For African smallholders, necessity drives innovation and entrepreneurship. Smallholders share challenges such as managing farming practices and natural resources in a sustainable way, increasing incomes and mitigating climate change. Although addressing these challenges on low budgets and with limited access to support is difficult, a diverse range of innovations are developed by farmers. Despite this richness of entrepreneurial ideas and approaches, smallholders are rarely recognised as innovators with valuable expertise to share.
Our 4-year project fills a significant gap in the market by establishing a model for developing and scaling a farmer-farmer extension service, driven by the needs and priorities of smallholders. Activities will build on achievements and lessons learned from CPF investment in producer-led programmes with smallholder organisations over the past 5 years.
Three organisations will act as ‘Centres of Excellence,’ promoting innovation amongst a wider group of ten coffee and tea cooperatives from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and building capacity through training-of-the trainer and farmer-promoter approaches. Smallholders will be supported to share information in person and remotely through WeFarm. This will result in a sustainable support model which enables African producers to improve their knowledge, decision-making skills and livelihoods.
We are nearly halfway through this project and encouraged to see the model building pride and confidence among smallholders, who are active leaders and experts empowered to share innovations and lead training events benefiting other farmers.