Manor House Agricultural Centre (MHAC) in northwest Kenya has long served as a farmer training center for organic agriculture but had become relatively inactive in recent years. In 2018, an inception grant enabled the start-up social enterprise IDEMS (Innovations in Development, Education, and the Mathematical Sciences) to initiate an agroecology hub at MHAC. The team held an inception meeting and developed a vision for a vibrant community of agroecology practitioners physically based at MHAC. The hub intends to link agroecology science, practice, and movement, and will be guided by principles, values, and ideas held in common with the CCRP. The alignment traces in part to the project’s proposed leader, Beth Medvecky, PhD, who had served as the regional liaison scientist for the former Eastern Africa community of practice (CoP) and has long-standing ties to MHAC. The inception period enabled the hub project to host a series of capacity strengthening events and initiate research activities connected with the CCRP’s regional CoP.
This would be one of three hubs in the combined ESAf CoP, the other two being newly established at universities in Tanzania and Malawi. The university-based hubs are naturally more focused on the science of agroecology and degree training a new generation of scientists with an agroecological orientation. The MHAC hub is more oriented toward farmers and the organizations that support them and advance the agroecology movement. IDEMS currently leads the project, which to date involves three non-Africans with deep roots in the region. During the proposed project phase, the IDEMS team will work to strengthen the local MHAC team’s capacities to assume responsibility for managing the hub in the future.
The CCRP endeavors to support smallholder farmers to shift toward more sustainable approaches based on agroecological principles and practices that can collectively transform systems health. The concept of AEI hubs is an emerging strategy to support the capacity strengthening needed to facilitate place-based change. Proposed is a first full funding phase for this hub following a successful inception period. The agroecology hub at MHAC is advancing a vision of an anchor facility to coordinate various training events and host research endeavors of relevance to local farming communities and the organizations that support them. Given its long history, MHAC is linked with a large network of organizations involved in organic farming, such as the PELUM (Participatory Ecological Land Use Management) network in Kenya. The proposed project would support a renaissance for MHAC, with its hub stimulating a dynamic regional effort to support AEI.
Outputs and Outcomes:
Learning resources relevant to focal AE practices and related concepts
Learning cycle reports
Documentation of effective versus less effective hub and FRN processes
Value creation stories of CoP members
Research reports and publications
Student blogs/reflection papers
Relevant and evidence-based information about AE concepts and practices are more widely available and accessed.
FRN approaches are adopted by a broader range of hub partners.
CoP members will have the ability to include hub-focal AE practices in their AE repertoire.
CoP members are more concerned about the evidence base of AE practices.
Benefits of effective AE practices are manifest on steadily growing numbers of smallholder farms in focal counties.
Science, practice, and movement partners communicate with one another more effectively and join together to work toward common goals.
Involvement in hub activities contributes to enhanced effectiveness of its members’ AE efforts.
Students are inspired to pursue career goals that grow out of their hub experiences.
Hub leadership becomes regionalized to local partners that have the skills and motivation to provide effective leadership.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released the Agroecology Knowledge Hub (AKH) in November 2016. “Agroecology is based on applying ecological concepts and principles to optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food […]
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)