In a nutshell

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Location Kenya
Sustainable Development Goal Zero Hunger

Project timeline 

"Project is 0.7551204517% completed "

The Challenge

Climate change is already threatening rural communities and smallholder farmers across East Africa. In 2019 and 2020 alone, the region has weathered several severe climate-related disasters, including the unprecedentedly destructive Cyclone Idai, prolonged drought and Kenya’s worst locust outbreak in 70 years. Along with a warming trend that threatens crop yields and the very habitability of some areas, these climate shocks pose an existential threat to millions of rural farmers living in poverty. Scalable, sustainable interventions that increase rural climate resilience while strengthening livelihoods are urgently needed.

About 200 000 farmers in Kenya supplement their incomes and livelihoods by cultivating macadamia nuts, a high-value export crop that grows quickly and is resilient to drought. Macadamia cultivation is particularly attractive for women and young people as it doesn’t require access to a lot of land. Certain varieties of macadamia are unlikely to thrive in the face of long-term climate shifts, however, and a lack of research and investment leave the farmers who grow it ill equipped to adapt at pace.

The Approach

Building on Root Capital’s “credit plus capacity” model, this project will enable macadamia enterprises and the farmers who supply them to take timely, data-driven action to adapt to climate shifts and support the resilience of the suppliers and enterprises alike.

Specific activities supported by the Swiss Re Foundation include:

  • Root Capital’s Digital Business Intelligence on-site services, which equip enterprises to collect and work with supplier information in an easy-to-use database including information such as farmers’ locations and production details. Enterprises can use this tool to analyse likely climate impacts and understand the business case for targeted farmer-level investment.
  • Yearly climate risk sensitisation and planning workshops to help enterprises interpret climate risk information specific to their region and crop and the implications for their businesses and suppliers as well as to start identifying ways to manage climate-related risks (including insurance).
  • A multi-faceted Agronomic & Climate Resilience Advisory service that enhances the ability of enterprises’ small agronomic teams to build farmers’ resilience at scale. The service can include tailored on-site capacity building, support with implementing innovative digital extension services and placement of recent agronomy graduates within enterprises to strengthen expertise and outreach.

Goals and expected impact

The project aims to enable seven small and growing agricultural businesses to design, fund and implement data-driven climate resilience plans for their businesses, improving the lives of 20 000 macadamia nut farmers and farm employees as well as a total of more than 80 000 family members.

It will measure the reach of Root Capital’s digital extension services as well as smallholder farmers’ and agri-businesses’ income, growing knowledge of climate-smart agriculture practices and the amount of additional investment (working capital loans) mobilised over time.

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Our partner

Root Capital is a nonprofit whose mission is to grow rural prosperity and build the resilience of farming families around the world. The organization provides credit and capacity building to agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities.

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