Our Work

KENYA: Growing Faith in The Fields of Kenya

Current Project

 Project Summary and Program Scope

We are seeking funding to start multiple farmer groups in Thika, Kenya. These groups will aggregate local farmers to produce quantities that leverage micro-finance support, higher quality seed, and good prices at market. Planting Faith will work with Diocesan leaders in Thika, Kenya to identify local farmers who own 1-5 acres, but struggle to earn more than $1 a day. We expect to work with up to 150 farmers and their families during the two years of this project. Working in groups of 20-30 increases the individual farmer’s profit potential, access to tools and inputs and negotiating power, while decreasing risk exposure.

New groups commence on a regular basis and each is incubated within Planting Faith for two years. During that time farmers undergo training in finance, production, marketing, biblical business principals, discipleship and inexpensive production techniques that improve production.  At the end of the two-year period, the cooperative is an autonomous, income-producing business owned by the farmers.

The purpose of applying for this grant is to cover project expenses – including salaries, community mobilization costs, transportation, communication, administration and final evaluation – incurred during the process.

Critical needs to be met by the project

70% of Kenyans rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. The typical small farmer is land rich (owning a couple of acres) but cash poor, bringing in under $400 annually. Their primary asset, land, is being underused and cannot support their family. Lacking access to high quality seed and agriculture extension services their farms produce low yields, requires expensive transportation, and fetches poor prices at market. The majority of these farmers are female heads of household with 2+ children. Often, the husband has left for the city to earn more money, and some are faithful to supplement the family income.

Meanwhile, Kenya is a cash society where high school costs $300 per student per year for one high school diploma. Food prices are constantly rising as drought continues in East Africa which is compounded by the weakening global economy. These problems do not account for the high cost of everyday needs such as clothing, shelter, health care, electricity and water.

Thika town has direct access to the large agricultural markets in Nairobi. However, these markets are not accessible for small holder farmers because they cannot provide quantities needed for these markets and the cost of transportation is prohibitive. Farmer groups overcome these obstacles, learn business skills, purchase inputs and finance their crops with economies of scale.

We have seen farmer groups drastically change the lives of farming families: children start attending school because the fees are affordable, medical care is sought early while illnesses are minor, cash reserves support the nutritional needs during drought or famine, and farmers start new side businesses with the methods they have learned. There are broad social, economic and educational opportunities for a community where 150 families have doubled their income strengthening the local economy.

Most importantly we have witnessed farmers speaking diligently to their families, friends and associates about Christ. Expanding our farming and business principles to every area of Kenya is a vehicle to share the Gospel, disciple making tools and biblical business principles. The groups are taught and encouraged to take action based on Scripture using discipleship principles to lead their family members through God’s Word. Working with up to 150 farmers, we expect to impact more than 600 friends and family members with the truth of the Gospel.

Past Track Record

Planting Faith’s track record contains projects that were successful and have continued to serve farmers. We also experienced trials such as poor communication among farmers, buyers not fulfilling their commitments, and plant disease. While the trials were difficult, we gleaned new insight and solutions for future project and the farmer’s did not lose money, but learned valuable business tactics.

Planting Faith’s initial project in 2005 was a partnership with the Thika Diocese, Anglican Church of Kenya training eight farmers to grow green beans for a local cannery.  The project earned $1,562.00 or $195.25 per farmer. The following year, Planting Faith worked with 140 farmers growing passion fruit for export, resulting in many farmers earning up to $300.00.

In 2007 and 2008, Planting Faith worked with more than 200 farmers in multiple farmer groups.  These groups pursued the large flower industry in Kenya with Bird of Paradise flowers in Mount Kenya South, Moby Dick flowers in Mount Kenya West and passion fruit in the Mount Kenya Central and Thika dioceses.  These groups have been mostly successful. While the flower market has struggled with the world economy, farmers have patiently sought more profitable crops to grow. For example, the Ngare Ndare group in Mt. Kenya West is successfully growing onions and selling them for as much as five times higher than when they were sold by individuals in the local market. Thika farmers have pursued other crops such as green peppers, and have used their marketing skills as a tool for evangelism, and the Mt. Kenya Central project merged into the Githuuri Rice Project (see below).

By 2008-09 Planting Faith had worked in eight dioceses (of the 28 rural diocese in Kenya), with new projects in Meru, Embu, Kirinyaga and Mbeere. Of those five groups, two successfully made it through the initial crop, repaying loans and initiating new loans to themselves for a second crop. One of those groups is currently on it’s third set of loans and their third successful crop. In those five projects 200 farmers received training through Planting Faith and approximately 800 family members were influenced by our program of Bible based business teaching.

In 2009, the Githuuri Rice Project was started in the Diocese of Mt. Kenya Central as a pilot project to incorporate local micro-finance expertise into our project mix. This project involved extensive business training to induce true ownership and self-sufficiency of the project. Some of the farmers in the project saw yields increase ten-fold over neighbors who were not participating. Our full time involvement with this project lasted through 2010, and we are now simply monitoring progress and helping on an “as needed” basis.

The beginning of 2011 was focused on an evaluation of our Githuuri Rice Project and incorporating the lessons learned from previous projects. Now, all farmers either self-finance or pursue loans from local micro-finance institutions that teach about self-financing agriculture products. This method has thoroughly integrated the projects into the local economy and decreases Planting Faith’s financial need to a third of the former start up cost. Currently, $13,000 annually will cover the costs of community mobilization, project manager salaries and administrative expenses.

Project Leaders and Experience

The Rev. Horace Tipton, founder and executive director of Planting Faith Ministries, will oversee the project’s direction, as he will travel to Kenya four times in the upcoming year, spending in excess of 100 days in the country. Horace has spent his entire working career in farming and agri-business and has eight years experience working with nearly 600 farmers in similar processes at Planting Faith Ministries. He has a B.A. from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and has nearly completed a Masters of Theology at St. Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya. He was ordained and is canonically resident in the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Thika.

Beth Muthoni will manage the project on a day-to-day basis. Beth earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting and business management from Daystar University, her master’s degree from Moi University in banking and finance, and is PhD candidate in business administration from jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. She worked for the Anglican Church of Kenya’s Christian Community Services for seven years 2001-2008, for Planting Faith Ministries for two years 2009-2011, was an adjunct lecturer in accounting within the Kenya university system (2011-2013), and has recently re-joined Planting Faith Ministries as our Country Director.

Susan Kariuki will be assisting in project management, particularly in agricultural technical assistance. Susan is certified in agronomy from Embu University College. She has worked as an agronomist for several agri-business retailers in Kenya for the last 15 years, including owning her own feed, seed and agricultural supply store. She has been working with Planting Faith Ministries for the last two years. She is also a lay reader in the Anglican Church of Kenya, Thika Diocese.

Project Details

1.   Organize: diocesan leaders and parish partners organize farmers that are willing to work hard to enhance yield and profit.

2.   Enroll: groups of 20-30 farmers will start on a regular basis.  The following steps will take one through the life of one farming group, but this process will start on a regular basis for each group.

3.   Instruct: each group begins the Planting Faith curriculum which includes technical service, accounting, finance, marketing, biblical business principles, cooperative management, and local market research, book keeping and record keeping. For the first three months the project manager will work intensely with the new farmer group.

4.   Empower: formalize a cooperative structure, elect leaders, choose a crop as a group, and seek financing. During this time farmers are tending their own land, but making business decisions as a group. It is at this time that individual farmers will decide whether or not they will go forward with the cooperative farming process advocated by Planting Faith. Planting Faith does not pressure anyone to participate in a business venture that he/she does not wish.  Whether they decide to go forward or not, by participating in Planting Faith’s program they will have already learned life-long business principles that will aid them in whatever business they pursue in the future. Those that decide to go forward with the project, will be the farmers with whom Planting Faith works for the next two years.

5.   Farm: farmers integrate production techniques that increase yield or production.  Through the harvest of the first crop and the covering of all expenses (Steps 4-8), the project manager will meet weekly with the farmer group.   

6.   Network: market crop, livestock or poultry to local buyers, using the aggregated quantities and enhanced     quality to negotiate good prices and terms.

7.   Profit: sell the initial crop and disburse earnings to farmers and into the cooperative for the next crop.

8.   Expand use the success of the first crop to seek increased funding to augment the operation, adding more farmers and better production to increase quality and quantity.  After the first harvest, the project manager will check on the group bi-monthly.

9.   Repeat and sustain: in the second year the project manager will meet with the group once a month, or to troubleshoot a specific problem, to ensure the group is becoming self sustaining.

10. Final Evaluation: at the project’s two-year completion a professional, objective evaluator will be hired to evaluate the project’s successes and failures.

Community Involvement

The local community is integral to this project and will absorb all of the production costs through self-financing or loans from local micro-finance institutions and thereby be vested in the success of the project and the repayment of the loans.

This project starts with community organization, through the mobilization of community members and farmers interested in the project.  It is sustained by the farmers themselves or local micro-finance institutions, and it ends with increased income the farmers spend on items in their local community.

Results and Evaluation

The following metrics will be applied to the project including up to 150 farmers and approximately 600 family members:

Year 1:

  • Farmers will realize higher profits as part of the cooperative, compared to individual farming operation so that they may use increased revenues to pay for school fees, electricity or expansion of their businesses.
    • Measure: Group records and select individual farmer interviews, final evaluation
  • Farmer groups will devise a financial plan for future plantings, including income and expense projections. Farmers will apply Planting Faith principles to business ventures, acquiring additional income for their families.
    • Measure:  Year-end financial review for cooperatives, final evaluation
  • Farmers will allot a portion of their farm to income generating, marketable crops in addition to crops associated with food security, such as corn and edible beans.
    • Measure: Farm visits
  •   The Gospel message will be spread through the teaching of Biblical business principles to        up to 150 farmers and encouraged to be spread amongst a total of 600 family members.
    • Measure:  Select personal interviews
  •   Repay loans from micro-finance institutions.  Farmers will be expected to treat all business associates fairly and to expect the same.
    • Measure: All costs are covered; final evaluation.

Year 2:

  • Produce a second crop (or in the case of livestock or poultry – continued investment and production) with yields comparable to or better than first year, due to several possible factors: 1) group expansion, 2) more sustained involvement of first year participants (inevitably, there are nay-sayers within every group at first – they must be shown the project works), and 3) greater knowledge and experience of first year participants.
    • Measure: Comparison Records of quantities sold to buyers, final evaluation
  • Farmer Groups transition to working autonomously: navigating production, financing, and markets as a viable profit-producing business. People start to speak the gospel to one another and steer their businesses accordingly.
    • Measure: Planting Faith serves in an advisory capacity.  The project manager only visits group to check on progress, answer questions and help in times of abnormal distress due to crop failure, business problems or group organizational difficulties. Final evaluation.

Timeline

The project will commence in January 2014 and conclude by December 2015.

Budget and Cost of Project

The Thika Farmer Groups project will cost $50,000.00 over a two-year period.  We are asking ARDF to fund a two-year program to help up to 150 farmers in Thika, asking ARDF to fund only salary, transportation, communication, administration, community mobilization and final evaluation expenses – not agricultural production costs – for a total commitment of only $32,500.

Budget

Agricultural Production Costs:         $17,500 (from self-financing or MFI over two years)

Year One

Project Manager                              $8,500

Transportation                                      1,500

Communication                                       300

Administration                                      3,250

Community Mobilization                     1,200

Year One Total                                $14,750

Year Two

Project Manager                               $8,500

Transportation                                      1,500

Communication                                      300

Administration                                      3,250

Community Mobilization                     1,200

Final Evaluation                                   3,000

Year Two Sub-Total                          $17,750

Total Requested from ARDF                     $32,500

Total Project Cost                             $50,000

Financial Sustainability

Following the two-year investment from the ARDF the Thika farmer groups will be financially self-sufficient. The farmer owned businesses will generate income, have cash reserves, and seek investment from themselves or local micro-finance institutions for new projects. We are not starting dependent programs, but independent, locally run, viable businesses.

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