Action - Feed the Future: The U.S. Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative - Promotion of food security and agriculture - Adult men and women

Programme: Feed the Future: The U.S. Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative

Programme description

Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is establishing a lasting foundation for progress against global hunger. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger, poverty, and undernutrition. Feed the Future efforts are driven by country-led priorities and rooted in partnership with donor organizations, the private sector, and civil society to enable long-term success. Feed the Future aims to assist millions of vulnerable women, children, and family members to escape hunger and poverty, while also reaching significant numbers of children with highly effective nutrition interventions to prevent stunting and child mortality.

Over the next five years in Kenya, Feed the Future aims to help an estimated 502,000 vulnerable Kenyan women, children and family members—mostly smallholder farmers—escape hunger and poverty. More than 230,000 children will be reached with services to improve their nutrition and prevent stunting and child mortality. Significant numbers of additional rural populations will achieve improved income and nutritional status from strategic policy engagement and institutional investments.

To meet its objectives, Feed the Future Kenya is making core investments in three key areas:

  1. Maize and Drought-Tolerant Staple Crop Value Chain  Kenya’s maize subsector is approaching a critical time when input supply characteristics, land reform, availability of supporting factors of production, and market price dynamics will define the competitiveness of the industry in the mid to long term. This environment presents an opportune moment for the U.S. Government’s current and future investments. At the same time, there has been a dearth of investment in alternative staple crops and, as a result, there is a lack of data. In collaboration with the private sector, Feed the Future will support value chain assessments that deepen and fill gaps in existing knowledge.
  2. Dairy Value Chain  Africa is a large net importer of milk products, and demand is growing as urbanization accelerates and incomes increase on the continent. Kenya’s dairy industry is one of the largest and most developed in Africa. Strengthening the dairy sector to meet growing domestic demand and to compete regionally can only be achieved by promoting profitable production of high quality milk at farm level and the more efficient movement of volumes of milk between farmers and processors—thereby leading to higher levels of processor plant capacity and lower consumer prices.
  3. Horticulture Value Chain  While local market demand for new and better horticulture products is high, growth has been constrained by chaotic and unhygienic urban market facilities that keep prices high and quality low. To take advantage of the strong market opportunities, Kenyan growers, traders, processors, exporters, and policy makers need access to timely and accurate production and market information. They must also comply with food safety and environmental and ethical trade practices. Moreover, for smallholders to increase and diversify their production, expanded adoption of on-farm water capture and storage, drip irrigation, precision fertilizer systems, greenhouses, and other technologies will be essential. Feed the Future Kenya helps to foster technology transfer; strengthen linkages between growers, microprocessors, and larger-scale secondary processors; build the capacity of national institutions and trade associations; and obtain consensus on enabling environmental policies.

Target Regions

Feed the Future is targeting high-rainfall areas with dense populations, high poverty and malnourishment, as well as semi-arid areas. Both areas have great potential for raising agricultural productivity. These target areas also encompass the highest concentrations of malnourished children, female-headed households, and rural poor.


Science and Technology. U.S. support to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute focuses on research on crops for the semi-arid zone, including improved seeds, pest control, and food safety for maize, sorghum, millet, sweet potato, cowpea, and pigeon pea. Feed the Future also works with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services to increase quality and availability of drought-tolerant crops and varieties.

Engaging Women and Youth. Feed the Future supports activities that empower women and improve the nutritional status of women and children. Women manage an estimated 44 percent of Kenya’s smallholder households and are active at every point in the food chain. Their contribution to commodities, grown mainly in home gardens, is quite significant, providing essential nutrients and often the only food available during the lean seasons or when the main harvest fails. Feed the Future will also engage youth in farming, processing and trading to relieve high levels of youth unemployment. More than 67 percent of the under- and unemployed in Kenya are young women and men of 15 to 30 years of age.

Value Chains. Feed the Future is focusing its efforts on improving several key agricultural value chains: horticulture, dairy and maize for the High Rainfall (HR) areas; and drought-tolerant crops (sorghum/millet and root crop systems), drought-tolerant maize, horticulture, and pulses for Semi-Arid (SA) areas. Attention is focused on every “link” in the value chain—from inputs like fertilizer and seeds, to credit, to production methods, storage, transport, processing, farmers’ cooperatives, and markets in Kenya, East Africa and overseas.

Programme type




Start date:


End date:

High rainfall zone 1
Target group: 
Adult men and women
Implementation details : 


The FTFS will build on the Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program (KDSCP), currently running through April 2013, which aims to improve Kenya’s dairy industry competitiveness, and increase the economic benefits to stakeholders in the entire dairy value chain. However, the KDSCP is only operating in the Central, Rift Valley and a small section of Western Provinces due to high density of dairy cattle and favorable agro-ecological conditions necessary for dairy production.

To improve productivity, KDSCP works with male and female dairy farmers to facilitate their transition from loosely organized groups into sustainable business associations able to either access or provide expanded and diversified services to their members. The KDSCP’s BDS approach facilitates service provision to all actors along the value chain, using a wide range of change agents to train farmers on productivity-enhancing technologies to increase production per cow and reduce costs of production. Fodder preservation is the key to smoothing milk flows over the entire year, and new fodder varieties developed by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) can improve nutrition and decrease feed costs while increasing milk production. An emerging technology developed by International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) to control crops pests has spillover benefits for dairy. Planting of desmodium and napier grass at specific locations in crop fields controls cereal pests; these crops are also excellent fodder for dairy. Interestingly, it appears that women are more likely than men and youth to adopt many of these feed technologies.

Renewed efforts will be required to bring down the cost of high quality semen, so that smallholders can afford to use AI and improve the genetic potential of their animals. Efficiency of AI can be increased by improving farmers’ ability to recognize correct breeding times and improved skills of inseminators.
Milk cooling centers – a key change agent – provide an excellent platform for producers to access goods and services. The centers enable producers to bulk and chill milk as well as consolidate their needs for services and goods, thereby making it more efficient for the private sector to engage with smallholders. Processors are also key change agents whereby, through a ―check off system,‖ farmers are supplied with feed and AI and vet services, and pay for those services by having the processor deduct costs from each producer’s milk sales. Many banks that lend to dairy farmers require that they have contracts with these processors in order to guarantee their loans.

KDSCP currently focuses much of its activities on dairy quality standards, and assisting farmers, traders and processors to adopt practices that will improve the quality of milk. It works through private and public sector service providers to train smallholder dairy farmers on milk testing techniques, disease prevention and testing with modern technologies. Business Development Service (BDS) providers also facilitate farmer associations to negotiate long-term supply contracts with processors, and to receive premiums for chilled milk. More work is required, however, towards establishing premiums for other important attributes, such as butterfat content. Market information is now more widely accessible to producers through working groups that act to better coordinate the local dairy sector.

It will be important to increase the capacity of cooling centers to implement quality control frameworks, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), and provide assistance to acquire International Standards Organization (ISO) or equivalent quality certification. Achieving these levels of quality will be essential for Kenyan milk to enter COMESA and other international markets. Support to the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) and the East and Southern African Dairy Association – important partners in moving Kenya towards meeting regional standards for dairy products – will also help expand Kenya’s reach into COMESA markets.

With increased organization of producers into business associations, producers will be able to increase their investments in herds through upgrading breed quality and investing in feed and animal health technologies. Service providers will have expanded demand for their goods and services (e.g., silage making equipment and forage choppers) and some, such as processors, will have an incentive to invest in expanded facilities. Some examples of investment include Nestlé’s investment in upgrading a milk powder plant at the Kenya Creameries Cooperative (KCC), while the Brookside Dairy has set up a new powder plant. Farmer-owned chilling plants have invested in trucks to transport milk to processors, and two Kenyan insurance agencies are offering insurance products to farmers.

As banks become more knowledgeable about the risks and opportunities in the dairy sector, they are increasingly lending to the sector. Several banks have come forward to finance dairy investments by using guarantee mechanisms to decrease their risk. Access to rural finance will be further improved through USAID’s FIRM Project which, in collaboration with DFID, has established a Value Chain Finance Center to promote financial access through the rural areas for firms all along the value chain.

The FIRM Project (currently running through CY 2013) has conducted a dairy value chain finance analysis that identified profitability at key parts of the value chain. Banks will increase lending in those areas of the value chain that have the most banking potential, thereby increasing investment in the sector. It will be important to identify the less bankable parts of the value chain, such as the dairy feed sector, and concentrate support to improve bankability in those parts to further develop the dairy industry.

The dairy sector also has great potential to contribute to improved NRM practices, so current and future implementers will incorporate best management practices for improved grazing, pasture management, and ―cut and carry‖ techniques to enhance productivity and ecosystem function. This will include encouraging farmers to grow fodder varieties that are complementary to annual crop production, e.g., varieties that are nitrogen fixing or important for biological control of crop pests. Such practices can have co-benefits to staple crop production since inter-cropping certain fodder varieties with annual crops (―evergreen agriculture‖) can increase crop productivity. Manure and run-off from dairy can become environmental and health hazards, but properly managed manure can contribute greatly to improved soil fertility and soil quality, including the retention of water and important soil nutrients. Use of manure is a critical component of integrated soil fertility management and thus, for dairy farmers who also cultivate crops, this is another important co-benefit. Additionally, the generation of biogas will become increasingly important as a source of energy for households as electricity and kerosene become more expensive. Consequently, the nexus between dairy farming and agriculture and ―clean energy‖ will be another area of opportunity to be addressed during the course of the Strategy’s implementation.

These interventions will be particularly important as one aspect of adapting to climate change, and producers will need training in these technologies and practices.
More dairy products available at lower costs encourage increased consumption of this nutrition rich product among lower-income groups. KDSCP works in the informal milk chain where women, the youth and very-poor dominate. Gender sensitive programming and improving quality standards naturally fits with increasing nutritional opportunities in the informal milk chain because mothers often are responsible for child rearing. Not only availing more dairy products and improving milk quality, but increasing messaging about the nutritional benefits of dairy products will encourage consumption of this nutritionally packed food product. Also, improving the informal milk chain will enhance economic benefits for women who dominate informal milk trade and rural youth engaged in off-farm milk transport services.

New support to and capacity building of various GOK and stakeholder organizations will be important to identify issues constraining Kenya’s dairy sector competitiveness. The ongoing KDSCP, however, is building capacity of the Dairy Task Force, with a focus on policy advocacy. The rejuvenated Task Force is currently leading the implementation of policy changes and action plans that are critical to the dairy sector. Assessments of key issues have provided the necessary analyses to inform stakeholders and GOK decision makers. The Task Force is increasing the interaction among value chain actors, the GOK and development partners, and has seen increased efficiencies in the sector, both for donor projects as well as private sector investments. The Dairy Master Plan – which was initially shelved due to inadequate collaboration – is now back on track.

Target population size : 
Estimated 502,000 vulnerable Kenyan women, children and family members—mostly smallholder farmers—escape hunger and poverty. More than 230,000 children will be reached with services to improve their nutrition and prevent stunting and child mortality.
Coverage level (%): 
Outcome indicator(s): 
  • Increase incomes through intensification & market linkages
  • Increase incomes through higher value crops, market linkages & resiliency
M&E system: 

The Mission is currently reviewing options for reinforcing its existing monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework by establishing a comprehensive knowledge management system that builds links to ongoing initiatives aimed at strengthening U.S. Government, national and regional agriculture sector-wide M&E and knowledge management.

USAID/K will link to the GOK-led and CAADP-mandated ―National Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation System‖ which will serve as a mutually agreed framework for performance monitoring towards the goal of increasing food security. The Mission also will link its knowledge management system to the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS), an information and knowledge management initiative, to promote and support effective and sustainable agricultural and rural development strategies across Africa. Through ReSAKSS, the Mission will collaborate with the USAID/EA and other Missions in Africa in tracking intra-regional trade data. The Mission will also use ReSAKSS to provide meta-analyses contributing to synthesized studies suitable for shared learning by numerous stakeholders.

The Mission will utilize the following tools in establishing and maintaining its M&E efforts: The Mission’s FTFS Results Framework which is the conceptual and analytical structure that establishes the goals and objectives of the FTF Initiative in Kenya; A performance monitoring/management plan (PMP) comprised of standard and custom FTF performance indicators to track progress toward desired results. Data systems will be developed and refined based on findings of a Mission-wide data quality assessment (DQA) carried out in March/April 2011; Tegemeo Institute poverty analyses in conjunction with Africa Bureau/Sustainable Development Office (AFR/SD); The Mission will undertake local capacity-building investments to improve the quality and frequency of data collection and use; Biannual independent indicator surveys by Tegemeo Institute to gauge progress made towards achieving results and a feedback loop to improve performance; Mid-term and impact evaluations will be carried out to determine the measureable effects of the FTFS investments; and The Mission will engage in regular knowledge-sharing activities with FTFS development partners and implementers to foster learning and use of M&E findings.

Number of new technologies or management practices made available for transfer as a result of USG assistance; Number of rural households benefiting directly from USG interventions; Number of producers organizations, water users associations, trade and business associations, and community-based organizations (CBOs) receiving USG assistance; Percentage of children < 5 years who are underweight

Number of new technologies or management practices made available for transfer as a result of USG assistance; Number of rural households benefiting directly from USG interventions; Number of producers organizations, water users associations, trade and business associations, and community-based organizations (CBOs) receiving USG assistance; Percentage of children < 5 years who are underweight

Outcome reported by social determinants: 
Socio-economic status


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