Fair & Sustainable Advisory Services (FSAS) was asked, together with national Kenian coaches, to facilitate a learning workshop. For the fifth time this learning workshop took place with the FED partners in Kenya. This time it was held in Kisumu early July during three days.
Two topics featured high on our learning agenda:
- The performance of the FED Consortium: less than one year ago the 6 organisations decided to form a Consortium. How contributed this to improved performance and better results?
- The use of ICT in Value Chains. Web based ICT innovations for mobile phones and use of radio stations for broadcasting market information to farmers were introduced last year. How did these innovations influence farmers in decision making for marketing?
The first stage of the Consortium formation has been extremely successful. The successes mentioned were production of joint proposals, intensive and active support from high board and management, MOU established, understanding of added value of each partner, joint market analysis, working secretariat and joint reporting. To a large extent these first positive results can be attributed to the already existing and well tested collaboration among partners and the long learning and coaching process (for 6 years) prior to the formation of the FED Consortium.
It is as yet too early to properly assess the real added value of the Consortium. Some favorable indications are cases such as a more cost-effective market survey and higher quality joint reporting. A possible pitfall is to see the Consortium in the first place as a mechanism to increase access to new funding sources. However, this will only work if the Consortium is firstly able to assess the improved impact of its performance, as this was the rationale for establishing the Consortium. Demonstrating this improved impact is then the best approach for assuring better access to funding access, but not the other way around.
Radio stations have played a very positive role in information dissemination. Farmers have enormously appreciated the radio messages and strongly urged to increase the geographical coverage of these services. The numbers of listeners has increased and more and more external Value Chain actors and development organisations are ready to fund the radio station in order to improve their market information programme and reach out to a wider audience.
Farmers and NGOs have also enthusiastically embraced various ICT applications. One remarkable phenomenon is that younger farmers have made more investments in farming. It remains to be investigated to what extent ICT has played a role in this very surprising development. Farmers and NGOs have applauded the lower costs for organising meetings by using frontend text messages to send information and invitations. More farmers could be reached and target numbers could be raised. ICT officers newly employed by the FED members are also very positive about their work and the responses of farmers, providing them with new input and ideas to increase their efforts in use of ICT.
FSAS and the coaches stimulated the participants to make more critical analysis of the changes on these two dimensions, looking for deeper levels of learning. Various suggestions for additional research were made in order to better understand the changes currently taking place.