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Strengthening Agricultural Market Systems in Kenya

The Feed the Future Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems Activity (KCDMS) helped smallholder farmers engage in competitive markets for dairy and horticultural crops and supported better health through improved nutrition


Reduce hunger, malnutrition, and poverty in Kenya through inclusive, diversified, sustainable growth in agricultural market systems and direct nutritional interventions and training. 


In collaboration with USAID, KCDMS forged local and national partnerships that improved the policy environment for private sector agricultural growth; expanded access to capital that increased the capacity and resilience of small and medium-sized dairies and horticultural operations; promoted agricultural diversification and the adoption of better farm management practices; and fostered a more inclusive system for women and youth. 


Over its six-year duration, KCDMS reached over 485,287 participants—the majority of whom were women and smallholder farmers; collaborated with 4,135 private sector partners and farmer organizations; leveraged $63.8 million in private sector investment; and enabled $176 million in sales by farmers and businesses. The Activity also reached 123,446 individuals—primarily children under age 5—with nutrition interventions aimed at increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.  


Promoting Competitive, Inclusive, and Resilient Market Systems in the Dairy and Horticulture Sectors

KCDMS worked with private and public actors in the dairy and horticulture sectors in 12 counties in eastern and western Kenya to facilitate strong, structured, and mutually beneficial supplier-buyer relationships that support agricultural production. As a result of the project, agribusinesses achieved sales of US$60.1 million and farmers sold produce valued at US$103.4 million.

KCDMS also provided farmers and agribusinesses with access to an enlarged pool of much-needed capital. This assisted 49,940 value chain actors (91% individuals and 9% businesses) in accessing US$63.3 million in agriculture financing, with $50.4M of that amount leveraged from the private sector.

KCDMS also contributed significantly to farmer resilience and poverty by intensifying assistance to farmers to adopt technologies and management practices that supported diversification, value addition, energy efficiency, and information exchange.  

Activities included fostering commercial connections via business-to-business forums that brought together agricultural stakeholders, improving their understanding of quality requirements, price trends, and commodities pricing. Other collaborative actions strengthened relations between dairy cooperatives and milk processors, created mango producer cooperatives, and expanded global markets for Kenyan avocadoes, bananas, and horticulture products.

By offering in-kind grants, the project helped 310 agro-dealers and 1,464 farmers adopt information and communications technology (ICT) in their daily operations to improve their capacity, efficiency, and profitability. Oher accomplishments included facilitating business development services (BDS) that assisted dairy and horticulture businesses in accessing low-cost services that helped them achieve scale, expand operations, and improve market reach. 

Promoting Diverse Agricultural Production and Improved Productivity 

More than 75% of Kenyans rely on agriculture for a living, but productivity is low, contributing to food insecurity and rural poverty. To diversify agricultural production and improve productivity, KCDMS collaborated with multiple stakeholders to identify and promote best practices and technological upgrades while stimulating farmer demand. By leveraging several different mechanisms for training and extension, KCDMS engaged with 287,477 farmers, 207,700 of whom applied improved agricultural management practices or technologies to 76,140 hectares of land.   Farmers were provided with increased access to extension services and inputs like fertilizers, seedlings, and farm equipment, as well as integrated pest management and improved breeding technologies. They were also trained in the principles of farming as a business.  

Other activities included:  

  • Campaigns and post-harvest treatment technologies aimed at controlling aflatoxin contamination in stored grains, pulses and fruit fly infestations, and fall armyworm pest.
  • Expanding the production and availability of improved, drought-tolerant seeds.
  • Promoting good feeding and fodder management in dairies.
  • Employing artificial insemination and vaccines to improve the health and productivity of dairy cow.
  • Promoting climate-smart water conservation technologies.
  • Engaging 1,972 women in production of leafy vegetables for income generation.  
  • Helping 90,813 farmers benefit from deep tillage practices, soil testing, and lime application.  

Fostering an Enabling Policy Environment for Market Systems Development 

Recognizing that an enabling agricultural policy environment is critical for effective market system development and private sector investment, KCDMS collaborated with county and national governments to develop 87 need-driven policy instruments.  These included a National Phytosanitary Policy (NPP), a National Dairy Industry Transformation Strategy, and an Animal Feed Development Strategy.    

Other activities included conducting training courses in policymaking, including some that were directed at youth; facilitating seamless integration between counties and the national government in agricultural policymaking; harmonizing activities and pooling resources to improve the functioning of the six regional blocs that represent Kenya’s 47 counties; preparing and launching a five-year strategic plan to support expansion of the domestic and export horticulture markets; improving awareness of Kenya Dairy Regulations; supporting national avocado and mango promotion strategies; and reviewing animal feed standards. 

Integrating Women and Youth into Agricultural Market Systems 

As Kenya’s largest employment sector, agriculture has the potential to absorb a significant number of young people entering the labor force. However, women—who contribute roughly 70% of agricultural labor—and youth face barriers regarding resource management and critical decision-making within their families and communities. To assist them in overcoming these obstacles, KCDMS reached 175,850 women and 37,770 youth farmers with market system interventions, resulting in sales of US$17.5 million by women producers and women-led enterprises and sales of US$5.2 million by youth. The program also advanced US$14.7 million in credit to 46,173 women and US$3.4 million to 9,757 youth for agribusiness investment.

Activities included training women and youth in poultry and sweet potato commercialization; production of African leafy vegetables, mangoes, and commercial fodder; dairy and fruit processing; contract farming; and seedling production and nursery management. Youth also were trained to offer spray services and monitor integrated pest management traps in mango orchards and were provided with starter kits and training to help them launch chicken-grilling businesses.

Additionally, through the application of kitchen garden technologies, small-scale irrigation kits for household food production, postharvest storage technologies for legumes and grains, vegetable solar drying, and energy-saving stoves for preparing diverse meals, over 88% of women of reproductive age and 77% of children aged 6–23 months consumed diversified diets in the 58 wards that KCMDS targeted for nutritional intervention in its final year.