06/08/18

A fruitful cooperation in West-Kenya

To spread knowledge about healthy, varied nutrition in Vihiga County (Western Kenya), Biovision works closely with Bioversity International - and successfully. Many milestones have been reached and future projects also seem to be under a good star. Biovision therefore decided to grant an additional grant from 2018 to 2020 for the "Local seed increases biodiversity"-project.

Irene Induli, Communication Manager, Bioversity International Kenya

  • Mambai-sweetpotatoes from the Vihiga County Area.

Under the CGIAR Research Programs on Humid Tropics and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), Bioversity International started working in Vihiga County, Western Kenya in 2014, implementing a project on participatory approaches to improve dietary diversity. To assess the current situation regarding nutrition, agrobiodiversity and knowledge attitudes and practices among mothers on infant and young child feeding, several surveys were conducted in different phases. In five of the ten study sub-locations, we organized community workshops to disseminate and discuss the results, and develop community action plans to improve farm and diet diversity. The other five sub-locations served as control group and would later benefit from a ‘delayed’ intervention package.

Great impact throug a conclusive concept

The workshop participants unanimously selected two activities to implement in the five intervention sub-locations: growing of traditional leafy vegetables and legumes in home gardens, and poultry keeping. Results showed remarkable improvement in dietary diversity, nutrition and agricultural knowledge levels of the community.

Taking note of the positive results as well as the shared strategies and visions, Biovison invited Bioversity International Kenya to develop a concept note to build on and continue the work in Vihiga County. The successful concept note secured another year of funding that bolstered our impact in the community by helping smallholder farmers in the five selected sub-locations set up self-reliant facilities like the farmer resource centres to further disseminate project results. With the Biovision funding, more community health volunteers were trained to scale up nutrition education to more households within the intervention sub-locations. Farmers also received additional training on production and management of quality traditional leafy vegetable seeds from the farm to the market. Biovison also facilitated the development of education materials that are used at the resource centres.

Project extension until 2020

To enhance understanding and success of the programme, Biovision facilitated exchange visits with other farmer groups like SINGI based in Busia County. Other significant partners with whom we are working hand in hand in the project are: the Vihiga County Government through its Ministries of Health and Agriculture who are offering nutrition education and poultry keeping skills respectively; and Western Region Agricultural Technology Evaluation, (WeRATE) and Sustainable Organic Farming and Development Initiatives (SOFDI), two local non-governmental organizations providing expertise on quality seed production, ecological kitchen garden techniques, training on group dynamics, leadership and marketing of farm produce, especially the traditional leafy vegetables.

After a field visit to review the project’s progress in 2017, the Biovision team was impressed by the milestones achieved during the year and pledged an additional grant from 2018 to 2020. The work will proceed under a project named ‘Improving access and benefits from a wealth of diverse seeds to support on-farm biodiversity for healthy people in resilient landscapes’. Its objectives are:

  • 1) Expand the community work to the five initial control sub locations
  • 2) Set up a community seedbank to improve access to quality seeds in Vihiga County
  • 3) Study the broader Vihiga food system and make policy recommendations

Bioversity International and Biovision both work to find solutions to the global challenges of food and nutrition security, poverty, climate change adaptation and environmental health. Our collaboration with Bioversity International has been extremely fruitful, wishing a continued and strong partnership between our organizations.