For the 4th time interactive workshops took place with all 5 coaches and 7 ICCO partners in Kenya in the context of the FED program. First with the coaches only for two days; next with all partners for 3 days. Two topics dominated the agenda:
- Planning Monitoring & Evaluation (PME) with special attention for data collection and data analysis
- Value Chain Development (VCD) progress in the field
The concrete steps with regard to data collection, followed by data analysis and decision making in the field brought about some surprising results. Field staff and change agents (farmers themselves) who collected data, became now for the very first time directly involved in data analysis and decision making. This new role empowered them which they appreciated highly. It helps to raise the quality of M&E. It changes the internal hierarchy inside the organisations, as the role of field staff and field agents becomes more prominent. Finally, the change agents have now become more critical on their voluntary position; they also want to be compensated for this task in a business like manner.
Data collection and analysis has been disaggregated in various ways: gender, age, geography, wealth. This has helped to discover patterns according to these factors and made decision making more specific and focused, thus raising the overall quality of performance.
The field visits to two value chains (sweet potato and pineapple) included meetings with traders and BDS services. These meetings were tremendous eye-openers. It helped the NGO staff to change still existing negative paradigms especially towards traders. They are now for the first time aware on the possibility of win-win situation and collaboration. NGOs now much better understand the interests of the traders. It was also very interesting to get better insights about the traders and how they see their roles and relations with producers and marketing cooperatives
Using the checklist for VCD facilitation process caused a major breakthrough. This checklist distinguishes four stages of the VCD growth process from chain selection & analysis towards full maturity. It helped NGOs realize that the progress they had made was far less than expected. Though this created a feeling of disappointment, it also made NGOs more modest. Finally, it helped to provide clear entry points for further coaching
In that regard it became clear that thus far the NGOs had too much focused on the production dimension instead of looking for market based solution together with other chain actors. The original program design was too production oriented which also limited the outreach in terms of numbers of farmers. Using the checklist will help the partners to improve and then upscale their chains in the near future.