Agricultural Livelihoods

Helping young farmers earn an income they can rely on

IKEA Foundation awards Practical Action a €6.4 million grant to help smallholder farmers in Kenya

The IKEA Foundation is happy to award Practical Action a grant of €6.4 million. It will be used to help young people in Kisumu and Homa Bay in Kenya to earn a decent income through sustainable farming and agricultural businesses. Together, we want to break the cycle of increasing poverty in these rural communities.

Smallholder farmers face many challenges. They struggle to access fertile land to grow their crops and don’t have the money to invest in seeds and equipment. Poor farming conditions lead to harvests that are too small to enable farmers to feed their families and sell their produce for income. It’s no surprise that agriculture does not appeal to young people who want to earn a decent living. And as they seek other ways to support themselves, rural communities suffer.

Practical Action helps smallholder farmers to achieve a decent standard of living, while protecting the environment and building the resources that they already have.

Young farmer in Zimbabwe proudly shows the results of sustainable farming

Paul Smith Lomas, CEO, Practical Action, sees this as a great opportunity to demonstrate the positive impact that a more sustainable approach can have.

“At Practical Action, we believe deeply that smallholder farmers can make a good living, while protecting the natural resources around them. This is an approach known as agroecology, which values people and planet as much as profit. We’re excited to be demonstrating this in Kenya with the IKEA Foundation, with whom we proudly share so many of the same values.”

Under this project, 6,000 young women and men will be trained in agroecology and enterprise skills. But the project involves much more than just training, as Paul explains:

“To achieve lasting change, the whole agricultural system needs to be transformed. We will work with local government departments on policy, affordable credit facilities and fair markets to create the conditions that are required for sustainable agriculture to thrive.”

The long-term effects extend far beyond the 6,000 young people who are directly involved in the programme. By improving access to knowledge, skills and resources this project will positively impact more than 80,000 young people.

Annelies Withofs, Programme Manager at the IKEA Foundation, is keen to use the learning from this project to drive change on a bigger scale:

“Through this partnership, we hope to build an evidence base that proves to others that helping young people build livelihoods based on agroecology has a positive effect on the local economy. We’re committed to transforming sustainable agriculture into a viable career that enables young people in rural areas to afford a better life. We want to pioneer alternative approaches that can be applied in other communities and other developing countries.”

Young farmer in Zimbabwe proudly shows the results of sustainable farming