo que hacía aún más difícil viajar.

Pero me alegro porque ahora sé cómo diferenciar los granos de café y seleccionar los mejores, así como estimar cuánto cosechar por hectárea. Ahora puedo analizar el tipo de café que producen mis padres y decir si es un café de buena calidad. También tengo conocimientos en cata de café, por lo que soy capaz de identificar cafés de alta calidad que se pueden vender en el mercado internacional.

Gracias a las capacitaciones, ahora puedo enseñar a mi familia a producir el mejor café para que siempre suministren café de buena calidad a las cooperativas. Las lecciones que aprendí también me ayudarán en la escuela porque estoy estudiando sobre producción agrícola.

Me gustaría animar a más jóvenes a que también se unan y formen parte de las sesiones de capacitación para que puedan aprender más sobre todos los aspectos de la producción de café, para que todas y todos podamos mejorar la calidad de nuestro café. También me gustaría animar a quienes formaron parte de la capacitación a compartir con sus familias lo aprendido, pues un buen manejo de nuestras parcelas cafetaleras nos permitirá producir café de buena calidad, lo que hará que nuestra cooperativa tenga una gran representación a nivel nacional y a nivel mundial.

 

Young Peruvians share their experiences, lessons learnt and aspirations from trainings attended during the pandemic

‘Desarrollo de Capacidades Laborales y Emprendimientos Empresariales Juveniles’ (‘Development of Work Skills and Youth Entrepreneurship’) is a project by  CENFROCAFE – a Producers Direct cooperative partner in the north of Peru focussing in speciality coffee, coffee roasting and supporting the commercial and community development of its members. The goal of the project is part of Cenfrocafe’s institutional initiative to support the next generation of farmers by engaging young people in training and learning on generational governance and leadership.

Since 2014, Cenfrocafe has been working on this project with funding from PRET and in 2020 Producers Direct has partnered with them in the management and development of the project. 

The devastating impact of the pandemic on the lives of young people in Peru cannot be understated. And while we know that the youth could benefit greatly from the usual in-person trainings, it was crucial that we replanned our program activities to ensure the health and safety of all the participants during the pandemic. 

We changed the model of our training sessions from in-person to virtual and we worked closely with young people to reschedule the sessions, decide on options that were most accessible to them, and they selected times that worked best for them. We conducted virtual trainings on WhatsApp, SMS and through telephone calls. In addition to that, we reached out to young people through radio and in-person, face-to-face trainings in small groups while maintaining Covid-19 safety protocols.

Through our weekly radio program called “Aprendo en Campo” (Learning on the Farm), that was broadcast on Radio Marañón in Jaén, we reached thousands of our audience, including young people. The radio program was also broadcast live through Facebook, where we had visualisations between 1.1K to 1.3K.

We are pleased by both the turnout and the impact of the training sessions. Young people reported that they learned a lot and they plan to use the lessons learned in future. Below are three stories from the young people who attended the training sessions, highlighting their experiences, challenges and hopes for the future. 

Walter Segura Fernandez, 19, Base San Luis del Milagro Jaén

I am a student of business administration and what I liked most from the training is selling roasted and ground coffee. I learned a lot from the training too, like cupping and how to manage pests and diseases. And I plan to implement these lessons in farming. Additionally, I can now see many opportunities that I could try and get into, like becoming a barista.

I’ll use the lessons to reach out to other producers and learn from them too. In future, I plan to own a processing plant for ground roasted. I would like to encourage other young people to also be part of the training. There’s a lot to learn about coffee and there are many different aspects of coffee farming that they can venture into.

Karina Lisbeth Collantes Guevara, 20, Base Perla Andina, Distrito de Huabal, Jaén

“I’m a student at the University of Jaén, studying Environmental Forestry. I am most interested in applying what I learned from the training sessions in our farm and sharing the learning with my parents. Now, I know a lot about managing my day-to-day life, how to handle the challenges I experience in the farm, and also about managing pests and diseases so that I can produce high quality coffee. 

I’d like for future training sessions to schedule more time to allow us to practice what we’ve learned. Now that I’ve learned how to dry coffee, I will be able to improve the quality of the coffee in my farm. As a young producer, I am looking forward to bringing better quality coffee to the cooperative and I’d like to become a coffee taster. I’d like to own my own coffee shop too.”

Emely Johany Guerrero García , 17, Base Rinconada Distrito de Coipa San Ignacio

“I am a student taking a course in agricultural production. During the training, we went for field visits, which I enjoyed a lot. I learned about animal breeding and animal medication and about how to improve the quality of coffee for  the benefit of both the coffee producers and the cooperatives that receive the coffee. 

My main challenge during the training was getting to the training location. It would take me two hours to go from the district La Coipa, to a caserío. And when it rained, the roads were bad, making it even harder to travel. 

But I’m glad that I now know how to tell the difference between coffee grains and then select the best grains, as well as estimate how much to harvest per hectare. I am now able to analyse the kind of coffee my parents produce and tell whether it is good quality coffee.  I also have knowledge in coffee cupping, so I am able to identify high quality coffee that can be sold on the international market. 

Thanks to the training, I can now teach my family about how to produce the best coffee so that they always supply the cooperatives with good quality coffee. The lessons I learned will also help me in school because I am studying about agricultural production.

I’d like to encourage other young people to also join and be part of the training, so that they can learn more about all the aspects of coffee production so that we can all improve the quality of coffee that we produce. I also would like to encourage those that were part of the training to share with their families about what they learned, because good management of our coffee farms will enable us to produce good quality coffee, which will make our cooperative have great representation at the national level and at a global level.”

Engaging Young Kenyans in Agriculture: Producers Direct Partners with Young Kenyans and Key Stakeholders

Throughout June-August 2021, we ran an exciting new campaign in partnership with the UK-Kenya Tech hub. The Youth Direct Na Agribiz campaign aimed to reach out to youth across Kenya to understand their knowledge and attitudes about working in the agriculture sector, uncover inspirational youth-led innovations, as well as hear from key experts in the industry to discuss how best to support youth in developing their skills and enabling them to transform their agribusinesses.

Reaching young people has been a fundamental goal for Producers Direct and for five years, we have been working with youth groups across our network. At the beginning of 2021, we launched the Youth Direct programme in Kenya to widen our reach and create awareness of the opportunities for youth in agribusiness. In the long term we aim to provide a platform where young people can interact with their peers and other strategic partners and establish thriving agri-enterprises in Kenya and beyond.

Due to the public health measures and associated Covid-19 related restrictions, we decided to hold digital county showcases, in partnership with county tech hubs across Kenya – Nyeri, Kisumu, Mombasa Taita-Taveta in June and July. We selected these counties by assessing a range of county level and national documents and policies and based our final decision on a range of criteria including Geographical Representation, Value Chain Diversity, balance of Agro-ecosystems(Inclusion of Marine Ecosystems, Youth Centered Initiatives and Momentum for Growth.

In these county showcase events, hosted and moderated in partnership with the Producers Direct team and representatives from each of the county hubs, young agribusiness innovators shared their agri-tech and agri-business innovations across a broad range of value chains – including horticulture, poultry, dairy and apiculture, their challenges and successes working in the sector while still engaging with key stakeholders in the industry and other youth who are not currently working in the sector. Reflecting on the success of the showcase event, one of the youth agripreneurs from the showcase events said, I’d like to tell my fellow young people doing agriculture to focus on developing solutions that will solve the problems that farmers face.’ 

“I’d like to tell my fellow young people doing agriculture to focus on developing solutions that will solve the problems that farmers face.

A World Bank report in 2015 stated that 1billion young people will enter the job market in a decade, but 600m will not find employment. We conducted an online survey in August, where 89.7% of young people told us that while agriculture can create employment opportunities for young people in Kenya , 78.2% noted that inability to access loans and capital is their biggest challenge when they think about starting an agribusiness venture. Additionally, young people from the showcase events told us that while they are interested in starting businesses in agriculture, they face many barriers to entry into the industry – from limited capital, lack of good will, limited market, scarcity of land, unreliable water, and limited information among many other challenges which discourage them from making an income in the sector. The role of the government and key stakeholders in working together to address these challenges cannot be understated. Involving Kenya’s youth in agribusiness, by presenting opportunities across the value chain in one of Kenya’s biggest industry is crucial now more than ever. 

Over 300 young agripreneurs, county and private-sector representatives were part of the county showcase events. And from these county showcase events, we identified and selected top agriculture innovations by young people and invited them to a final Digital Innovation National Showcase that was held on 19th July 2021. The virtual showcase saw  young agripreneurs from 24 out of the 47 counties in Kenya  showcase their work and share with their peers in the field, how they’ve innovated in their agri-enterprises and how they are earning an income from agribusiness. It was also a chance for youth in agribusiness to engage with strategic partners in the public and private sectors to interact, share knowledge, create linkages and offer avenues for partnerships. Looking back at the showcase, one of the event’s speakers said ‘For a young person, the first step when getting into agribiz is finding out which of the existing programmes work best for you within the value chain in order to collaborate and learn.’

The top three winners of the National Showcase won cash prizes that will go towards expanding their agriculture ventures, alongside an opportunity for mentorship from key experts in agriculture. The other top finalists and youth entrepreneurs from the county showcase events, will continue to engage with their peers in the sector and further interact with public and private sector officials in their specific counties. The National showcase attracted over 193 registrations with representation from 14 counties in Kenya. The event was also made possible through speakers from our partner organisations like Mercy Corps AgriFin, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO Kenya),Syngenta Foundation, Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC), STEM 2030, Silikon Consulting, Equity Bank and Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics.

In partnership with Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics, we’ve conducted a quantitative analysis of the youth participants who attended the showcase events. Results from the survey shows a 10% increase in knowledge around agripreneurship, and a 2.5% increase in their attitudes towards agriculture. While this has not yet translated to any change in behaviour, this positive shift in young people’s knowledge and attitudes about agriculture is likely to inspire more young people to venture into the agriculture industry and many more organisations investing in interventions that are aimed at securing the future of agriculture in Kenya.

The Youth Direct campaign was an opportunity for stakeholders in the agriculture industry to bridge the existing gaps that prevent young people from engaging in the agriculture sector. Going forward, we aim to create more platforms like these for many more youth to learn and engage and take up agribusiness.