The Regenerative Agricultural practices for improved Livelihoods and Markets (REALMS) is a four-year € 6M project funded by the IKEA Foundation. Implemented by SNV, the project aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Kenya and Rwanda. The project started in November 2020 and concludes in October 2024.
The world is experiencing rising demands for food, mainly due to increasing populations and changing dietary patterns. By 2050, it is estimated that the production of four key global crops – maize, rice, wheat, and soybean (which produce nearly two-thirds of global agricultural calories) – may need to increase by 60–110% to meet increasing demands and guarantee the food security of an estimated 820 million people who are chronically undernourished today.
Within the agriculture sector, the predominant focus has been to increase crop production through agricultural intensification and the expansion of farmlands. Agricultural intensification is mainly achieved through the increased use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. Inappropriate intensification practices have led to soil degradation, loss of biodiversity and pollution. These practices have perpetuated poverty, particularly among smallholder farmers.
SNV and the IKEA Foundation share the same vision to create a better everyday life for as many people possible. Through innovative projects in the agricultural sector, both organisations aim to create opportunities for a better life for people, while protecting the planet.
Through the REALMS project in Kenya and Rwanda, the team promotes the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices such as reducing the use of chemical fertilisers, Integrated Pest Management, and setting soil and water conservation to stop erosion.
In Kenya and Rwanda, several smallholder farmers apply circular and regenerative farming practices such as the application of low quantities of home-made compost/animal manure, and biological pest control. However, the majority of smallholder farmers have yet to be introduced to biological pest control. To help realise this, the REALMS project will work with smallholders and their communities, support local service providers (SMEs) and with relevant stakeholders, co-create the necessary enabling environment for the application of regenerative agriculture.
During the project, the following approaches will be taken:
- Farming communities including women and youth will be actively engaged in decision-making, field trails, training and evaluation.
- An innovation fund to support SMEs will be rolled out to enhance market development and the commercialisation of regenerative products and services.
- Supportive national and sub-national agricultural policies will be co-developed to better govern and regulate the agricultural sector.
Additionally, REALMS will focus on livestock as an important input in the commercial value chain because they provide a source of manure for crop production. REALMS will also make use of Stover from crops as feed for the animals. Overall resource use efficiency of small farms is expected to increase as crops and livestock enterprises are combined in small farms.
Outcome 1: Adoption of regenerative agricultural practices by smallholder farmers, leading to improved soil and water quality and improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
Outcome 2: Increased investment, business growth and revenues for local service providers of products and services supporting regenerative agriculture.
Outcome 3: Improved enabling environment, favourable for market-driven regenerative agriculture.
The project seeks to reach 10,000 smallholder farmers: 5,000 in Kenya and 5,000 in Rwanda; 30,000 farmers beyond direct participants in the project; 11 national and sub-national governments; 10-12 civil society organisations; 20 agri-businesses; 10 farmer organisations; three knowledge and research organisations; and four multi-stakeholder platforms.