Viability of a Market Approach to Supporting Smallholder Agriculture Care Kenya: Reap

                                                              Care Kenya: REAP
                                                                    By Yuan Li

When it comes to marketing farm production, smallholder farmers have always been at a disadvantage when dealing with unscrupulous traders who offer low prices. Most of the rural poor are smallholder farmers, who depend on subsistence agriculture and food safety nets. The Kibwezi region of Kenya was particularly poor and vulnerable to economic and climate fluctuations. In this area, smallholders face many constrains, such as poor resource base, out-of-date infrastructure, limited access to markets, technology, information, capital, and private and public sector services. These constrains have led to a significant decline in both production and income for farmers.

Background and the Model

Through a good development model of education and infrastructure development, CARE's agricultural projects in Kenya, many smallholders have improved crop yield and efficiency. However, this model is not commercially sustainable if the donors’ preferences shift and the project will have to close. A series of analysis and research by CARE concludes that numerous structural barriers impede farmers from entering the formal economy and selling their goods. That's why the CARE Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness Promotion (REAP) project was initiated in early 2000.

Originally, the REAP project in Kenya was funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) grant under CARE Canada’s Rural Organization and Agri-Services Development (ROAD) programme. Other donors supporting the project are Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and CARE USA through Africa Fund. With these funding, CARE started the REAP by using a market-driven model to target smallholder irrigation farmers living below the poverty line in...