Business Development

Project Title: Makueni Pasture and Milk Value Chain Project

Project period: 3 years

Dorcas Implementing partner: Kitise Rural Development Programme

Business case: Kitise Farmers Cooperative Ltd


Expected Outcomes:

  • Improved economic resilience;
  • Improved food security and climate resilience;
  • Empowered community members;
  • Equal access to basic services for everyone;
  • Sustainable organisational structures that dynamically respond to community needs;
  • Community safety nets in place for vulnerable groups;
  • Proper system in place for the protection of vulnerable groups;
  • People advocate for their rights (enabled right holders).


Key achievements to date:

  • Since the start of the project, 2,287 farmers have been reached and they are applying the agronomic practices on their farms. This is through 52 Farmer Field Schools;
  • A total of 13,789 bales of grass were processed. 7,850 bales are currently for sale in the cooperative stores. The 5,939 bales that were sold already, were processed for nine farmers at an affordable cost. Baling is still in progress. Most farmers will have access to pasture during the impending dry season;
  • Per farmer, per season, a yield of 2,520 kilo of grass was realised;
    A total of 500 women were trained on entrepreneurship;
  • The 17 newly identified lead farmers have completed the second and the final phase of the new curriculum. They are training and sensitising farmers on improved knowledge and skills on pasture and milk production. Until now, the project has 33 trained lead farmers (Training of Trainers);
  • The project has 233 active milk farmers;
  • Per day, an average of 390- 405 litres of milk has been processed and marketed by the cooperative;
  • Currently, 1,440 farmers are applying animal husbandry practices;
  • With help of the program, 623 farmers have been made aware of gender inclusion and the involvement of women and youths in the value chains;
  • The cooperative and Woni Sacco now have 384 new members;
  • The project has provided 510 farmers with accessing credit and extension services. 75 farmers have accessed credit from Woni Sacco;
  • The value chains include 1,373 women and 16 actors;
  • Six workers (four youths and two women) were employed directly by the cooperative.

Project Title: Siaya Chicken Value Chain Development Project

Project period: 3 years

Business case: Northern Gen Cooperative

Dorcas Implementing partner: Northern Gen Cooperative


Key outcomes:

  • Increased poultry production;
  • Increased household income from poultry production;
  • Increased links among actors in the value chain (producers, input suppliers, service providers, processors, marketers);
  • Improved farmers’ organisational structures and governance;
  • Improved value addition along Chicken Value Chain (collection, aggregation, processing and marketing);
  • Community social protection support of women, youth and vulnerable groups in the economic mainstream;
  • Increased links with the private sector;
  • Improved legislation, certification and enforcement of standards in the Chicken Value Chain.


Key challenges addressed by the business case:

  • Low productivity;
  • Limited stakeholder engagement;
  • Poor record keeping, lack of clear pricing policy and market information symmetry;
  • Lack of a ready and consistent market;
  • Lack of social inclusion.


Key achievements:

  • The cooperative trained farmers on pre-cooperative formation. The cooperative is currently also conducting economic appraisals to enable registration to take place and is overseeing the election of an interim committee;
  • The business has identified Chicken Basket as a buyer. Between January and June 2021, the business supplied feeds with a value of 300,120 Kenyan Shillings. A total of 2,880 day old chicks and 415 birds were sold;
  • Governmental extension officers trained 26 farmers trained on poultry production;
  • ‘Light for the world’, an organisation for inclusive development, assisted in hiring eight people with a disability in the value chain. The partner organisation recruited 50 farmers and has already trained 26 of them. Extension and aggregation services were also provided for farmers in cohorts (A, B and C). Dorcas staff offered technical advice;
  • The partner organisation has mobilised 50 farmers and organised them into four cohorts (D, E, F, G), 26 of them have already been trained on commercial poultry production (feeding, vaccination, housing and disease treatment).


Project Title: Kitui Honey Value Chain Project

Business case: KAMAKIS farmers’ cooperative

Project period: 3 years

Doras Implementing partner:  Muangeni CBO


Key outcomes:

  • Improved household incomes from bee keeping;
  • Increased honey production;
  • Increased links among actors in the value chain (producers, input suppliers, service providers, processors and marketers);
  • Improved organisational structures and governance at the cooperative and Farmer Field Schools;
  • Improved legislation, certification and enforcement of standards in the honey industry;
  • Increased links with the private sector.


Key achievements:

Efficiency: The production of raw honey has increased from 8.7 tonnes to the current 25.3 tonnes. We owe this result to the project extension officer who constantly keeps in touch with the aggregators and the farmers at the farmer field schools. More farmers are now aware of the benefit of selling their honey through the cooperative. Efficiency in sales and marketing lead to a better turnover and increased the profits that were reinvested as working capital, to purchase more honey and pay the farmers upon delivery. Out of the 25.3 tonnes, 21.3 tonnes have been processed. This means that 12.6 tonnes of liquid have been produced, which leads to an extraction rate of 59%. This result was achieved due to a more efficient utilisation of the processing equipment, competent technical personnel and the 7 representatives. The cooperative has already mapped out the most conserved areas along the water towers.

The wax melting and moulding processes have also become more productive. This is the result of the extracted dry combs refined into wax. Marketing increased from a monthly average of 445 kilo to an average of 653 kilogram. This result was booked through the onboarding of marketing interns who were hired on commission. Also, more stockists were identified, thus increasing the number from 13 to 20.


Supportive activities

At the county training centre, the county government trained an additional carpenter. He was taught basic and technical skills that support beekeeping. There are now three trained cooperative carpenters, more youths are now being trained. The carpenters created an average of 300 hives in the first half of the year. Twelve trainers were trained on queen rearing and now, the stocking of hives has started. This is expected to increase hive colonisation and as a consequence, honey production.

Various stakeholder meetings with KWS and KWTA continue to foster hope in future partnerships geared towards incorporating apiculture to conserve the mapped water towers and reserve areas. The climate change pilot project identified 34 clean energy agents. They have been trained to champion awareness on the impacts of climate change and adoption of alternative energy solutions while reducing deforestation. Meeting and training the relevant county officers on climate change is expected to create a common front towards addressing adverse effects of persistent drought in the project area. Participating in the annual global and national celebration days (World Bee Day, National Ushirika and environmental days) was noted to increase connections, awareness and collaborations with like-minded stake holders. Being certified and registered members with county and national apiculture platforms can make the cooperative vocal and farmers’ views be heard at county and national levels during policy and decision-making times. The National Museums of Kenya visited the cooperative with the objective of getting background information of the cooperative and farmers for documentation and dissemination of Kitui South cultural and social practice on apiculture. Local and national media stations continued to support the cooperative in advertising and promotions.


Processing capacity and quality

On top of increasing the amount honey settling and being packaged at any time, the 1,000 kilo capacity settling tank has increased uniformity in the amber of packaged honey. Processing and packaging capacity increased by a tenfold. Human contact with processed honey was reduced by ensuring that larger volumes were held by the tank. Losses in quality and quantity experienced earlier due to infestations by wax moths were reduced. Adequate, airtight and clean buckets were used to store the semi refined honey before emptying the settling tank. The inspection tray recommended by Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS) was found useful for separating broken combs and other impurities that are inevitable in honey from log hives that most farmers own at these formative stages of the project. ICIPE trained on propolis extraction and its utilisation for various by-products, mainly propolis suspension. KeBS standardised and certified the Kamaki bee wax and body cream. Since honey is highly hygroscopic to scents the processing of other hive products (propolis, body creams, wax sheets and wax blocks) separate temporary production structures were constructed according to the KeBS recommendations.


Brand development:

Customers’ response on labelling and branding is positive. Sales have steadily increased. The initiated and ongoing procedures to acquire ISO certification place the cooperative at a competitive height of the national and global markets. The cooperative is able to make decisions on brands, honey varieties and on Units of Packaging that the customers prefer. The cooperative has already registered its trade mark with the intention to have it patented. Exploitation of other hive products based on profit margins has been put down in order of priorities. Staffs, aggregators, promoters, processors and lead farmers have been branded with official corporate wear thus enhancing visibility. Plans to improve on visibility were initiated by designing and producing tear drops, fliers, brochures, and banners.


Operational and technical improvements:

The technical staff continues to offer advice and support to the project and the business. Through the newly employed project extension officer, the Farmer Field Schools are performing better on trainings on aviary management, training of trainers, field visits and farmer-cooperative communications. The partner supported in giving stipends to an intern who boosts the accountant’s performance in managing the projects and business accounts became overwhelming. During the time that more virtual than physical meetings were planned, a better internet connecting device was purchased and online communications became more efficient. Various meetings to discuss on a database management system have led to an improved organisation of the project and business data to be used in developing the system (QLIK sense). The 7 college representatives offered their skills and support in various departments. The processing technicians have made improvements in the quality and quantity of the processed and packaged honey. The Climate Change Officer works with the rest of the staff, the management team and the beneficiaries in the implementation of the climate change project. Long-term and short-term security measures to protect the growing investments have been initiated and some of these measure have already been implemented.

21 October 2021