KENYA – The ASAL region of Kenya has endured three severe droughts in the last decade, with the current drought termed as the most severe and longest with widespread livelihood loses and massive displacement of populations.
To this end, Kerry Group, the world’s leading taste and nutrition company, has partnered with the Irish humanitarian organisation Concern Worldwide to improve the lives of 46,000 Kenyans in the Tana River region, by providing access to climate-smart agricultural practices.
In Tana River County, 62% of the population live below the poverty line and most rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Many of the farmers are focused on livestock farming, but climate change has led to water insecurity and pasture deterioration, causing death and declines in livestock productivity, thereby wiping household income and food security.
In addition, Tana River is vulnerable to flooding – only those farms that are situated beside irrigation canals that have been able to sustainably engage in agricultural production.
Meanwhile, areas further away from the river are facing extreme drought. The area is crying out for assistance in the form of long-term value creation.
To this end, Kerry in partnership with Concern, have identified an opportunity to tackle these challenges in the Tana River, which has 200,000 mango trees growing along its banks through the Agricultural Livelihoods Improving Value Chains and the Environment (ALIVE) project.
“Climate change is having a devastating impact on the region, with the loss of pasturelands and the reduction in water supplies. Many households in Tana River depend on this traditional way of livestock rearing, but we are seeing that the full potential of the mango crop is untapped.
“This is an opportunity to further positively impact the lives of farming communities at the sharp end of climate change – incorporating factors such as skills training, access to capital, markets, employment and improving health and nutrition levels,” Concern’s Director of International Programmes, Carol Morgan said.
Under the four-year project, the parties will collaborate to improve food security, boost household income and reduce malnutrition levels in the Coastal County by training farmers, as well as providing access to climate resilient seeds and opening new areas for agricultural production and irrigation.
With financial support from Kerry, and using river water for irrigation, the project will create a regional value chain for mango production to benefit female growers, creating a new income stream for their families.
Participants will receive training on post-harvest handling, support for mango processing at community level and the introduction of post-harvest processing machines.
Importantly, mango production is more resilient to the impact of climate change and harnesses the resources of the Tana River, which is susceptible to flooding.
Ajay Sharma, Kerry’s East Africa General Manager said, “The ALIVE project with Concern will create long-term value for smallholder farmers, by farming the land once again to support themselves, their families and the community. I’m delighted that Kerry is investing in creating long term value in Kenya.”
Farmers will also be empowered to interact with markets, with an aim to improve household incomes by 20% annually, forming farmer-producer cooperatives and establishing relationships with regional processors and traders.
Many farmers are not organised in any form of cooperative and they rely on local traders and handling agents – as a result they get low farm gate prices for their produce.
The project also targets malnutrition among children aged under-five and mothers in the community, which will see the scaling up of health and malnutrition screening and improving health and nutrition knowledge and care practices.
Catherine Keogh, Chief Corporate Affairs and Brand Officer of Kerry said, “By removing barriers to progress, we aim to improve the lives of local farmers and their families. The focus on climate-smart solutions and health and nutrition support will create long term value and support some of those most affected by hunger and malnutrition.
“This World Food Day (October 16), we were reminded of our responsibility to deliver sustainable nutrition across the globe and we are extremely proud to partner with Concern once again to devise innovative solutions to help make Zero Hunger a reality.”
The ALIVE project builds on a partnership between Concern and the Kerry Group which spans over 12 years and has positively impacted on the lives of thousands of people in Niger, Zambia and Kenya.
The food ingredients specialist picked Kenya as its regional headquarters following its 5-country acquisition of regional taste house, Afribon in 2021.
The expansion into Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania has further enhanced its focus as a leading ingredient solutions provider for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical markets.