The 18-month Kenya Maize Development Program Follow-on (KMDP II) boosted rural household incomes by raising agricultural productivity, improving effectiveness of smallholder organizations and increasing access to agricultural markets and business support services.
The USAID-funded intervention built on the original KMDP that ran from June 2002 to June 2010, and provided a sound basis for further investment in maize and other food security crops such as legumes, sorghum and tubers.
The KMDP II activities served Kenya’s Rift Valley, South Nyanza and Eastern provinces, especially targeting the high maize-producing districts of Western and Rift Valley known as “Kenya’s bread basket.”
KMDP II sustained a vital USAID-funded food security initiative in Kenya, improving the productivity of smallholder farmers in crops that can be used for both income generation and food security. The follow-on program’s mandate was three-fold, to:
- continue critical activities to improve the livelihoods of the farmers in the maize sub-sector;
- begin activities which will improve the livelihoods of farmers in alternative staples sub-sectors, and create demand for diversified staple crop production; and
- lay the groundwork for future USAID investment within the staple crop subsectors.
KMDP II also continued to capitalize on the wealth of Kenya’s untapped potential by providing opportunities for young people and women to engage in the market economy and become viable entrepreneurs. The program fostered an enabling environment that allowed youth and women to better participate in decision-making processes at the household and farm level.
At the onset of KMDP II, baseline and value chain assessments were conducted for sorghum, tubers and legumes, filling a much-needed gap in the knowledge base. The KMDP II team then led value chain assessments of the new staple crops, ensuring that gender was mainstreamed within the assessment.
The team used this data to tailor its implementation model for enhanced productivity of the new staple crops. Through the first cropping cycle, KMDPII identified the successes and limitations of its approach for the alternative staples. It also developed additional interventions that maximized private sector involvement and fostered synergies with other local food security programs.
AGRICULTURAL GROWTH IMPERATIVE TO KENYA’S DEVELOPMENT
In 2010, growth of the Kenyan economy was shown to be highly correlated to agricultural growth and development as it accounts for 65 percent of Kenya’s exports and provides more than 70 percent of informal employment in the rural areas (Agricultural Sector Development Strategy, 2010). Recognizing the importance of agriculture to sustained economic growth and the challenges facing the sector, the Government of Kenya launched the ASDS in July 2010. The Kenyan government subsequently released its Medium Term Investment Plan as part of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) Compact implementation process.
Concurrently, the U.S. government launched its Feed the Future (FTF) strategy with its first phase grounded in two key paths: accelerating inclusive agricultural growth and improving nutritional status. The FTF strategy aligned with Kenya’s country plans to invest more in staple crops as the engine for driving agricultural growth and attaining food security.