Q&A with a Youth Agent in Peru

Our network of youth agents connects us to farmers on the ground. They work closely with farmers by coordinating training sessions and visiting their farms to check progress and to help solve the challenges that farmers face. 

Since 2022, our youth agents in Peru have been carrying out surveys with coffee farmers, training them on how to use our digital app Croppie. This PhotoCropping app allows smallholders to generate coffee yield predictions using smartphone pictures and AI, providing farmers with actionable agronomic advice on how best to adapt to these forecasts. 

Youth agents are also a key part of our model, linking farmers to buyers through our digital tool FarmDirect. This way, farmers access markets for their produce and the services they need to grow their agriculture enterprises. 

In this interview, we spoke to one of our youth agents in Peru to learn more about what she does, the farmers she works with, her experience so far and her personal goals for the future.


Introduce yourself and tell me what a typical day for you is like

My name is Yacory Ocaña and I am from Jaén city. I have been a youth agent for close to five months now, working specifically in Las Tirias de Jaén. My work as a youth agent at the moment is focussed on doing surveys with farmers and training them on using Croppie. Together with my fellow youth agents, we enable the farmers in our network to sell their produce by linking them to buyers on Farm Direct. We also visit farmers in their kitchen gardens to check on progress and find out from them what challenges they are experiencing then together we figure out how to solve these challenges. 


What motivated you, as a young person, to want to be/ work in agriculture?

My parents are farmers and since my childhood I have seen them do agriculture on their own without getting any advice or training about agriculture. But nowadays, I see farmers getting all kinds of support and this is one of the reasons why I got motivated to work with farmers. I get motivated when farmers tell me things like  ‘I had never sold a product from my organic kitchen garden. I didn’t think that I could make an extra income from my vegetables but now I can.” These are farmers who have been growing just coffee for many years, but now they have kitchen gardens where they grow vegetables and sell those for an extra income. I have always wanted to work with the farmers in my community to diversify because we had been growing only coffee for a long time but as we’ve seen today, it is possible to grow other crops as well.


Are there other young people in agriculture that inspire you? If yes, please tell us about one.

There aren’t very many young people who are doing agriculture, but there is a young farmer who grows vegetables and sells to markets in the Bagua area and he makes good money from that. During the pandemic, his vegetable business did very well and this motivated him even more. He started out with a small area but now he has about half a hectare or one hectare of land. 


How do you link farmers with markets for their produce?

We usually sell directly to small bodegas (small grocery shops). We cannot sell wholesale in large quantities because the markets here in Jaén bring vegetables from the coast at low prices. So farmers end up making little or no profits at all. So we prefer going to bodegas. We gather their produce in small quantities and distribute the produce in bodegas or restaurants. This way, the farmers make more profits.


Could you share with us what your experience has been with working with farmers on Croppie?

When we introduced Croppie to farmers and told them that it is an app designed to enable them to get a yield prediction and even estimate their income, they were very happy. “If Croppie can help us count the coffee cherries without us having to do it entirely manually, we will have better results,” they said.

I also let them know that they could download the app and have it on their phones just like Facebook or WhatsApp. And that by following the clear, farmer-friendly instructions, without needing a technician, engineer or any other expert they would be able to estimate the yield from their farms. 

And because farmers will be able to generate their own yield predictions, they say that this will really help them to make better investment decisions. So when I train them on how to use the app, I mostly allow them to experiment. When they get errors, I let them try again and only intervene when they are completely unable to do something and need support. Seeing farmers interested in understanding how to use the app, having them give feedback on their experience engaging with the app is always encouraging.


Are there any other opportunities Producers Direct has given you as a young agripreneur to help you grow your skills or grow in this field? 

I learned more about biogardens and now I can train farmers on how to manage biogardens. I had very little knowledge in this area before, but by attending physical training sessions and through Farm Direct I got to learn more about vegetables and diversification of production. It is always nice to see farmers bring something new every time we meet for training.


In your opinion what kind of challenges do young people face when it comes to agriculture??

Today most youth prefer to live in the city. While their parents prefer for them to stay in their rural homes, most young people want to study different careers. It is not common to find many young people growing coffee but when you think about something like growing vegetables for example, that doesn’t take that much time and young people can do it. For example, I started my kitchen garden in a small part of my parents’ farm and I’ve gotten extra income from it. Sometimes young people don’t know that there are many opportunities they can explore in agriculture.


And how do you think they can be supported?

I think we need more orientation or training. Many young people see agriculture as difficult. When we speak about agriculture here, what comes to mind for young people is growing coffee, but it would be good to also learn about other diversification products so that they get to know that there are many different things they can grow and make money from growing these products. 


Where do you see yourself five years from now? What are your future goals?

I will have graduated with a degree in forest and environmental engineering and I want to continue working in this sector. By 2028 I would like to have access to new markets for all the crops I am growing. Like I said earlier, I am interested in helping the farmers in my community and I would love to continue doing that through conducting training, visiting them in their farms and supporting them to increase production in their farms. I would also like to have my own business.


Board Chair


Producers Direct is an award-winning organization led by smallholder farmers, for smallholder farmers. Since 2009, we have been working to pioneer a new model centered on smallholders taking leadership and developing innovative solutions to the challenges they face
and providing an opportunity for smallholders to transform their farms into sustainable businesses. We are a UK-registered charity, with local branch registrations in Kenya and Peru, and team members located across Kenya, Peru, the UK and US (supported by 501c3
registration in the US).

Our diverse international Board, currently spans Trustees located in the UK, Kenya and Peru, with strong representation from smallholder farmers from across Producers Direct’s East Africa and Peruvian networks – as well as Board members with a range of skills and expertise working on smallholder agriculture and enterprise development.

We are looking for a new Chair to join the Producers Direct Board from July 2023. The successful candidate will foster an environment where smallholder representatives on our Board of Trustees thrive. Our new Chair will be willing to listen and challenge the status quo on
effective models supporting smallholder leadership within agricultural value chains, and be a strong, reliable source of support to both Trustees and Producers Direct’s senior management team alike. Our new Chair will also adeptly manage the balance between inclusiveness and decisiveness, ensuring Producers Direct’s diversity brings strength to our Board.


To provide effective leadership and management to the Producers Direct Board of Trustees, and Producers Direct Senior Management Team.


  • Enable Producers Direct’s Trustees to fulfill their responsibilities for the overall governance and strategic direction of Producers Direct as a UK charity, ensuring that appropriate decisions are correctly made.
  • Lead trustee discussions on the manner in which the charity continues to provide public benefit, and how such provision is continuously monitored by the board.
  • Work in partnership with Producers Direct’s CEO and Senior Management team to ensure that trustee decisions are acted upon and the charity is managed effectively. The chair should effectively manage the difference between Trustee’s role in developing and agreeing the strategic direction of the charity, and that of the senior management team in applying that strategy to the day-to-day operations of the charity

Main Responsibilities

  • Leading the trustees and members of the senior management team in the development of strategic plans for the charity.
  • Providing leadership and support to the CEO and ensuring that the charity is run in accordance with the decisions of the trustees, the charity’s governing document, and appropriate legislation.
  • Liaising with the CEO on drafting agendas and supporting papers for Board meetings; ensuring that the business is covered efficiently and effectively in those meetings; and ensuring trustee decisions are acted upon.
  • Undertaking a leadership role in ensuring that the Board of Trustees fulfills its charity governance responsibilities.
  • Leading on, with the assistance of the CEO where appropriate, the development and implementation of procedures for board induction, development, training, and appraisal.
  • Supporting and appraising CEO performance.
  • Maintaining the trustees’ commitment to board renewal and succession management, in line with the charity’s governing document and/or current best practice.
  • Ensuring that the performance of the board as a whole, and the trustees individually is reviewed on an annual basis.
  • Providing support between Board meetings as required, for example reviewing documents and approving banking transactions in accordance with relevant mandates.

Who / What we are looking for?

  • Commitment to producer voices, leadership and ownership – in the governance and day-to-day operations of Producers Direct.
  • Experiencing working with smallholder farmers and/or local farming communities.
  • Strong facilitation skills and experience, across diverse cultures and languages.
  • Innovative mindset – willing to support Producers Direct challenge the status quo.
  • Capacity to dedicate the time required to be effective and successful in this role.
    ○ Commitment to serving at least one 3-year term in the role.
    ○ Minimum of four Board meetings per year (quarterly ) – typically virtually, with additional availability for ad hoc meetings in between meetings.

Please note: This is an unpaid, voluntary position. No financial compensation will be available for this role.


How to Apply

  • Please share your CV and cover letter to claire@producersdirect.org

Application deadline: Monday 12th June 2023- 17:30 UTC

Please note: Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Shortlisted candidates should expect to be invited for a first-round interview with Producers Direct’s Trustees and CEO in w/c 19th June 2023.


A Day in The Life of a Youth Agent – AUDREY KYORIMPA

Our network of youth agents connects us to farmers on the ground. Every day, they work closely with farmers, ensuring that through our digital tool Farm Direct farmers access the services they need to grow their agriculture enterprises. 

We visited our Centre of Excellence in Uganda and spoke to one of our youth agents, Audrey Kyorimpa, to hear about their experience working with smallholder farmers, and learn how we can help address the challenges they experience as well as Audrey’s dreams for the future. 

Tell us about yourself

My name is Audrey Kyorimpa and I am from Mutumba District. I am 24 years old. I started working as a youth agent around April 2022 and before that, I was a secondary school teacher.


What made you want to become part of the Producers Direct. 

I love education and agriculture so much. Both my dad and mum are farmers, so I’ve grown up on a farm, seeing my parents farming all my life. You can say I am an expert in farming. I like doing everything about farming.

I am also a member of the ACPCU coffee cooperative society and my friend who is also a member of the cooperative is the one who told me about Producers Direct. She asked me to consider being a part of this network because she knows that I’m interested in agriculture, so I said, let me explore this opportunity because I’ll learn and grow.


What does your day as a youth agent look like?

I sometimes take my breakfast on my way to the field, then I check my notebook to see if there’s anything in my list that I need to prioritise. Most of the time, I am  connecting farmers to customers. As a youth agent, I work with a select group of farmers, so whenever farmers reach out to me with questions about their farms, I make sure to visit the farmers I work with and figure out how I can help them.


What are the challenges that most farmers tell you they experience?

Some of these farmers come from deep in the village where roads are terrible, and because of that, one of their main challenges is finding a market for their products – transport is a challenge and it is also expensive. So whenever it rains, bodaboda riders will charge farmers a higher transport cost , which then means that the buyer will pay more than the usual price they are used to.

The other thing farmers want is more training. They want to learn more about how they can increase productivity on their banana and coffee farms so that they can grow their enterprises. 

There’s a time when I was asked to select a few farmers from my list to take the training that was being offered. They went for the training and came back celebrating because they’d learned a lot.


How would you say Farm Direct has helped farmers to access markets for their produce?

Farmers are happy that now they have a market for their products and buyers are happy too because the products reach them quicker than before and both the farmers and buyers are selling and buying their vegetables, avocados at better prices than before.


Please briefly take me through the process of buying produce through Farm Direct

Normally, a buyer calls me and says Audrey I want bananas for example. Then I ask the buyer to make an order. Once they place an order, and the quantity that they want, they also include how much they are willing to pay for the product.

Then I come in to check from which farmer I can source the bananas. I usually ensure that all the farmers in my allocated area get to sell, so I don’t always source from the same farmer. After I confirm that the selected farmer has the bananas and in the required quantities needed by the buyer, I buy the products from the farmer and reach out to a bodaboda rider and negotiate a good price for transport. They then take the products from the farmer to deliver to the buyer. When the bananas are delivered to the buyer, they pay the bodaboda rider and I move to the next order.

Youth agents always inspect orders before buyers make a payment


How about for the buyers, how do they find Farm Direct?

They appreciate it. When I first introduced them to Farm Direct, I explained to them how it works and what they need to do whenever they need to buy produce. “ Are you sure it is going to work?” they’d ask me at first, but now they appreciate that it is making things easier for them.


In your opinion, what do young farmers grow and how can they be supported to thrive in agriculture?

Some young people grow bananas, others also have tree nurseries where they grow trees. Most of them do this in small portions of land, but at least I can say there are young people who are doing farming in this area. I think young people can be supported by getting training because many of them are just starting out and they can benefit through learning.

I think with more education about the opportunities that are there in the field of agriculture, even explaining to young people what cooperatives are, how they work and why it is important or necessary for young people to join cooperatives, young people can be motivated or inspired to take up agriculture. 


Where do you see yourself five years from now? 

Like I said, I love teaching and agriculture. I see myself at a higher level than where I am now as a youth agent. I would like to get training so that I can also train other farmers on how they can do farming better. I also would be interested to travel outside my city on an exchange program outside Uganda to see what other different and exciting things people are doing out there.



Vote Producers Direct!

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech is a global competition designed to inspire innovative solutions that increase economic value for small- and medium-sized African farms. Expert judges will be assessing field test data from competing teams, and awarding the competition’s $1 million grand prize and other prizes.

The People’s Choice bonus prize gives the public an opportunity to vote for the team they think has the most transformative solution. The Finalist team receiving the most votes will win $100,000.

Voting is open from February 1st–22nd, 2023.

Vote Here

We Are AgriTech Finalists

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech is a global competition for innovative solutions designed to increase economic value to farmers. In February 2022, Producers Direct was named as a Finalist for the inaugural award.

Through our digital innovation Farm Direct, which was co-designed with farmers in our network, we aim to put technology and data into the hands of smallholder farmers, enabling them to improve their livelihoods using accessible technology. Through the platform, we are investing in farmer-led design and providing a package of support services to drive sustained change for all members of smallholder communities, and we are honoured to share this stage with other amazing innovators across Africa.


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.


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. 


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.



    • 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.


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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.

Tercer Foro de Jóvenes – 2020

“We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable.”

— Greta Thunberg

Read in English below

El rol de las y los jóvenes en diferentes ámbitos es cada vez más importante. Hace solo una semana que ellas y ellos se levantaron en Perú y, a través de manifestaciones multitudinarias, lograron que su voz sea escuchada. La situación no es diferente en el rubro agrícola. Las y los jóvenes son una pieza clave para que la agricultura esté al día y se apoye en la innovación y tecnología para ser más eficiente en términos de recursos, permitiendo que sea más rentable y responsable con el medio ambiente. Sin embargo, muchas veces sus ideas no son tomadas en cuenta y su potencial es desperdiciado. 

Tras más de 10 años de trabajo con pequeños agricultores y agricultoras, en Producers Direct hemos identificado la gran capacidad que tienen las y los jóvenes y trabajamos para potenciar estas capacidades. Este noviembre, tal como lo hemos hecho durante los últimos dos años, se llevó a cabo el Tercer Foro de Jóvenes. Esta vez, debido al Covid19, la reunión se tuvo que hacer virtual, lo cual nos demostró una vez más que las y los jóvenes no ven limitaciones cuando se trata de su aprendizaje y desarrollo.

El foro fue organizado por Producers Direct, Rikolto, Trias, Progreso y NCBA Clusa. En él participaron alrededor de 60 jóvenes de diferentes organizaciones productoras y cooperativas agrarias cafetaleras del Perú y una organización de Colombia. La red de cooperativas socias de Producers Direct en  Perú como la CAC Pangoa, CAC La Prosperidad de Chirinos, Aprocasi, Cenfrocafe, Norandino también participaron con sus jóvenes representantes

Los temas abordados giraron en torno a tres paneles centrales: Planes de Negocios, con el subtema Manejo de Herramientas Digitales; Diversificación productiva Y Seguridad Alimentaria y Gobernanza: Fortalecimiento Organizacional con los subtemas de Género y Gobernabilidad, Cambio climático y Apoyos de programas nacionales en Tiempos de Covid19. Las y los expositores fueron especialistas en los temas mencionados quienes compartieron su experiencia y aprendizajes con las y los participantes. 

El evento ha servido para acrecentar y fortalecer los lazos entre jóvenes de diferentes organizaciones productoras. Sabemos lo que pueden hacer las y los jóvenes cuando están unidos. Seguiremos realizando actividades que ayuden a fortalecer estos lazos y desarrollar sus capacidades. ¡Los mantendremos informados!

Third Youth Forum – 2020

The role of young people in different areas is increasingly important. Only a week ago they rose up in Peru and, through massive demonstrations, they managed to make their voices heard. The situation is no different in the agricultural sector. Young people are a key piece for agriculture to be up-to-date and to rely on innovation and technology to be more efficient in terms of resources, allowing it to be more profitable and responsible with the environment. However, many times their ideas are not taken into account and their potential is wasted.

After more than 10 years of working with small farmers, at Producers Direct we have identified the great capacity that young people have and we are working to strengthen these capacities. This November, as we have done for the past two years, the Third Youth Forum was held. This time, due to Covid19, the meeting had to be made virtual, which once again showed us that young people see no limitations when it comes to their learning and development.

The forum was organized by Producers Direct, Rikolto, Trias, Progreso, and NCBA Clusa. Around 60 young people from different coffee producing organizations and agricultural cooperatives in Peru and an organization from Colombia participated in it. Producers Direct’s network of cooperatives in Peru such as CAC Pangoa, CAC La Prosperidad de Chirinos, Aprocasi, Cenfrocafe, Norandino also participated with their young representatives.

The topics addressed revolved around three central panels: Business Plans, with the subtopic Management of Digital Tools; Productive Diversification and Food Security and Governance: Organizational Strengthening with the subtopics of Gender and Governance, Climate Change and Support of national programs in Times of Covid19. The speakers were specialists in the aforementioned subjects who shared their experience and learnings with the participants.

The event has served to increase and strengthen ties between young people from different production organizations. We know what young people can do when they are united. We will continue to carry out activities that help strengthen these ties and develop their capacities. We will keep you informed!

“La calidad de mi café salvó mi vida y la de mi familia”

Reyna Isabel Mamani es socia de la cooperativa Inambari, una de las ocho bases de la Central de Cooperativas CECOVASA, ubicada en el valle de Sandia en Puno. 

Reyna es una mujer emprendedora y desde hace mucho tiempo se dedica a los cultivos de café y cítricos en su chacra, en el distrito de Alto Inambari. A pesar de que la región de Puno, en la que ella vive, es una de las que presentó menores casos confirmados del virus Covid-19, la pandemia ha afectado a los(as) pequeños(as) agricultores(as) de la cooperativa CECOVASA, a la cual pertenece, de diferentes formas. 

“Esta pandemia nos ha afectado a todos en todo sentido … A veces, solo con el café no podemos solventar nuestros gastos. La pandemia ha llegado rápido y no nos ha dado tiempo para prepararnos,” cuenta Reyna. Comenta también que uno de los principales desafíos a los cuales ha tenido que enfrentarse es la falta de mano de obra. Debido a las restricciones de movimiento, las personas que normalmente eran contratadas para la cosecha, no han podido llegar a las zonas cafeteras. “Por la falta de mano de obra se ha estado cayendo el café, afectando a los agricultores.”

No solo la mano de obra no ha podido llegar. Muchos de los alimentos, que normalmente llegaban desde la sierra de Puno, también han sido escasos durante los más de 100 días de cuarentena nacional establecida por el gobierno central. Reyna cuenta que ella y su familia pasaron momentos verdaderamente difíciles.

“Ahora ya estamos más organizados, pero cuando la cuarentena recién empezó, nos afectó mucho, hubo mucha desesperación. Mi familia no ha recibido ninguno de los bonos del gobierno.”

Reyna asegura que lo que la salvó en esta pandemia fue su café de calidad. Ella explica que en la central CECOVASA, primero se paga el adelanto del café y luego, entre los meses de febrero y mayo del año siguiente, se paga el reintegro, el cual depende de la calidad del café. Gracias a su esfuerzo, ella cosecha café de gran calidad, llegando a obtener hasta 86 puntos. “Gracias a ese reintegro yo he podido comer, eso me salvó. Yo valoro mi café. En estas temporadas de pandemia, eso fue lo que nos salvó a los cafetaleros.”

Reyna reconoce que se hubiera podido preparar mejor para obtener hortalizas de su chacra durante la cuarentena. Ella tiene un huerto del cual pudo cosechar algunos productos como lechugas y tomates. Sin embargo, cree que hubiera podido cosechar muchas más hortalizas, las suficientes para toda su familia, si la pandemia no la hubiera sorprendido. 

“Yo no cambio por nada mi valle. Aquí tenemos todo. Hierbas que podemos comer, aguas en las quebradas. Hubiéramos podido hacer mucho, hubiéramos podido abastecer a toda nuestra población. Ahora, después de esta pandemia, vamos a estar siempre preparados.”


Cooperation, cooperatives

By Trilce Oblitas, Peru Manager.

Since 1923, the first Saturday of July is the date to commemorate Cooperativism as it is the the International Day of Cooperatives. Though this day focusses on a different and relevant thematic each year, 2020 being Climate Change, it should allow us, considering the defiant context, to look back at how Cooperativism came to be and why it represents an organizational structure that challenged the status quo on the relationship between workers, a fair wage and working conditions, and the option to have a say in the business if a member. To date, according to the United Nations and the International Cooperative Alliance, there are 3 million cooperatives in the globe which employ around 280 million people.

It was during the late 1700s and mid 1800s that new forms of workers’ associations came to be, initially in Europe, but soon it would propagate to other regions were, it is worth mention, different forms of collaborative work had been in place prior to colonization. In Peru for example, the Inca civilization had exercised different collaborative and communal forms of work such as the Ayllu, Ayni and Minka. However, and in particular looking at the peasant and agricultural communities, which in Peru makes close to 30% of the cooperative type, during and after colonization, these forms of community-based collaboration were eradicated and a exploitative relationship between land-owners and land-workers were established.

Building on the spirit of cooperative work and the demand for a fair share of income, cooperativism defies this exploitation and also the enrichment of few at top at the expense of the majority at the bottom and it looks at eradicating the middle man which would usually get more income than the producers themselves. As such, while in Peru the Cooperativism movement, as we know it nowadays, had different waves and it was a social figure of organization pre-colonization, it only reached legality in 1964. However, it was not until the First Agrarian Reform lead by Velasco Alvarado, in 1969, that the exploitative, almost slavery-based, relationship between the land-owners and the land-workers, the peasants, was rebelled against. This is probably an important moment to look at, as it represented the beginning of a shift in the development paradigm and the role of social organization from a democratic lens.

According to the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), founded 125 years ago, cooperatives can be defined as an autonomous association of people that, voluntarily, have decided to work together in order to satisfy their needs and  social, cultural, economic aspirations shared. How do they do it? Through the creation of an enterprise/company that is co-owned by them and democratically governed.  Cooperativism can be a true democratic form of organization as it fights poverty and creates wealth to be shared equally between its members, “(…) this results from the co-operative principle of members’ economic participation: ‘Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative.’ Because co-operatives are people-centred, not capital-centred”,  they do not perpetuate, nor accelerate capital concentration and they distribute wealth in a more fair way” (United Nations).

Though working in development does not make organizations particularly democratic, it is well-known that top-down approaches resonate across the sector, I dare to postulate that Cooperativism and sustainable development are intrinsically connected. Furthermore, the social, economic and environmental commitments to their communities and the global community, accounts for a true form of sustainability. Perhaps it is then possible to say that Cooperativism is not only capable of challenging socio-economic structures thought to be fixed, but also transform them.

During the last 5 years, it has been a true privilege to be able to directly work and learn from the Cooperative movement and the agricultural world in Peru, Latin American and East Africa, were Producers Direct has over 38 partner organizations. These organizations and its members are truly inspiring as small-holder producers are not only the driving force of the cooperative values, but also the true pioneers of bottom-up and participatory principles of transformation which guide our vision of what sustainable development stands for and deeply represents our (shared) identity.

Thank you to all Cooperativistas. On the International Cooperative Day, we commemorate your hard work and celebrate the cooperative movement values that shape our own.

Covid 19 and Coffee in Uganda – Nicodemus Bamuhangaine

In an attempt to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the communities, the office of the President in Uganda came up with several regulations. These, although necessary, have affected smallholder producer’s lives, including work and financial stability.  

Nicodemus Bamuhangaine is in charge of extension and organic certification in Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union (ACPCU), a coffee producer cooperative in Uganda. He shares with us his experience and how he and his family are dealing with the current situation:

“For the temporary solution. Yes. Go farming, do agriculture. If you can access land you are not restricted in your movement to the farm area. Go and do farming! So when you have food then partly you are safe for the rest of the days. You never know, at any time when the pandemic is not longer here then you will sell food. Because you are not doing business. But in agriculture you can do fine things. Particularly me, that’s what I’m doing. Yeah. Yeah. I’m doing agriculture.”

If you want to listen to Nicodemus’ whole testimony, listen to the audio here


I’m Nicodemus Bamuhangaine. Working for Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union (ACPCU) and I’m in charge of extension and organic certification. 

I live in Mbarara in Western Uganda. 

In an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus in the communities, the office of the President came up with several regulations. These include: suspension of all public gatherings; closure of offices; closure of businesses. Then all the schools were closed, the universities suspended. All public transport was suspended. 

All these are affecting day-to-day life. All these regulations affect human life. For example, suspension of the public means of transport, even the Boda-Bodas [motorcycle taxis] which were suspended. People can’t move from one place to another. Pregnant women who want to go to hospital for delivery. It is a struggle. You first  go to the RDC [Resident District Commissioner], we have only one RDC per district who is a Presidential representative in the district. So, it is not easy for everyone to access the RDC. Many people are there. Those that fall sick, it is not easy to go to the hospital because there are no transport. 

Some offices, for example agricultural factories were kept open – they are allowed to operate. But workers don’t stay at the factories, so they need to go home, but there is no transport. Because private cars were suspended, all sorts of movement were not allowed: except a few.  The so-called ‘essential services’ like the electricity, the national water, and the government vehicles,plus the security vehicles, only. That means a civilian or a local person, it’s not easy for us to move 

Personally, these regulations has greatly affected my work. Because I rarely go to the office, much of the time I work from home – because of the limitation of the transport. I can’t move, I’m not allowed to drive, I’m not allowed to move with the Boda Boda. So, it is not easy. Only a motorcycle is allowed to move with 1 person, it is in a restricted time. By midday you should be back home. So it is not easy to ride a motorcycle from where I reside to where I work from and ensure that by midday I’m back. 

Secondly, there are other requirements that must be ensured at the workplace, which are standard operating procedures. We have reduced the number of workers, so we have few workers who can accomplish the work that should be done in a specific time. Because we have shipments sometimes, we want coffee to be sorted but it can’t be completed in a limited time because we have limited workers in an attempt to ensure the social distancing requirement. Then we have to buy the protective gears, the PPE [personal protective equipment], like the face masks, the sanitisers, all that kind of arrangement is not easy for the organisation and for us to implement. 

On the issue of the effect of the pandemic on the financial stability, this is greatly being experienced. For example my family, my wife operates a small business, merchandise. But it was closed. It is now almost 2 months. She’s not working at all, so that means she’s earning nothing. So that means the family is completely dependent on me. 

For the temporary solution. Yes. Go farming, do agriculture. If you can access land you are not restricted in your movement to the farm area. Go and do farming! So when you have food then partly you are safe for the rest of the days. You never know, at any time when the pandemic is not longer here then you will sell food. Because you are not doing business. But in agriculture you can do fine things. Particularly me, that’s what I’m doing. Yeah. Yeah. I’m doing agriculture.


Entrevista, Samuel – Huadquiña

Creemos que los jóvenes son el futuro de la agricultura y que tienen la capacidad de mejorar la calidad de vida de muchas personas en sus comunidades. Lo confirmamos tras entrevistar a Samuel Smith Pérez, un joven de la cooperativa Huadquiña, que pasa la cuarentena en su chacra en Santa Teresa, Cusco. Después de que un aluvión dejara a su comunidad casi incomunicada hace un par de meses y de que el gobierno restrinja el tránsito para contrarrestar los contagios por Covid19, su familia y su comunidad se han visto afectadas. Ya no pueden vender sus productos, como paltas, granadillas y plátanos en los mercados locales. Sin embargo, Samuel logra ver las oportunidades en medio de la crisis que vivimos mundialmente:

“Durante esta cuarentena que, sin duda representa una profunda crisis en diferentes sistemas, como el de salud, debemos ver nosotros, como productores, una oportunidad para desarrollar nuevos proyectos para mejorar la calidad de nuestro café, ya que tenemos todas las condiciones necesarias para lograrlo. Nosotros estamos buscando la forma de innovar en nuestra tecnología de procesamiento de café y desarrollando otros proyectos relacionados a la cadena de producción, con el objetivo de mejorar la calidad de nuestro producto”

Puedes oír la entrevista completa aquí:

Response to Covid-19 / Respuesta al Covid-19

Covid-19 & Global Food Systems

Looking beyond the immediate global health crisis presented by Covid-19, attention is increasingly focused on the devastating impacts of the global pandemic on the sustainability of global food systems. Rural communities have historically been hardest-hit by similar pandemics. Under-resourced health systems will struggle to respond. Social distancing and lockdowns, effective in the global North, will struggle in the global South to protect the most vulnerable, who don’t have the luxury of working from home or stocking their homes with food for 14+ days.

Safeguarding the world’s food systems is now an immediate priority. In order to do this, we must look to the experts – smallholder farmers – who produce 70% of our food. Our farmer-led model works in direct partnership with an international network of smallholder-owned farming cooperatives, women’s groups and youth groups producing a variety of crops including maize, rice, sorghum, fruits, vegetables, honey, coffee, tea, and cocoa. Our model provides end-to-end support services from farm-to-market, blending in-person and digital solutions, all designed by farmers, for farmers.

Please read our full response to the crisis and get in touch if you have any questions.

Covid-19 y los sistemas alimentarios mundiales

Mirando más allá de la inmediata crisis de salud global ocasionada por el Covid-19, la atención debe enfocarse en los efectos devastadores que esta pandemia global tendrá en la sostenibilidad de los sistemas alimentarios mundiales. Históricamente, las comunidades rurales han sido las más afectadas por epidemias mundiales como la que estamos viviendo en la actualidad. Los sistemas de salud con pocos recursos tendrán dificultades para responder. El distanciamiento social y medidas que han sido efectivas en los países del hemisferio norte, podrían generar grandes problemas en el hemisferio sur, donde muchas personas son vulnerables y no pueden darse el lujo de trabajar desde casa o abastecer sus hogares con alimentos que alcancen para más de 14 días.

La protección de los sistemas alimentarios mundiales se ha convertido en una prioridad inmediata en la agenda mundial. Nuestro modelo liderado por agricultores trabaja en asociación con una red internacional de cooperativas de pequeños agricultores, asociaciones de mujeres y grupos de jóvenes que producen una variedad de cultivos, tal como maíz, arroz, sorgo, frutas, verduras, miel, café, té y cacao. Nuestro modelo proporciona servicios de soporte desde el inicio al fin de la cadena productiva (desde la granja hasta el mercado), combinando soluciones presenciales y digitales, todas diseñadas por agricultores, para agricultores.

Lea nuestra respuesta completa a la crisis y póngase en contacto si tiene alguna pregunta.

Día Internacional de la Mujer

En el año 1975 las Naciones Unidas institucionalizó el 8 de marzo como el Día Internacional de la Mujer. De acuerdo con las Naciones Unidas, el Día Internacional de la Mujer “es un buen momento para reflexionar acerca de los avances logrados, pedir más cambios y celebrar la valentía y la determinación de las mujeres de a pie que han jugado un papel clave en la historia de sus países y comunidades.” En Producers Direct queremos compartir las historias de dos mujeres que han logrado grandes avances en cuanto a la equidad de género en sus cooperativas y comunidades en general. Ambas son parte de nuestra red de productores y productoras ¡y no podríamos estar más orgullos@s de ello!

Esperanza Dionisio rompe estereotipos como gerenta de la Cooperativa Pangoa. Ella fue la primera mujer en asumir la gerencia de una cooperativa de de café en Perú. En la actualidad, es poco común ver a una mujer asumiendo ese cargo pero, hace más de 20 años, cuando Esperanza lo hizo, era para muchos impensable. Eso no detuvo a Esperanza, por el contrario, la motivó a trabajar en la cooperativa con el objetivo de que se empiece a valorar el importante rol que cumplen las mujeres en las diferentes actividades económicas de la comunidad. Es así como en 1997 se creó el Comité de Mujeres (CODEMU) de la Cooperativa Pangoa, el cual promueve el liderazgo y el empoderamiento y las capacita para ello. El año pasado fue nombrada la primera campeona de sostenibilidad de la Specialty Coffee Association, un reconocimiento que reciben individuos que realizan un trabajo excepcional en pro de la sostenibilidad del cultivo de café en el mundo. Esperanza no es solo un orgullo para su cooperativa, lo es también para todo el Perú. 

A más de 12 mil kilómetros de distancia, en Kenia, la falta de oportunidades en actividades económicas como la agricultura es también un desafío al cual las mujeres deben enfrentarse día a día. Paired Mursi, una agricultora trabajando en cultivo de tejidos de plátano en la Cooperativa Sireet OEP, comenta que en la sociedad en la que viven, hasta hace poco no era bien visto que las mujeres realizaran trabajos en las fincas, pues debían estar cuidando a sus familias. Sin embargo, se han dado cambios en la sociedad, generados por los esfuerzos de mujeres como Esperanza, y ahora se acepta que las mujeres participen de las actividades agrícolas, permitiendo que muchas de ellas sean dueñas de sus propias fincas. Paired ha asistido a capacitaciones en el Centro de Excelencia de Creación de Microemprendimientos en Sireet, las cuales le han dado las habilidades necesarias para administrar su finca como un pequeño negocio. Gracias a ello, Paired no solo genera ingresos para su familia, gracias a la diversificación, también asegura que tengan una buena nutrición, pues consumen los productos de buena calidad que ella misma cultiva. 

Sabemos que los casos de Esperanza y Paired no son aislados. Sabemos que hay muchas mujeres alrededor del mundo luchando por una mayor equidad en la agricultura rural. ¡Las reconocemos y agradecemos en el Día Internacional de la Mujer!

International Women’s Day

In 1975, the United Nations declared March 8 as International Women’s Day. According to the UN, International Women’s Day “is a good time to reflect on the progress made, ask for more changes and celebrate the courage and determination of women who have played a key role in the history of their countries and communities.” At Producers Direct we want to share the stories of two women who have made great progress in advancing gender equality in both their cooperatives and communities in general. We are proud to include both as part of our network of producers!

Esperanza Dionisio is the pioneering manager of the cooperative, Pangoa in Peru. She was the first woman to take over the management of a coffee cooperative in Peru and it is still rare to see a woman assuming that position. But more than 20 years ago when Esperanza did it, it was almost unthinkable! That did not stop Esperanza. On the contrary, it motivated her to work her way up in the cooperative and bring their attention to the valuable role that women play in the different economic activities of the community. This is how, in 1997, the Women’s Committee (CODEMU) of the Pangoa Cooperative was created. The CODEMU  promotes women’s empowerment and provides training for women to take on leadership roles. Last year, she was named the first sustainability champion of the Specialty Coffee Association, an award received for exceptional work in sustainable coffee cultivation around the world. Esperanza is not only a source of great pride for her cooperative, but for the whole of Peru!

More than 12 thousand kilometers away, in Kenya, the lack of opportunities to participate in  economic activities, such as agriculture, is a challenge that women must face every day. Paired Mursi, a farmer working in banana tissue cultivation at the Sireet OEP Cooperative, says that it is only recently that it has become seen as acceptable for women to work on farms, because they should be taking care of their families. However, societal changes that have been pushed forward by pioneering women like Esperanza, have meant that women are now increasingly able to participate in agricultural activities. This has included many women beginning to own their own farms and managing their own businesses. To support her in developing her independent business, Paired has attended training at the Center of Excellence in Microenterprise Development in Sireet. These training sessions have given her the necessary skills to manage her farm as a small business. Thanks to this, Paired not only generates income for her family but also, thanks to her efforts to diversify, she can now ensure that they have a top level of nutrition by consuming the good quality products that she herself produces.

We know that the cases of Esperanza and Paired are not isolated. We know that there are many women around the world fighting for greater equity in rural agriculture. We would like to recognize and thank them for all their hard work on International Women’s Day!

Where is the Money in Small scale Farming?

This interview was originally posted by our Head of Programmes, Sylvia Ng’eno on her personal blog

We know there are 500 million small scale farmers worldwide and 2 billion people depend on them for their livelihoods. Growing up in a small-scale farming community in rural Kenya, the perception was one of farming for food more than farming to earn. Money came from either cash crops (tea and maize mainly) and formal office employment. It was clear that education was supposed to train you to find a job away or out of farming and farming and/or agriculture was never a career to aspire to. With this mindset, farming and/or agriculture became a last resort as a means of livelihood, the attitude towards farming and money still needs to be switched among the youth.  Farming has not been, a first exciting aspiring career choice as it does not seem well paying or even have a ‘competitive salary’ or an attractive return on investment.

You then wonder if the agribusiness movement and more focus on youth in agriculture has improved or changed these perceptions, below are responses from Agaba Kenneth, one of Producers Direct’s Uganda based youth leaders about his farming community in Kayonza, Kanungu District:

Is profits or money the motivation to farm in your community?

We have two types of farmers in my community food crop farmers who farm to get food for their homes and little for sale. Then we have a few cash crop (tea) farmers who farm to get money, pay school fees and little is left to buy food. The key motivations to farm are:

  1. Feeding families and communities: the biggest population here farm to feed their families and communities with variety of food little is produced for sale
  2. Culture and passion: others farm simply because it is what their culture requires and are sometimes passionate about farming
  3. Farming inventions, innovations and research also makes farmers farm and this is done by few and rich farmers and research institutions
  4. Environmental conservation: By farming, some farmers aim at protecting the environment, for example fish farming in swamps as a conservation method.

Do you think being a cash crop farmer is a lucrative agribusiness?

Being a cash crop farmer is only lucrative to rich farmers because, it requires large land sizes and a lot of capital and in most cases involves both labour- and capital-intensive techniques of production, and there are very few such farmer in my community.Smallholder farmers who deal in tea only looks to it as the source of a consistent monthly income and do not get enough money to diversify to other income sources, this makes them poor amidst their engagement in cash crop farming. Most of the cash crop income is used to buy food and little is left for other needs.According to me, farmers should also invest in food crops by starting small getting inspired and educated in that farm micro enterprise and then, look for advanced methods to make money consistently, for example, contract farming, as cash crop farming is only lucrative with large land sizes and advanced use of technology which small-scale farmers cannot afford.

Are youth into cash crop (coffee/tea) farming than other farming activities?

I am a member of youth platform that has registered only 24 youth in coffee and tea farming and most of them either inherited the cash crop from their fathers or bought land with cash crops from farmers who were moving to other parts of Uganda. The rest of the youth on the platform, 376 in total, are into other farm micro enterprises; horticulture, livestock and apiary farming. I have seen the development of a generation of innovative farms and farming techniques that shifts the farming perspective to putting money in the pockets first and food on tables. Agriculture now requires investments in research, knowledge exchange and partnerships to get a good return on investment. This is a different farming generation that has patience and passion acquired through trainings, record keeping, research and learning.

Celebrating World Radio Day

Leer en Español abajo.

Radio is a powerful means of communication that allows you to celebrate diversity. It is a democratic platform that allows everyone to have their say. Worldwide, radio remains the most consumed means of communication. This unique ability of the radio to reach a wide audience allows for myriad opinions to be expressed, represented and heard. Radio stations around the world serve different communities, offering diverse content and views, thus reflecting the diversity of their audiences.

In 2011, UNESCO proclaimed February 13 as World Radio Day and at Producers Direct we are taking this opportunity to highlight the excellent work that our partner cooperatives do using the unique opportunities that radio provides.

In Peru, for example, for cooperatives, radio is the most effective way to communicate with producers: it is direct, fast and reaches all, or the vast majority of farms. Thus, cooperatives, through their education committees together with youth groups and technical teams have found radio to be a powerful tool to encourage producers to implement practices on their farms, as well as to share knowledge and experiences first hand.

Great examples of this can be found at two of our partners: Huadquiña in Cusco; and Chirinos in Jaén. The radio studios that these cooperatives manage, have allocated sections so that young people – often the sons and daughters of members – and the members themselves have a space to share their experiences and knowledge gained at the Centers of Excellence. In this way, the radio has become a key media for the transfer of information and knowledge from producer to producer, as well as encouraging the participation of producers in the workshops of the cooperative for the adoption of practices that improve their production and quality of life.

Radio amongst our East Africa network is arguably even more important. Surveys carried out by Producers Direct have shown that around 50% of farmers value it as the best source of information. As smartphone uptake is still slow in many rural regions, radio can uniquely reach a large audience across largely unconnected rural areas.

For that reason RSTGA, our largest Centre of Excellence – in terms of size and membership, set up its own radio station (Radio Chai FM) in 2015. Chai FM has a huge listener base of 500,000 people crossing a vast region in Tanzania. As well as offering training on agricultural techniques, entrepreneurship and business skills, Chai FM has worked on promoting a variety of awareness programmes (e.g. on HIV/AIDs, gender). It also worked to facilitate the engagement of youth in agricultural production and agribusinesses in the region. This is very important to a rural community looking to encourage youth people to get involved and contribute to the rural economy.

RSTGA CEO and Producers Direct Chairman, Lebi Hudson said:

“Through special offers and business advertisements, we have used Chai FM to  attract more youth to engage themselves into agribusiness hence contribute into reduction of the unemployment problem.”

Technology is certainly beginning to move on, and many see that radio is becoming an increasingly outmoded form of technology. However, while young people are still picking up microphones and share experiences with communities that otherwise lack many modern communications devices, we still see it is a vitally important piece of technology that we hope will continue to support farmers to improve their livelihoods for years to come.

La radio es un medio de comunicación potente que permite celebrar la diversidad. Es una plataforma democrática en la cual todos pueden dar su discurso. A nivel mundial, la radio sigue siendo el medio de comunicación más consumido. Esta capacidad única que tiene la radio para llegar a una audiencia amplia significa que esta puede ser un escenario para que todas las voces de expresen, sean representadas y oídas. Las estaciones de radio deben servir a diferentes comunidades, ofreciendo contenido y puntos de vista diversos, reflejando así la diversidad de sus audiencias.

En el 2011 la UNESCO proclamó el 13 de febrero como el Día Mundial de la Radio y desde Producers Direct aprovechamos la oportunidad para resaltar el excelente trabajo que nuestras cooperativas socias realizan utilizando la radio como aliada.

En Perú, por ejemplo, para las cooperativas la radio es el medio más eficaz para comunicarse con los productores(as): es directo, rápido y llega a todas, o a la gran mayoría de fincas. Es así que las cooperativas, a través de sus comités de educación junto con los grupos de jóvenes y equipos técnicos han encontrado en ella una herramienta potente para incentivar la implementación de prácticas en las fincas de los productores, compartiendo conocimientos y experiencias de primera mano.

Este ha sido el caso de la C.A.C. Huadquiña en Cusco y la C.A.C. La Prosperidad de Chirinos en Jaén, quienes a partir de los espacios de radio que la misma cooperativa gestiona, han destinado secciones para que los jóvenes, hijos e hijas de socios/as, y los mismos socios y socias tengan un espacio para compartir con sus pares lo experimentado y aprendido en los Centros de Excelencia. De este modo, la radio se convirtió en una aliada para la transferencia de información y conocimientos de productor a productor, así como incentivar la participación de los productores/as en los talleres de la cooperativa para la adopción de prácticas que mejoren su producción y calidad de vida.

La radio en nuestra red de África Oriental es incluso más importante. Las encuesta realizadas por Producers Direct han mostrado que alrededor del 50% de los agricultores lo valoran como la mejor fuente de información. Como el uso de teléfonos inteligentes sigue siendo lento en muchas regiones rurales, únicamente la radio puede alcanzar una gran audiencia en áreas rurales mayoritariamente desconectadas.

Por esa razón, RSTGA, nuestro mayor Centro de Excelencia, en cuanto a términos de tamaño y membresía, estableció su propia estación de radio (Radio Chai FM) en 2015. Chai FM tiene una enorme base de oyentes de 500,000 personas que atraviesan una gran región en Tanzania. Además de ofrecer capacitación en técnicas agrícolas, emprendimiento y habilidades comerciales, Chai FM ha trabajado en la promoción de una variedad de programas de sensibilización (por ejemplo, sobre VIH / SIDA, género). También se encargó de facilitar la participación de los jóvenes en la producción agrícola y los agronegocios en la región. Esto es muy importante para una comunidad rural que busca alentar a los jóvenes a involucrarse y contribuir con la economía rural.

El director de RSTGA y presidente de Producers Direct, Lebi Hudson, dijo:

“A través de ofertas especiales y anuncios comerciales hemos utilizado Chai FM para atraer a más jóvenes a participar en los agronegocios y, por lo tanto, contribuir en la reducción del problema del desempleo.”

Ciertamente la tecnología está comenzando a avanzar, y muchos ven que la radio se está convirtiendo en una forma de tecnología cada vez más anticuada. Sin embargo, mientras los jóvenes todavía están tomando micrófonos y comparten experiencias con comunidades que de otra manera carecería de muchos dispositivos de comunicación modernos, todavía vemos que es una pieza de tecnología de vital importancia que esperamos continúe apoyando a los agricultores para mejorar sus medios de vida en los próximos años.

Aniversario Chirinos

¡Felicidades! Este 28 de febrero nuestra cooperativa socia La Prosperidad de Chirinos cumple 52 años desde su creación. 

Con más de 700 miembros, la Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera La Prosperidad de Chirinos desempeña un rol dinamizador de la economía de Jaén y de la región Cajamarca. Gracias a las características geográficas y climáticas de la zona, así como el esfuerzo de sus miembros, el café producido por los agricultores y agricultoras de la cooperativa es de gran calidad, habiendo logrado presencia en el mercado nacional e internacional. Este 28 de febrero La Prosperidad de Chirinos celebra 52 años desde su creación, y queremos felicitar a todos y todas sus miembros.

También queremos agradecerles por dejarnos ser parte de sus logros y trabajar de cerca a través del Centro de Excelencia en Calidad de Café. Hace algunos años elegimos a la CAC La Prosperidad de Chirinos como los socios idóneos para el desarrollo de este Centro de Excelencia, no solo por la gran calidad de su café, también por el gran empeño de sus miembros en las tareas que realizan. Hoy en día, hemos co-desarrollado 7 sitios demostrativos en los cuales agricultores y agricultoras de otras zonas pueden aprender técnicas para mejorar la calidad de su café. Los programas en el Centro de Excelencia en Calidad de Café son brindados por productores(as) para productores(as), dándoles la oportunidad de conversar sobre soluciones a problemas que ellos y ellas mismas enfrentan. Algunos de los temas tratados son manejo de plagas, rehabilitación de terrenos, manejo de microorganismos, cosecha de agua y riego por goteo, técnicas de cosecha y postcosecha, entre otros. 

Esperamos poder seguir trabajando de la mano con la CAC Chirinos por muchos años más y les deseamos muchos éxitos en todos los proyectos que emprendan en este nuevo año. 

Congratulations! This February 28, our cooperative partner La Prosperidad de Chirinos turns 52!

With more than 700 members, the Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera La Prosperidad de Chirinos plays a dynamic role in the economy of Jaén and the Cajamarca region in Northern Peru. Thanks to the geographical and climatic characteristics of the area, as well as the efforts of its members, the coffee produced by the cooperative’s farmers is of high quality, having achieved a presence in the national and international market. This February 28, Chirinos celebrates 52 years since its creation, and we want to congratulate all its members.


We also want to thank you for letting us be part of your achievements and working closely through the Center for Excellence in Coffee Quality.  We chose Chirinos as the ideal location for the development of this Center of Excellence, not only because of the high quality of its coffee, but also because of the great commitment of its members. Today, we have co-developed 7 demonstration sites at which farmers from across Peru can learn techniques to improve the quality of their coffee. The services at the Center for Excellence in Coffee Quality are provided by farmers for farmers, giving them the opportunity to discuss solutions to problems that they themselves face. For example demonstration sites have been set up around topics such as: pest management, land rehabilitation, microorganism management, water harvesting and drip irrigation, harvest and post-harvest techniques, among many others.

We look forward to continuing to work hand in hand with the Chirinos for many more years and wish them many successes in all the projects they undertake this year.

‘Youth in agribusiness’ Convention: December 2019

Written by Valerie Anemba

Young people around the world play a critical role in the future of agriculture. According to the FAO, 60% of the global population depend on agriculture for survival. However, the average age of farmers in the world is currently around 60 years old. At Producers Direct, we aim to encourage and support youth networks from across our Centre of Excellence (CoE) to be involved in agribusiness activities. This can help to change young people’s negative perception of farming, whilst also motivating them to become young entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector. In this regard, the CoE youth network at Kayonza in collaboration with Producers Direct, organized a ‘youth in agribusiness’ convention. With an overall objective of motivating youth into joining agribusiness for sustainable development, the convention sought to reinforce the participation of young women and men at the local level to become meaningful actors of agricultural transformation.

The convention was a 7-day event in south-western Uganda that brought together 25 youths from across East Africa. The event commenced with an inspirational forum at Kayonza and afterwards they travelled to Bushenyi district for farm and factory tours, finally travelling back to Kayonza for a regional policy forum. The youth participated in various activities, including a farmer-led training on farm diversification innovations and space utilizations. Through these training sessions, the participants were shown how they could grow diverse crops and enterprises on small acres of land. They visited organizations such as NIFADEC (Ntungamo Intergrated Farm and Diversification Centre) which is a family-owned farm that inspires farmers to diversify in different enterprises, especially, the adoption of coffee farm management and planning.


Additionally, they toured the ACPCU factory where they learnt about the coffee value chain, coffee-cupping and the involvement of youth and women in coffee farming. Furthermore, they went for a farm visit to an ACPCU promoter farmer’s farm, where they participated in a practical training regarding climate-smart agribusiness such as using biogas as a renewable source of green energy and as a high-quality organic fertilizer as well as using the bio-slurry as manure, which is much more beneficial than ordinary manure, as its odorless and pest-repellent. The youth learnt that through climate-smart farming they can attain greater yields using less farm space and money.

The event concluded with a regional policy convention that was attended by community leaders and highlighted the overview of the status quo of youth engagement in agribusiness, at Kanungu district. The youths also shared their success stories as young farmers and launched an agribusiness campaign dubbed “putting food on the table and money in the pocket”. 

In conclusion, the ‘youth in agribusiness’ convention was very successful in achieving its objective of encouraging youth involvement in agribusiness. Their exposure to diverse innovative agricultural enterprises, crop-diversification, and climate-smart agribusiness, has helped to inspire them to discover ways that they can play key roles in sustaining and modernizing the agricultural sector. The convention has given these young agripreneurs the impetus to interact and encourage other youths in their own communities to change their perception about farming. They can now share their own success stories and prove that agribusiness is a great source of income and employment among young people. As stated by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the 2017 World Food Prize laureate, ‘the future of African youths lies in agriculture’.

Jóvenes en la agricultura peruana: la pieza clave para el desarrollo sostenible del sector. 

Jóvenes en la agricultura peruana: la pieza clave para el desarrollo sostenible del sector. 

(For the version in English please see below)

Escrito por Talia Lostaunau 

Rosario se acerca sin apuro a la mesa cubierta por pequeños bowls con café molido. Se detiene unos segundos sobre cada muestra, absorbiendo su aroma. Echa agua caliente sobre cada una y una mezcla de deliciosos olores invade el laboratorio de catación. Rosario coge dos cucharas y extrae una pequeña capa superficial del líquido. Lleva el café concentrado hacia su boca. Lo saborea.“Este es nuestro café,” dice, mostrando total seguridad en su rostro. “Lo puedo reconocer por su sabor y aroma acaramelado.” Todos en la sala quedan impresionados y, tras unos segundos, confirman que la muestra pertenece a la cooperativa Huadquiña, a la cual Rosario representa. 

Rosario Salas trabaja como Q grader en la cooperativa Huadquiña, en Cusco. Ella es encargada de que los estándares de calidad del café que exporta la cooperativa sean los requeridos por sus compradores a nivel internacional. A pesar de que Rosario realmente disfruta su trabajo, sabe que es una de las pocas jóvenes que han decidido mantenerse en el rubro agrícola. Muchos de los jóvenes que nacieron en zonas rurales, hijos de pequeños productores, no ven la actividad agrícola como rentable y deciden migrar hacia las ciudades en búsqueda de oportunidades laborales que muchas veces son difíciles de encontrar. 

Las cifras son claras. De acuerdo al Censo Nacional de Población 2017, más del 51% de los peruanos tiene menos de 30 años, sin embargo, tan solo el 12% de los agricultores en el país tiene menos de 30 años (de acuerdo al último Censo Nacional Agropecuario, 2012). El futuro de la actividad agrícola está en riesgo, así como el futuro de los jóvenes, quienes enfrentan situaciones de subempleo y desempleo.

En mayo de 2019, Producers Direct llevó a cabo su reunión anual en Pangoa, a la cual asistieron representantes de 6 de las 9 cooperativas cafetaleras que conforman su red. En dicha reunión se exploró los problemas a los que se enfrentan las cooperativas, identificando como uno de los más urgentes la falta de involucramiento de los jóvenes. El equipo de Producers Direct decidió que era de suma importancia seguir trabajando con los jóvenes en Perú. Para ello, ha decidido integrar a su modelo basado en Centros de Excelencia las innovadoras herramientas digitales que han venido piloteando durante el último año en África. Estas herramientas permiten que los pequeños productores ingresen data sobre su productividad en diferentes cultivos, la cual más tarde será accesible para que ellos mismos puedan tomar decisiones basadas en información. Los jóvenes juegan un rol clave en el uso y difusión de las herramientas, dándoles la oportunidad de tener un empleo formal y motivador. 

Las herramientas digitales integradas a los Centros de Excelencia son solo un camino para lograr el involucramiento los jóvenes. El caso de Rosario fue diferente, pero también muy interesante. Ella estudió Industrias Alimentarias en la Universidad Nacional Agraria de la Selva y, tras terminar la carrera, decidió volver a su comunidad, pues la cooperativa Huadquiña le ofreció un empleo formal y la posibilidad de seguir capacitándose para crecer profesionalmente. Rosario ni siquiera lo tenía entre sus metas antes y, ahora, es una Q grader certificada. “Estoy feliz de que la cooperativa Huadquiña me haya dado la oportunidad de trabajar y ahora estoy contribuyendo al desarrollo de mi comunidad en Santa Teresa, Cusco,” cuenta Rosario.

Si quieres conocer más sobre el trabajo de Rosario, puedes ver este video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrSkufYL1og


Young people in Peruvian agriculture: the key piece for the sustainable development of the sector.

Written by Talia Lostaunau 

Rosario walks casually over to the table covered by small bowls with ground coffee. She stops a few seconds on each sample, absorbing its aroma. She pours hot water on each and a mixture of delicious smells fill the laboratory. Rosario takes two spoons and removes a small surface layer of the liquid, brings the concentrated coffee to her mouth and tastes it. “This is our coffee,” she says, completely confident in her claim. “I can recognize it for its sweet flavor and aroma.” Everyone in the room is impressed and, after a few seconds, they confirm that the sample belongs to the Huadquiña cooperative, which Rosario represents.

Rosario Salas works as a Q grader at the Huadquiña cooperative in Cusco. She is responsible for ensuring that the quality standards of the coffee exported by the cooperative match those required by its international buyers. Although Rosario really enjoys her job, she knows that she is one of the few young people who have decided to stay in the agricultural sector. Many of the young people who were born in rural areas, children of smallholder farmers, do not see agricultural activity as profitable and decide to migrate to cities in search of job opportunities that are often difficult to find.

The figures are clear. According to the 2017 National Population Census, more than 51% of Peruvians are under 30 years old, however, only 12% of farmers in the country are under 30 years old (according to the last National Agricultural Census, 2012). The future of agricultural activity is at risk, as is the future of young people, who face under- and unemployment.

In May 2019, Producers Direct held its annual meeting in Pangoa, which was attended by representatives of 6 of the 9 coffee cooperatives that make up its network. At that meeting, the problems faced by cooperatives were explored, identifying as one of the most urgent the lack of involvement of young people. The Producers Direct team decided that it was very important to continue working with young people in Peru. To this end, it has decided to integrate the innovative digital tools that have been piloted in Africa over the past year. These tools allow small producers to enter data on their productivity in different crops, which will later be aggregated and made accessible so that they themselves can make decisions based on the information. Young people play a key role in the use and dissemination of tools, giving them the opportunity to have a formal and motivating job.

The digital tools integrated into the Centers of Excellence are only one way to get young people involved. Rosario’s case was different, but also very interesting. She studied Food Industries at the National Agrarian University of La Selva and, after finishing the degree, decided to return to her community, since the Huadquiña cooperative offered her a formal job and the possibility of continuing to train to grow professionally. Rosario didn’t even have it among her goals before and, now, she is a certified Q grader. “I am happy that the Huadquiña cooperative has given me the opportunity to work and now I am contributing to the development of my community in Santa Teresa, Cusco,” Rosario says.

If you want to know more about Rosario’s work, you can watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrSkufYL1og