SNV’s five-year Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding (PG-HGSF) project in Kenya is coming to its conclusion.

On May 10, SNV Kenya organised a workshop for two farmer-based organisations (FBOs) and school feeding stakeholders in Laikipia County to brief them on the impacts, challenges, and lessons learned during implementation of the project. The FBOs included Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society and Mount Kenya Produce and Marketing Organization, who were joined by representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries; the Ministry of Education, Science and TechnologyArid Lands Information Network; Kilimo Biashara Promoters; and head teachers of local schools.

The workshop enabled the two FBOs to share experiences and challenges and to deliberate on how best they can take advantage of the Home Grown School Meals (HGSM) market they were introduced to over the course of the project.

Mr. David Makongo, SNV Advisor to the PG-HGSF Kenya project, said SNV worked with FBOs to develop a more inclusive and responsible relationship between smallholder farmers and school feeding buyers.

“[The] HGSM programme is a viable market for farmers as the quantities required are manageable. Most schools have also indicated that [the] quality of cereals from farmers is usually higher than from traders,” said Mr. Makongo. He continued, “SNV and its partners worked hard to remove barriers to smallholder farmer inclusion in the school meals programme. Initially most farmer groups were not benefiting [from it] but this is now changing.”

The project enabled SNV to pilot interventions in procurement, supply chain, and social accountability processes that helped remove obstacles to smallholder farmer access to school feeding markets. Notable achievements of the PG-HGSF project in Kenya include linking 6,824 farmers from 11 FBOs to sell directly to schools. 1,400 farmers were connected to other formal markets providing predictable and reliable demand for food products. Between 2013 and 2015, the project oversaw the completion of 227 social audits, which “helped create a more transparent and participatory assessment of the health and performance of school feeding programmes,” according to Mr. Makongo.

Specifically in Laikipia County, the program addressed the existing challenge of lack of data for effective planning and decision-making in education and the HGSF programme by creating an online data management system. Additionally, SNV Kenya strengthened the linkages between financial, storage and managerial capacities of FBOs by developing and expanding Grain Business Hubs. This enabled Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society and Mount Kenya Produce and Marketing Organization to sell grains more efficiently and profitably.

At the May 10 workshop, the two FBOs learned that despite the conclusion of the SNV project, opportunities for smallholder farmers still exist and FBOs can still take a stronger role in their local school meals programmes by applying for tenders from local primary schools.

The two farmer groups thus far supply foodstuffs to five schools in Laikipia County. Representatives from the FBOs agreed to come up with strategies to supply to more schools within Laikipia County, where a total of 106 schools receive HGSM funding. They stated that the conclusion of the Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding project has re-energized their members and provided them with an added motivation to ensure that they grow their grain business hubs.

Photo: Mount Kenya Produce and Marketing Organisation receiving a moisture meter from SNV Kenya’s David Makongo during the workshop.

This article was previously published in its original version on May 13 by Laikipia Rural Voices. It can be found here