Networking Farmers

September 9, 2014

The mission and overall objective of Agri-ProFocus (APF) is to create spaces and opportunities for multi-stakeholder action and learning possibilities about the enhancement of entrepreneurship among organised farmers.

The network promotes farmer entrepreneurship in the East Africa region by supporting farming as a business initiative with the aim of building partnerships, linkages and innovations. The farmers targeted will be expected to spread their knowledge to other farmers in the region.

Maureen Munjua is a co-coordinator with Agri-Profocus. “Farmer entrepreneurship is the underlying principle under which Agri-ProFocus was formed. We implement through our members. Our role is provide a platform for all the key stakeholders in the respective agricultural sectors and include farmers through farmers associations and cooperatives. We work at a level just above the individual farmers so as to promote farming as a business.”

Maureen notes that there is a change from both the donors and farmers in how they conduct business. Partners are steering away from simply supporting capacity building activities and are keen to work with farmers who are entrepreneurial. Furthermore, through the farmer trade fairs that the platform hosts, there are reports that the farmers, too, are changing in how they conduct their agrarian or husbandry activities.

Hivos is one of the founding members of the Dutch–rooted Agri-Profocus network and has been at the start of a number of country-based networks, called Agri-Hubs. Hivos has supported the development and growth of the Agri-Hubs with financial contributions and importantly, time contribution and participation in the Agri-Hubs’ coordination and activities. Hivos supports APF because of its importance in strengthening agriculture and its potential to improve small-scale producers’ livelihood and income by improved production and access to international and local markets.

The recently launched Grain, Fish, Money – Financing Africa’s Green and Blue Revolutions report states, “The unacceptable reality is that too many African farmers still use methods handed down from generation to generation, working their lands or grazing their animals much as their ancestors have done for millennia”. However, Maureen points out that an increasing number of farmers In Kenya are beginning to move from traditional subsistence crops to high-value crops that provide at most three harvests and additional income.  Moves are being made through APF’s work to ensure that all those involved in the value-chain end up being winners.

APF is currently working in 12 African countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique, DR Congo, Niger, Benin and Mali.