Thinking of a Career in Emergency Management?
- BY Nicole Pelette
Although Kenya has the potential to be one of Africa’s great success stories, it continues to face serious development challenges. Poverty and food insecurity are acute in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL), which covers 80% of Kenya, including Emali. Households in Emali are chronically food insecure due to frequent droughts and unreliable rainfall as well as the high cost of food and lack of diversified incomes. Along with growing crops, the Kamba as well as the Maasai communities in Makueni and Kajiado areas around Emali keep livestock and produce significant amounts of milk. The general population in Emali makes a precarious living from either traditional cattle or crop farming, but efficiency and productivity are limited by the breeds, crops, and techniques used. Finding a market for surplus milk when needed has also been a major challenge. Theses challenge have been made worse by the effects of climate change and variability that have resulted in drier than normal conditions necessitating Maasai men and boys to migrate their livestock early in search of pasture. This has disrupted households as those left behind, mainly women and children, are placed under considerable economic strain.
Women make crucial contributions in agriculture and rural enterprises in this area, yet they face more severe constraints in accessing productive resources, markets, and services compared to their male counterparts. Studies assessing the gender division of labor in dairy farming indicate that women pastoralists play a predominant role in milking, watering, cleaning out the pens, and feeding the animals (Flintan 2008, 2011; World Bank, FAO, and IFAD 2009; Kristjansen et al. 2010). Traditionally, women also do the marketing of milk and other dairy products. Men tend to have a larger role in activities related to animal health, such as artificial insemination and seeking veterinary treatment, and in the marketing of live animals and meat. In the dairy sector in Kenya, women contribute substantial labor to all the activities associated with the dairy enterprise. In most ASAL counties, evidence suggests that about 65 percent of agricultural labor is provided by women in the rural households, yet they only have access to 40 percent of the accruing benefits (CIDP, 2013). The roles played by men and women in the dairy value chain are influenced by the gender division of labor and, therefore, tend to vary depending on the prevailing milk production and marketing systems.
To address these challenges, a local NGO is implementing a program geared towards developing more sustainable livelihoods through adding value and creating market-pathways for processed products as well as providing economic stability for livestock and crop farming households and improving nutrition. One of its key intervention is focused on the dairy value chain. The local NGO has, therefore, supported the farmers with a special focus on women and youth in this area to form a dairy cooperative that will spearhead milk marketing efforts in addition to providing other critical services to its members such as artificial insemination, training on livestock husbandry among others. In partnership with other stakeholders such as the County Government of Kajiado, the local NGO has already provided critical infrastructure to the start-up dairy cooperative such as milk chilling facilities and equipment as well as a refrigerated truck for transporting the milk to the market. Despite this support, the leadership of the start-up dairy cooperative is finding it difficult to identify the best route-to-market that will guarantee its members a good return on their investment and ensure that the cooperative grows sustainably.
Therefore, the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Access to Finance Program is recruiting a volunteer expert to support the dairy cooperative by conducting a market assessment for milk and other potential value-added dairy products. Through this assessment, the volunteer will develop a marketing strategy and provide recommendations for sustainable market access. This marketing strategy and market access recommendations will lead to increased opportunities for participation in profitable agricultural activities, thereby raising incomes and creating jobs.
Objectives of the assignment
Expertise of Volunteer Experts Requested: