Kenya AE Hub 3: Supporting FRN Priorities

Lead Organization:

IDEMS International Community Interest Company

Partner Organizations:

CCRP projects and core hub members Drylands FRN, FRN-NGO, RECODA FRN, PKWI FRN, VEDCO FRN, NARO Sorghum, and KALRO MLP; also projects Cross-Cutting Soils, Multipurpose Legumes, and Botanical projects; NGOs and CBOs, including (county or town with organization) Bungoma (SADI, VI), Busia (BERMA, SINGI, Transcom), Homa Bay (DIG, Practical Action, Trees for the Future), Kisumu (Practical Action, Trees for the Future, CREPP, Migori (ACEP, CMAD, Rural FRN), Siaya (Tembea Youth), Thika (GBIAK, RODI), Trans Nzoia (CMAP, Kipsaina Cranes and Wetlands Conservation Group, Thrive, SMART), Vihiga (SOFDI), and West Pokot (SMART); Innodems; Kenyan government organizations KALRO and Trans Nzoia MOA; Manor House Agricultural Center (MHAC); PELUM Kenya; Busitema University, Cornell University, and Maseno University

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa






The team’s 2018 scoping study provided a wealth of information on smallholder agriculture in western Kenya. The study involved 10 focus group discussions in which separate groups of male and female farmers described their major agricultural challenges, plus scores of interviews with counties’ government departments and discoverable NGOs/CBOs dealing with agriculture and the environment to determine the interventions, activities, or projects they undertake to address farmer challenges.

Focus group results were remarkably consistent. Farmers paint a picture of smallholder agriculture in extreme crisis. Soil degradation-related problems are the norm as is failure to generate any real income from agriculture. Increasingly erratic weather and pernicious agricultural pests and diseases, such as Striga and fall armyworm, interact with soil degradation to exacerbate reduced agricultural productivity and growing household poverty. At the household level, women express frustration that managing these burdens falls disproportionately to them even as their husbands typically shut them out of household decision making and access to household income.

Local governments’ activities and plans focus almost exclusively on conventional industrial agriculture strategies, usually offering subsidies on agrochemicals—a drop in the bucket since few farmers receive them. Demand-driven extension—where farmers are expected to request extension staff services when they need help rather than extension trying to reach them proactively—does not work for farmers, who generally cannot afford extension agents’ visits (transportation and/or lunch).

With the possible exception of income generation, NGOs/CBOs seem to offer more diverse and relevant options than county governments and be more in tune with farmers’ biophysical and economic contexts. Almost all NGOs/CBOs taught farmers how to use locally available resources to make composts and liquid fertilizers, stressing the soil-plant health relationship. NGOs/CBOs all but universally promote a risk-reducing crop diversification strategy versus county MOA programs’ emphasis on specialization. They also emphasize more resilient drought-tolerant crops.

However, across counties, between NGOs there is less diversity in terms of the interventions promoted for soil, climate, and pest control challenges. Most NGOs/CBOs recommend pest control practices unvalidated by research and possibly ineffective; use a technology-transfer, training by teaching, or demo approach, which does not seem to lead to farmer adoption of more complex interventions; and work with relatively few farmer groups.

Grant Aims:

The first goal is to support an AE hub that provides tangible, consistent value to a diverse, inclusive hub CoP whose members contribute to AE transformation for smallholder farmers.

Specifically, the project seeks to:

  1. Provide demand-driven, evidence-based information about relevant AE practices.
  2. Recruit AE scientists and students to be part of ongoing social learning cycles and future hub activities.
  3. Strengthen CoP members’ capacities to expand and improve upon hub activities through provision of demand-driven trainings, workshops, and experiential learning opportunities.
  4. Investigate (create, test, and share) processes that contribute to successful outcomes in:
    • Community building of AE science, movement, and practice actors
    • Social learning cycles related to farmers’ key agricultural challenges and research and outreach on AE options to address them
    • Support for farmer innovation and experimentation around AE options, organizations aiming to implement FRNs, data processes for impact-oriented research studies, and transdisciplinary student experiences to inspire and recruit the next generation to work across disciplines on key local challenge
  5. Develop physical hub’s workshop-related infrastructure (accommodation facilities and AE research and demonstration farm) according to site development plan and resource availability.

The second goal is to have farmers using AE practices that are successful in their contexts.

Specifically, the project seeks to:

  1. Focus on AE practices that effectively address farmers’ key challenges and are within their reach to implement.
  2. Socialize local and global knowledge and experiences related to practices.
  3. Enable CoP partners to harness FRN approaches to identify effective versus ineffective AE practices in different contexts.
  4. Improve partners’ access to high-quality information about effective AE practices and strategies that address farmer challenges.

The third goal is to bridge gaps between AE science, movement, and practice actors.

Specifically, the project seeks to:

  1. Socialize CCRP principles and key AE science, movement, and practice concepts at hub convenings.
  2. Provide opportunities for actors to share AE-related experiences, knowledge, and ideas.
  3. Facilitate all hub member types to participate in social learning cycles and other
  4. capacity-strengthening activities.

The fourth goal is to prepare local partners to assume hub leadership roles.

Specifically, the project seeks to:

  1. Mentor local partners.
  2. Devolve responsibilities and resources to partners.
  3. Facilitate opportunities for local partners to obtain relevant skills, knowledge, and experiences.

Outputs and Outcomes:


  • Reports and publications documenting effective AE practices and hub and FRN processes
  • Videos, fact sheets, and web pages on learning resources relevant to focal AE practices and related concepts
  • Tools/resources for developing capacity in FRN approaches


  • Effective AE practices identified for specific environments
  • Benefits of effective AE practices manifest on steadily growing numbers of smallholder farms in focal counties.
  • Evidence-based information about AE concepts and practices more widely available and accessed
  • FRN approaches adopted by broader range of hub partners