From April to September 2017, Oceane, Master’s student at the IRC Montpellier SupAgro, and Judith Jerop Kipchumba, a student in the Master’s degree in Agro-Entrepreneurship in Everton University, have conducted a study for CGA – Cereals growers association, supported by Fert since 2015 – in two counties of Kenya. The purpose was to analyze operating systems to help CGA better understand the needs of its members, and to define a differentiated offer of services.

The two students and their supervisors at CGA and Fert feedback to this experience and do not hide their satisfaction.

Judith Jerop Kipchumba, étudiante à l’université d’Everton en MSc Agri-enterprise Development :

“It was an honor to be part of binomial study cared out by Cereal Growers Association (CGA) in partnership with Fert. It was interesting and enjoyable period in which I was able gain a lot of knowledge, skills and experience through interaction with the crew, farmers and more especially my twin Océane. Exchanging ideas from the different schools of thought led to the achievement we made and the results we got. It was a wise idea to have a binomial study, thanks to the organizers. Besides ideas, she was a constant source of encouragement and motivation owing the work load we need. I was also able to learn a bit of French, we exchanged our foods, culture and adventure the country together. This had its share of challenges too, language barrier when it came to farmers, I had to translate both to the farmer and my twin, it was tedious and this led to the interviews taking longer than usually. Nevertheless, I am happy we did it. 

Learning is a continuous process and two is better than one, I got the true meaning of these two sayings during my internship period. CGA and Fert partnership was not only beneficial to us in our study but also to the farmers, the training on cash flow management and even giving feedback or the results of the study to them. They were able to appreciate the time we took with and also learn in the process. Indeed ‘Together We Grow’.”

Océane Frey, Master student Moquas – Markets, Organizations, Quality, Services in Southern Farms – at IRC Montpellier SupAgro :

“On my side, one of the challenges of this professional experience was linguistic because in Kenya, people speak English. The working pair has proved to be an excellent springboard to facilitate my learning and further training in this language. Judith was very patient and understanding as soon as I arrived, her attention was decisive for me to feel quickly at ease in English, and on the work team. This diversity has also been a richness in the work, the pair has strengthened our respective skills in the study service by sharing our knowledge, our work references or understanding the realities on the ground. These stages of work have not always been easy because we have each had to adapt to the other and to the context, to understand each other, to adopt new working methods and to explain clearly and simply the choice, the usefulness, the relevance and the use of tools that the other did not master. In the field, Judith had to don two hats because in addition to conducting the study, she provided translation Kiswahili-English, a tedious job she managed to lead with tact, adapting to each situation! Teamwork allowed us to prepare more quickly for certain unexpected work situations or debriefing “hot” after an appointment and so “to ripen” an idea, an observation effectively. The supervision of Fert and CGA also allowed two perspectives on the work and a follow-up adapted on two levels. CGA’s advice made wise decisions throughout the study, while Fert gave us a more “outside” look, which was critical to strengthening our results and analysis while taking a step back from the work we did. Working in pairs also helped to manage the workload throughout the study with motivation and good humor in our case.

Beyond the professional, Judith was my roommate and especially a great friend. Our good agreement facilitated the general progress of the study. Our curiosity for each other’s culture was helpful at work but also allowed us to share some wonderful moments! Judith has fully participated in my cultural integration. Learning Kiswahili for me and French for her helped to connect with the whole team. Our discussions and exchanges allowed me to identify and understand codes, to respect at work for example, that it concerns a way to greet or to address to a person or the dress codes. She also wanted to share her culture and those of her country by explaining to me culinary habits and customs, clothing of different ethnicities of Kenya or sharing family events and so on. All of these factors are essential for understanding the study area, ensuring a good integration and spending unforgettable moments. Thank you Judith!”

Joyce Wangui Njuguna, monitoring and evaluation officer at CGA

“Being selected as a supervisor for the twin was a great responsibility and more so I considered it as an aspect of knowledge transfer for the entire team (Fert supervisor, and the twin interns). The process of ensuring the twin settled well and have a good working environment was key in ensuring the study was a success. This turned out well as they adapted so fast and they required minimal supervision during the study.

The approach of the study was interesting as it involved more farmer and stakeholder participation. This provided an opportunity for CGA to get quality feedback and prepositions from its members and non members. Furthermore, the results provided a good ground for the organization to redefine the services. Apart for the findings, the twins created simplified data collection tools that can be used by CGA to conduct similar studies in other Kenyan counties.

Overall, working with the twin interns from different cultures and countries opened up the team to the wonderful dynamics of working in a multi-cultural context. It also opened up the organization to new ideas on how it can start to shape its needs based on farmers needs. I look forward to future partnership with Fert with regards to such studies.”

Augustin Douillet, project manager for Kenya at Fert :

“This paired internship was a mutual choice of Fert and CGA for this study, which was of great importance for both our structures. It would indeed constitute a support of discussion for the continuation of our joint action. The work of this french-Kenyan student duo, with all its implications for different methods, perceptions and standards, has been reflected in the way we envision the Fert-CGA partnership: knowledge and skills different and complementary, which makes it even more relevant in developing services for Kenyan farmers. This type of editing is always a bet, and given the wealth of the study, this bet was successful!”