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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Laikipia Co-operative signs partnership with SNV to become a Grain Business Hub

By Anthony Mugo
The Laikipia Produce and Marketing cooperative society that has emerged from the work undertaken by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) with the support of the Ford Foundation’s Expanding Livelihoods for Poor Households Initiative (ELOPHI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) on September 19, 2014 to become a Grain Marketing Hub (GMH). The signing ceremony was held in Timau, hosted by another farmers’ group that was being similarly recognised.
Anthony Mugo from ALIN addressing the cooperative committee members

This is in the context of SNV’s Home-Based School Feeding Programme (HBSFP). A Business Marketing Hub is a business characterised amalgamation of supportive business/services linked to the grain business that enables an organisation to trade in grains efficiently, effectively and sustainably. This ensures grain suppliers (farmers) access goods and services through check off system.
The milestone development was the culmination of work with farmers from Laikipia West who have been beneficiaries of ALIN’s Ng’arua Maarifa Centres services for about seven years. The farmer’s organisation work though began in 2011.
It aimed to get farmers to work together both in enhancing production and in marketing their produce. The bid by ALIN to support farmers’ organisation was a response to evidently high levels of exploitation they suffered through the hands of brokers.
It took time and much discussion for farmers to settle for a cooperative as the best organ of supporting them to access fair markets through bulking of grain and getting into trade in farm inputs among other services. The cooperative was registered in June 2013 with support of ALIN.
The linkage with SNV resulted from outreach and networking activities by the cooperative’s leaders without the involvement of ALIN, an outcome that underscores the importance of partnerships built with the ultimate objective of achieving sustainability and independence of farmer-led organisations.
David Makongo from SNV addressing the cooperative committee members
On its part, SNV expressed a desire to work with the cooperative because it had managed to establish grain banking and trading systems within a short time with resources mobilised locally from farmers themselves.
Impressively, more than Kshs. 6 million had been exchanged though trade by the cooperative over the period July 2013 and March 2014. Mutually beneficial partnerships had also been formed with two key input suppliers: Kenya Seed Company (seeds) and MEA (fertiliser).
The SNV therefore considered Cooperative a suitable partner to integrate in its ongoing Home Grown School Feeding Programme, which will enhance the Cooperative’s access to structured markets, starting with supplying grains to primary schools within Laikipia West.

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