KTDA, IDH and Unilever improve tea farmers livelihoods at scale

Over 85,000 farmers have been trained on sustainable agricultural practices and Rainforest Alliance certification through Farmer Field Schools (FFS), including over 45,000 women (53%). Resulting in income diversification, higher yields and health, food and nutrition improvements.

Now IDH is convinced that the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) can continue it by itself and rests its support to the program. With a total farmer base of 560,000, KTDA will continue to roll out the FFS to all its smallholder farmers. IDH, Unilever and KTDA are continuing the partnership in the area of financial literacy, gender and are already collaborating under IDH’s Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes in Kenya to conserve Kenya’s Mau Forest.

After 8 years of the project over 3400 farmer field schools have been established. The program has been finalized with a celebratory closing event last week, attended by 1000 graduated FFS farmers as well as senior representatives from KTDA, Unilever and IDH.

To quantify the gains of FFS, the annual green leaf production generally has risen from lows of 727 million kg in 2008/2009 to highs of 1,233 million kg in 2015/2016″, said KTDA chief executive Lerionka Tiampati in Kericho at the closing ceremony.

Farmers have learned to grow other products resulting in more income generating from other sources such as dairy and poultry farming, tomato and cabbage production and raising of tree seedlings to sell. Impact reports indicate significant raises of livelihoods, despite lower tea prices.
Starting off with 700 farmers we have now reached 85,000 farmers through FFS, and integrated the training with RA certification. This resulted in improved relationships between farmers and the KTDA, increased numbers of women in leadership capacity and improved nutrition and diversification of FFS farmers, an unprecedented achievement at scale”, said Jordy van Honk, Program Director Tea at IDH.

Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda and Vietnam
This FFS approach inspired programs in Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda and Vietnam. Alongside this program a social training is rolled, supported by IDH and the ETP to all KTDA factories. This led to women also taking on more roles that were traditionally reserved for men (e.g. truck driver of leaf collection trucks) and now 50% and 33% of women in respectively supervisory roles and management roles throughout the KTDA. The program was implemented in two phases, from 2008-2012 the roll out phase and from 2013-2016 the roll-out and embedding phase bringing the FFS to all 66 KTDA factories. An overall impact assessment has been done by Wageningen University & Research. For more information please contact Judith Fraats.

Farmer Field Schools farmers listed a wide variety of reasons why they value the FFS training. The largest share of benefits mentioned (25%) were related to learning how to improve tea practices, such as pruning, plucking and the application of inputs. Almost one fifth of the benefits (19%) mentioned were related to increases in yield and income. Other frequently mentioned benefits were related to knowledge of income diversification (15%), soil, water and waste management (14%) and improved health and sanitation (10%).

In general, over the course of 2013-2015 there has been a decline in productivity, however this is lower for the farmers participating in FFS (14%) compared to non-FFS famers which experienced a 22% decrease. Still compared to profitability of other crops, tea is the most profitable in comparison to beans and maize. In previous years, over the course of 2011-2013 the yield increase amongst FFS farmers has been significantly higher with 30% yield increase, compared to a 15% yield increase for non-FFS farmers.

FFS farmers and KTDA also reported a positive effect on food and nutrition security.  All FFS farmers indicated clear improvements in the quantiy of food, while for the non-FFS farmers only 15% reported improvements in contrast to 85% who reported that the quantity and quality has remained the same. 

The program has been implemented in two phases, from 2008-2012 the roll out phase and from 2013-2016 the roll-out and embedding phase bringing the FFS to all 66 KTDA factories. For more information about the program and/or the independent impact assessment please contact Judith Fraats.