Three years of pilot action

Established in 1996, CGA, the national umbrella organization of Kenyan cereal farmers, has embarked on a new strategic phase in 2015 to improve the quality of services to its members, its sustainability and the effectiveness of its advocacy work on behalf of farmers with government and the private sector. Fert is supporting CGA in the development of this new strategy which, between 2016 and 2018, has started a pilot operational phase in two counties (Narok and Nakuru).

Including more than 1,000 small family farms, but also medium and large farms for certain activities, the pilot action carried out over these three years has enabled CGA to validate the local structuring hypotheses and to refine the pilot services. Thus in 2019, Fert and CGA decided to geographically extend the action to the three new counties of Uasin Gishu, Laikipia and Meru.

A redefined service offering

CGA’s new offer to its members is implemented by county coordinators with grassroots groups and local chapters (cantons and counties) and is based on the following 4 types of services :

  • Technical services involving the direct guidance/advice of the base groups by the coordinators, the setting up of test platforms in farming areas, the organisation of technical days and the training/guidance of relay farmers capable of providing local advice to the members in their area;
  • Economic services with the development of mechanisms for grouped input purchases, marketing, access to financial services, soil analysis … ;
  • Information services enabling leaders and members to have key information about their sector and access to weather information;
  • Representation services at the local level by setting up a local structure and governance and training and coaching local leaders in their new functions. At the national level, through the conduct of studies and lobbying or negotiation campaigns on key issues in the sector (market prices, taxes, etc.).

Operational principles for deployment in the 3 new counties, and more widely …

All of these services were tested by CGA simultaneously in a four-step process:

In 2019, when the time came to launch services in the new counties, CGA and Fert initiated a reflection in order to capitalize on the lessons of this first phase, with the objective of :

  • Train the new coordinators recruited for the enlargement to the new areas;
  • Take stock of what has helped and what has been lacking in the development of the action;
  • Define the operational principles for the implementation of the CGA strategy in the counties.

A capitalization workshop, bringing together the CGA and Fert teams, made it possible to carry out this reflection and to define the operational principles, including, for example :

  1. Putting in place concrete activities and services before structuring: the implementation of the first activities is an integral part of the diagnostic process of the grassroots groups and can enable the re-evaluation of their needs. In addition, it should allow CGA and its members to get to know each other.
  2. Seek progressiveness: Identifying local leaders is a process that takes time. While essential to mobilizing members, electing members too early can often lead to inappropriate choices about the commitment and real motivations of leaders.
  3. Train and support county coordinators: the importance of framing, from the outset, the roles and responsibilities in the implementation of testing platforms and/or services, as well as the role of CGA with its members in a context very marked by the “project mentality”, requires appropriate pedagogical and facilitation skills on the part of the coordinators and on which CGA must provide support.

Prospects for CGA

In early 2019, the launch of activities in the new counties is already a testament to CGA learning, given the rapid implementation of concrete actions with grassroots groups.

However, care will have to be taken to remain attentive to members so as not to fall into the trap of applying a turnkey method. The creation, within CGA, from July 2020, of a “training/experimentation” unit will moreover make it possible to amplify the dissemination of good practices and to organize the improvement of the skills and know-how of CGA teams, its relay farmers and its leaders in all the counties where it intervenes.