Cristina Talens – March Progress on the Smallholder support Programme

March 2011 – Cristina Talens provides an update on our innovative programme in East Africa

 I spent two weeks last month visiting our partner organisations out in Kenya and Ethiopia getting to know the people behind the smallholder support network. The first South to South ‘Peer Partnership’ between Ambo University (Ethiopia) and the Nyeri Technical Training Institute- NTTI  (Kenya) has been established, through exchange visits and training of lecturers in Nyeri. Everyone is also finally equipped with Skype, which is helping hugely on the communication front and is keeping the need for international travel down to a minimum. This meets one of the first important strategic objectives of the network, which is to build the capacity of local institutions to deliver courses to smallholder institutions.

The second strategic objective is to develop locally adapted training courses / materials to improve governance, performance and efficiency of both primary and secondary cooperatives. The NTTI are now in the process of developing 5 modules that will be trialed during April 2011 on the issues of:

–       Cooperative Governance

–       Entrepreneurship in Cooperatives

–       Sales and Marketing of coffee

–       Cooperative development and extension

–       Sustainability and Ethical trading

–        The issues of Gender and HIV will be cross cutting across all the modules.

 Following various meetings with NGOs and coffee traders in Kenya (Swedish Cooperative Centre, Transfair, Africa Now) we now need to facilitate exchange between NTTI and other institutions to develop a network of expert support locally in Kenya. We have asked the following organisations to assist NTTI in developing the training material:

a. The  Swedish Coop Centre  .

b. Transfair

c. Africa Now

d. Citizen radio

e. Dormans

 I went along to the John Beddington talk last week, where he talked about food security, agriculture and climate change. He mentioned the Nhambita project which follows the Plan Vivo methodology as an example of good practice- The Good news is that we shall be working with the very same Edinburgh team on the climate change training module. To date, it has been well received by funders, but don’t want to jump the gun until we have secured a proper grant to develop the training module. We should know more after we submit a fuller proposal and will be able to update mid- April.

 It is very possible that our partners from Ambo will be coming over in June 2011 to talk at an Africa College event on food security, health and impact and the roles of smallholder organisations within this context!

Last but not least, we have helped put forward a very brief business proposal to the Agriterra cooperative business challenge for Gikanda cooperative to set up a dairy processing unit in Nyeri. More details to follow…

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