Science - September 15, 2005

New training institute in Kenya

Kenyan universities are to set up a training institute together with local horticulturalists to train managers for horticulture. The Netherlands Institute for Agricultural Economics (LEI) and the International Agricultural Centre (IAC) were responsible for bring the parties together that will form the institute.

You can find green beans or sugar snaps from Kenya in almost every Dutch supermarket . Many of these come from large-scale farms run by foreign – often Dutch – investors. However, there are also many small-scale Kenyan farmers who not only grow food crops for their own consumption, but also have a small plot with chilli peppers, passion fruit, green beans or flowers. Their products reach the Dutch importers through other bigger growers. LEI is now working on improving cooperation between the big producers, unions and small-scale market gardeners at the request of the Dutch ministries of agriculture and development cooperation.

The objective is to jointly identify the problems and formulate projects to solve these problems, according to Andre de Jager of LEI. One of the problems for example is the lack of suitably trained local managers for middle-sized horticulture enterprises. Kenyan universities want to set up a training institute together with the Kenyan horticultural sector to train managers. The idea is that the universities will supply the infrastructure needed and the horticultural sector will be able to indicate what they want to see on the curriculum, explains De Jager.

Another problem with flower growing is that it is strongly dominated by roses. Big producers control rose growing because roses require substantial investments. To increase opportunities for small-scale producers, a Dutch importer has started to experiment with small farmers growing field flowers near to a larger producer. De Jager is leading this project, and will also identify similar opportunities in Tanzania and Uganda. / JT

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