Learning Journeys are opportunities for participants to learn together from a range of large and small farming systems and business leaders. The Food Lab has refined a learning journey methodology over the past dozen years, widely acclaimed and copied because participants consistently learn more together than would be possible individually.
Summit & Learning Journey Photo Gallery
The Learning Journey’s are a crucial part of the Sustainable Food Lab’s annual leadership summit.
The 2016 summit had learning journey’s for three different cities, Arusha and Moshi in Tanzania, and Nairobi in Kenya.
LEARNING JOURNEY #1: ARUSHA, TANZANIA
Agriculture is the main economic activity of the Arusha region, contributing more than 45% of regional GDP and more than 75% of export earnings. The primary food crop is maize. Yet, horticulture is the fastest growing industry within the sector, recording an annual average growth of 9−13% over the past seven years, as more farmers move from subsistence to commercial agriculture and climate is shifting what can be produced. Because of the availability of transportation (KIA/JRO airport is nearby), the region is building its export market.
Visits on this Learning Journey include:
AfriSem—AfriSem is a partnership between seed breeding companies, Dutch Rijk-Zwann and Thai East-West Seed. To feed a growing population without expanding into vulnerable ecosystems, increased productivity is needed. From their experiences in other parts of the world, AfriSem is convinced that adapted plant varieties are an absolute necessity for developing the African horticultural and agricultural sector. Furthermore, a higher productivity of adapted plant varieties will increase rural income. Because the current vegetable seed market is small and seed prices low, this market has not been a priority, however, AfriSem has taken on this challenge and begun a market-oriented vegetable crop breeding program for Africa, which has the potential to make a significant contribution to farmer productivity and the overall rural economy in Africa.
Farm Radio International—Farm Radio International is a Canadian-based, not-for-profit organization working in direct partnership with approximately 600 radio broadcasters in 38 African countries to fight poverty and food insecurity. Farm Radio develops radio scripts, information packages, a weekly electronic news service, and a special on-line community called Barza, and shares them with thousands of African broadcasters. They, in turn, use these resources to research, produce and present relevant and engaging programs for their audience of tens of millions of farmers. These resources are:
- aimed at increasing food supplies and improving nutrition and health;
- simple, safe, affordable and practical;
- ecologically sound and environmentally sustainable;
- suitable for communication by radio;
- proven useful and transferable within the developing world; and
- appropriate to both female and male small-scale farmers.
Farm Radio also provides training to broadcasters, including direct in-station training, distance education and custom workshops to help them meet a higher standard of farm radio services. All training is directly targeted toward the practical needs and realities of broadcasters–as they do their work. They help radio stations measure the quality of their farm radio services, and take steps to improve them, by appraising their programs against a set of standards. Finally they work with partner radio stations to plan and deliver special radio campaigns and programs that have a specific impact on a development challenge such as soil erosion or banana bacterial wilt. Programs like this have been proven to increase farmers’ knowledge of improved farming practices, help them make decisions about whether to adopt the improvements, and realize the benefits of introducing these practices on their farms.
HORTI Tengeru—HORTI Tengeru is one of the key research and Training institutes under the Departments of Research and Training of the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives. The institute was established in 1980’s, with the national mandate to undertake horticultural research and practical training activities.
RedGold/Darsh Industries—Darsh Industries was founded in 1999 when a businessman, Bhadresh Pandit, decided to make tomato products. He went on to develop innovative products like tomato paste for first time in Tanzania, and today Darsh Industries has developed a fruit and vegetable product line under the brand name REDGOLD, which is produced under one of the most modern, hygienic, quality focused manufacturing units in Tanzania. As the typical market demand is for large tomatoes, 30-40% of what is produced would normally be wasted. Darsh uses those “waste” tomatoes in their products. They also separate out the tomato seeds and work with AVRDC to get them back to farmers.
The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC)—The World Vegetable Center conducts research, builds networks, and carries out training and promotion activities to raise awareness of the role of vegetables for improved health and global poverty alleviation. Vegetable production and processing can alleviate poverty by creating new jobs and new sources of income for farmers and landless laborers, improve health by providing essential micronutrients lacking in diets, enhance learning and working capacities of adults and children through improved diets and health, and improve the sustainability of food production practices by diversifying cropping systems. The Center’s research and development work focuses on breeding improved vegetable lines, developing and promoting safe production practices, reducing postharvest losses, and improving the nutritional value of vegetables.
Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA)—TAHA is a private sector, member-based organization that advocates for the growth and competitiveness of the horticultural industry in Tanzania. Since its inception in 2004, TAHA has been an effective platform for producers, traders, exporters and processors of horticultural products, mainly ﬂowers, fruits, vegetables, horticultural seeds, and spices. The Association safeguards the interest of the private sector and ensures the industry issues are well mainstreamed at the national and international agenda. TAHA runs several affiliate businesses including TAHA Fresh, which provides market access, technical support, and air, sea, and land logistics for small producers.
TAHA Capsicum Project—TAHA program activities integrate cross-cutting themes to ensure sustainability and inclusivity. The strategic indicatives include establishment of a Vibrant Gender and Nutrition Unit, capacity building on Compliance Issues, Environmental Sustainability and climate smart agriculture, Target Initiatives for Youth & Women Engagement in Horticulture, Promotion of Horticulture Nutrition Values. TAHA introduced capsicum production after realizing the huge demand of capsicum in mega shopping malls, tourist hotels, restaurants as well as food companies. Up to 2014 the production of capsicum was very low in Tanzania, and most buyers imported the crop from Kenya and South Africa. TAHA decided to promote capsicum to youth and women because it can be grown in a small plot in a greenhouse and easily managed. Also the production of capsicum gives women who make 51 percent of all capsicum farmers in Arusha, enough time do their household activities at the same time take care of their farms. The promotion of capsicum resulted to influx of farmers and increases in supply. This forced TAHA to fetch markets outside Tanzania, now farmers export capsicum to Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya.
LEARNING JOURNEY #2: MOSHI, TANZANIA
Coffee is Tanzania’s largest export crop and has had its ups and downs over the years. While stability in coffee production has been improved through the creation of an independent Tanzanian Coffee Board overseeing the sector, climate change has recently impacted the productivity of coffee growers in this region. 90% of the growers are smallholder and are looking at diversification options to mitigate climate effects. In Tanzania, the Hai and Moshi districts of Kilimanjaro region have the biggest potential for horticultural growth. Besides having a good equatorial climate that allows year-round production, Moshi is a perfect location for export because of its good connections to the major eastern African seaports of Mombasa and Dar Es Salaam.
Visits on this Learning Journey include:
Yieldwise/Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)/World Food Program (WFP)—
The goal of the YieldWise Initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation is to reduce post-harvest losses in the maize value chain in Tanzania by 50% from 27.5% to 13.75% by 2019. The impact of reduced crop loss is an increase in farmers’ income by 25%. The project implements an intervention model that combines the following four integrated components:
Bringing farmers together for training, aggregation of produce and awareness on post-harvest management technologies
Increasing farmer access to finance and credit opportunities to help them afford technologies, and also promote investment in the agriculture sector through forward contracts via the Patient Procurement Platform
Creating new market linkages for smallholder farmers with anchor buyers for their surplus harvest, and
Promoting distribution and adoption of loss-reducing technologies to improve crop handling, storage and processing.
TPC—Situated in the Kilimanjaro region, TPC Ltd is one of Tanzania’s largest sugar estates. Of its 16,000 hectares of land, 8,000 hectares are used for sugar cane cultivation. Over the years, TPC Ltd has made significant investments in the rehabilitation and upgrading of fields, infrastructure and equipment. As a result of the sustained progress made in these areas, sugar production has increased from an annual production base of 30,000 tonnes to the present 100,000 tonnes. At the same time, considerable experience was acquired and efficiency gains were achieved in a number of
areas including cane varieties, fertilization, irrigation, transport and sugar recovery. Although its operations have reached maturity and are showing positive results, TPC Ltd plans to further increase sugar production in the coming years by cultivating additional land, introducing new cane varieties, adopting more efficient irrigation and fertilization methods and improving factory recoveries. Other potential development projects for years to come include the setting up of a distillery to improve the value added from molasses and the extension of electricity production throughout the year by burning non-cane biomass in the intercrop. TPC Ltd has 1,900 permanent employees and an additional 1,000 seasonal workers. It also provides an additional 800 jobs through outsourced services. Its CSR programme targets the promotion of community-based revenue-enhancing initiatives, targeting healthcare, education and infrastructure.
Seeds of Expertise for the Vegetable Sector of Africa (SEVIA)—Seeds of Expertise for the Vegetable Sector of Africa (SEVIA)—SEVIA contributes to the development of the vegetable industry in Africa and to food security focusing primarily on production for the local market. SEVIA works with AfriSem to develop better seeds for African vegetable varieties that are specifically bred for individual regions and work with farmers around the country to enhance productivity and increase farmers’ income through the sharing of technical innovations, support, and training. SEVIA also partners with input providers to increase the amount of technical support being provided to farmers. Demonstration farms are set up in different areas to showcase how new technologies as basic as seedling trays, plant spacing, trellising, drip irrigation, plastic mulch, etc. can impact production.
Solidaridad/Soil & More—Coffee production is declining in northern Tanzania. Those that are continuing are mostly smallholders who need various kinds of help to increase productivity for a sustainable livelihood. Training, joining farmer organizations, and growing for local markets are helping. But access to market and access to finance remain issues. Soil recovery efforts, tree planting, diversification with agriculture and livestock, as well as reorganization of the coffee sector as a whole, are making a difference.
Rural Primary Cooperative Society, Hans R Neumann Stiftung—HRNS supports farmers in establishing professionally managed and transparent farmer organizations that are capable of providing important services to their members. This is achieved by building the technical and management capacities of individual farmers and also the leadership of farmer organizations. As members of these organizations, farmers can free themselves from dependencies and are no longer held captive to commercial relationships. As a result, they can develop as entrepreneurs, achieving economies of scale and competitiveness, for example, by marketing their coffee in bulk, and saving costs on storage and transport. In addition to generating economic impact on a household level, farmer organizations also become important platforms in rural settings for supplementary development activities conducted by the farmers themselves or by third parties. Structures, mechanisms,
and framework conditions are established to ensure the continuous growth and development of these farmer organizations.
VECO Passion Fruit Pilot—Starting a value chain from scratch is hard. Taking into account climate and soil conditions, research showed that passion fruit was a viable crop for this part of Tanzania. Using best practices like engaging lead farmers, new ways of contracting such as offering a fixed price for the first 12 months, and participation in farmer groups as their role evolves are just some of the new ways VECO is supporting passion fruit farmers to develop this value chain. Risk tolerance, financing, and trust are all issues at play here.
LEARNING JOURNEY #3: NAIROBI/LAKE NAIVASHA AREA, KENYA
Expanding our view of East Africa beyond Tanzania, Kenya’s economy is dominated by agriculture and about one-half of its total agricultural output is non-marketed subsistence production. It employs about 75% of the workforce. Kenya is a leading producer of tea and coffee and the third-leading exporter of fresh produce including cabbages, onions and mangos.
Visits on this Learning Journey include:
Arifu Digital Platform, Syngenta—Smallholder farmers across Africa present the largest opportunity and challenge to Syngenta’s business. Low population density, vast geographical spread and low input investment means “reaching them” effectively is extremely costly. Syngenta’s SMS training (hosted by Arifu, an ed tech start-up) is a unique, fit-for-purpose tool that uses behavioral nudges to gain greater levels of engagement. The training covers land prep to harvest with product information embedded to encourage adoption. It appeals to the younger generation of emerging smallholders and drives product sales. In record time, there are more users than any SMS training platform in Africa, with 147,000 users and growing daily. This program was launched in Tanzania in October and Syngenta is planning entry into two additional markets in 2017, targeting 1 million users.
East African Dairy Development Program/Heifer International/Ol Kalou Dairy Hub—A joint project of Heifer, TechnoServe, and Africa Breeder Sciences, this initiative involves over 136,000 dairy farmers in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda with the goals of increasing farmer income by improving production per cow per household, promoting dairy hubs, and enabling gender equity. The Dairy Hubs serve as a one-stop shop and provide chilling, training, extension services, banking and credit union access, transportation/logistics and insurance. Besides the farmers, there are over 400,000 secondary beneficiaries—including new value-added businesses springing up around the hubs.
Kenyan Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Farmer School and Tea Factory—Indigenous Kenyans were barred by law from growing tea until the dawn of independence in December of 1963 when the legislation was repealed. In 1960, the colonial government created the Special Crops Development Authority (SCDA) to promote growing of tea by Africans under the auspices of the ministry of Agriculture. After Independence, Kenya Tea Development Authority was formed and took over the liabilities and functions of the SCDA to promote and foster the growing of tea on small farms, which were previously said to be unviable in view of the expertise and costs required, as witnessed in the plantation sector. Since then the growing of tea by the small-scale sub-sector in Kenya has carved a niche for itself in the global tea trade. The Agency currently manages 67 factories in the small-scale tea sub-sector in Kenya and provides support to smallholder growers primarily in the form of farmer field schools.
Imarisha Naivasha—This multi-stakeholder collaboration provides a landscape approach for sustainable development around Lake Naivasha addresses wildlife management, fishing, farming, solid waste, reforestation, water, and more, and operates from the lake level to the upper cachements. The Lake Naivasha basin is a very significant landscape at the local, national and International levels from both ecological and socio-economic perspectives. It is also a complex entity with a broad spectrum of stakeholders and diverse though sometimes conflicting interests. The entire basin is faced with numerous challenges influenced by the increasing human population and the scramble for natural resources to sustain community livelihoods and investments. The resultant effects of these challenges have been major impacts on water availability, quality and provision of other ecosystem services.
VegPro—With over 35 years’ of trading experience, VP Group is now at the forefront of fresh produce, flowers and logistics, with multiple operations across Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana & Tanzania. Becoming more vertically integrated, VegPro has moved into all aspects of production from breeding to having their own marketing operations in major markets. With extensive composting and biomass power production, along with food donations to schools in Nairobi or feed for cattle, nothing goes to waste. An award-winning company, they offer a leadership development program to develop in-country talent.