PhD Reconnaissance site visit to Kisumu, Kenya
In January 2016, the PhDs employed in this research project went for a reconnaissance visit to Kisumu. Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya and one of the research sites for this project. The team consisted of 2 PhD candidates and the Kenyan consortium partners of the “Women Food Entrepreneurs in Kenya and Burkina Faso: Building inclusive business models for food security in the city slums of Kisumu and Ouagadougou” research project. The five days visit was an opportunity to interact with the farming groups, and various public and private actors who are involved in food entrepreneurship in the urban and peri-urban areas in Kisumu.
First, the team visited the three research sites in Kisumu’s informal settlements. These mainly constituted groups of farmers and food traders in Nyalenda, Kibuye and Obunga slums. The farmers, who are both men and women, produce a variety of food crops and a few of them practice fish farming. Vegetables are popular among the farmers due to the readily available market and high yields. According to these farmers, flooding, pests, land ownership and soil quality are some of the challenges they face as food producers. In Nyalenda, the farmers mulch and inter-crop their vegetables in order to improve the soil quality. They have also previously tested their soils at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).
Secondly, the team visited the Jubilee and Kibuye market as research interest sites where food is sold. In both markets, middlemen play a large role in determining the price of food while bridging the gap between the farmers and the market sellers. Food prices fluctuate depending on when different food items are harvested, and weather patterns. When prices are up, the farmers often go directly to the traders to get better returns. The traders in Jubilee and Kondele require large volumes of food items to meet the large demand from local consumers and retail traders. Therefore, the market traders source for the produce both locally and from other towns, where the food items are available in bulk. At Kibuye market, some of the traders have begun a ‘compost manure production project’ from the large volumes of organic waste generated in the market. They sell the finished product to farmers at a profit, who use it as fertilizers. Challenges in the market include food getting spoilt leading to losses, lack of space and theft.
An important part of this reconnaissance was a workshop that brought together farmers, food processors, researchers and government policy makers on the 19th of January 2016. This workshop was an opportunity to introduce our research project to key stakeholders in the community and get their input at the beginning of the research project. The participants were enthusiastic about cooperation between the stakeholders to understand and solve the different challenges faced by food entrepreneurs. As a result of this workshop, the team visited the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) offices in Kisumu to understand the food processing, value addition and preservation techniques that the government facility has to offer. Here, KIRDI looks to do research on products in cooperation with entrepreneurs and help them develop products for the market. KIRDI sees working with our project as an opportunity for food entrepreneurs to realize value addition for their produce.
The stakeholders expressed their interest to partner with this research project and requested for regular updates and feedback on the research progress. Hence, the reconnaissance visit has set the foundation for developing a research process that will contribute towards strengthening women’s food entrepreneurship in city slums and building inclusive business models for food security.
For more information, please contact , PhD candidate in Governance and Inclusive Development at University of Amsterdam and member of the research group.