Case Study: Influencing at scale: The Kenya Honey Sector
In Kenya, Christian Aid, have used a Participatory Market Systems Analysis to bring together different actors in the honey sector, and identify constraints to market access for marginalized, rural honey producers.
Christian Aid identified that the issues affecting the honey sector could not all be resolved at farm level. In order to address this, Christian Aid, brought together key market stakeholders including beekeepers, buyers, processors, and government representatives.
Christian Aid chose to take a holistic approach, analyse the market system as a whole and engaging key market stakeholders from across the honey sector in order to embed any interventions within the sector itself.
The PMSA process has been key in this – taking time to bring the actors together has enabled the project to design a sector changing honey hubs intervention, and brokered relationships, and raised awareness and ownership of issues in the sector across the honey supply chain. This has stimulated better market functioning for the long term benefiting small holder beekeepers in rural areas and incentivising local entrepreneurs to engage in honey value chain.
Through the process a common understanding and appreciation of the issues facing all sector players and those preventing small holder beekeepers to draw fair share of value from the value chain were identified, and links and networks were formed. Most importantly, the sector players prioritized addressing the challenge of poor coordination to unlock the potential of the sector to the benefit of all players.
The constraints to the growth and inclusiveness of the sector that were identified in the honey market forum included the low quality and volume of honey produced, widely dispersed producers, a lack of farmer level organisation, limited access to markets by small holder beekeepers, and limited access to finance.
Source: From Christian AID Kenya - Honey Pilot Learning Document
The analysis that came out of the forums identified a number of interconnected issues that all contribute to low production levels and low quality – factors that make Kenyan honey uncompetitive and which stagnate the sector.
The need to work closely with farmers to enhance their capacity prior to bringing them before other market actors, so that they are able to see the bigger picture and appreciate the roles of everyone along the value chain, and market system in general.
Getting the right people in the room
This was a constant refrain from Practical Action and from the onset the PMSD Pilot dedicated a lot of energy in ensuring it got the right people in the room. This translates as:
- Representation from across the sector
- Decision makers who can drive sustainable market change
- Influential players (e.g. those with technical expertise, those whose commitment can stimulate others)
The Kenya pilot reiterated the fact that the process is fundamentally about relationships and trust and that we need to spend time getting these right.
The process of facilitating change is dynamic and fluid, hence the need to adopt and change tact as the project progresses is important to enhance the anticipated outcomes. Moreover, having an external eye, critically looking and asking questions on anticipated delivery options adds value.
Ailsa Buckley, lead PAC facilitator of this PMSD Honey Pilot, made the following point in response to this report:
Market development must be allowed to be flexible and responsive to the market. In traditional programmes, managers specify the steps leading to the achievement of programme outputs at the outset and then, for the most part, follow them. Market development programmes show that a more flexible, entrepreneurial approach is needed. Markets can change rapidly and often react to facilitators’ efforts in unexpected ways. Experience has shown that facilitators must be free to respond to the market, taking advantage of opportunities and changing strategies as appropriate.
Facilitation is key. If you do not get this right, nothing will work!
The overall Christian Aid honey project was divided into four phases:
- the PMSD process;
- theory testing;
- hub pilots; and
- scale up.
It was been phased so it can be reactive to changes in the honey market and retain the full buy-in of the honey farmers involved.
Specific efforts were made to equip and empower marginalised honey farmers. Through the PMSD process a common understanding and appreciation of the issues facing all sector players were identified, and links and networks were formed. Most importantly, the sector players prioritised addressing the challenge of poor coordination through support to the Kenya Honey Council to unlock the potential of the sector to the benefit of all players. Equally, building the capacity of small holder beekeepers through training and technology transfer, targeted 10,000 poor and marginalised honey producers across four of Kenya’s most hard-to reach counties.
Once this joint plan was agreed, Christian Aid decided how it would target its support to the sector – this ensured any funding was strategic and aimed at resolving key issues facing the marginalised honey farmers that other actors were not addressing. Christian Aid chose to focus on addressing two key barriers to market for the honey farmers – access to finance and access to markets.
Their development model utilizes “honey hubs.” These hubs apply quality control, develop relationships with buyers and service providers, and guarantee access to markets for small holder beekeepers. The beekeepers were organised into self-help groups that would evolve into cooperatives to facilitate access to finance. The interventions aim to develop an efficient, competitive and growing honey sector that provides income and opportunities across the market system and specifically that provides small scale producers with a profitable, resilient livelihood opportunities.
Christian Aid chose to take a holistic approach, engaging market stakeholders from across the honey sector in order to embed any interventions within the sector itself. The PMSD process has been key in this – taking time to bring the actors together has not only enabled Christian Aid to design a sector changing intervention, but has brokered relationships, and raised awareness and ownership of issues in the sector across the honey supply chain that have stimulated better market functioning for the long term.
Recent developments in the Christian Aid Kenya Honey Program:
Although it is recognised that market systems cannot be facilitated to their maximum potential by focusing on community and production issues, the constraints faced by producing communities and their behaviour patterns remain a crucial part of the puzzle – market facilitation must involve all actors and a true understanding of how they are likely to act.
For communities and their diverse members, this relates to livelihood risk, inertia, culture and, quite understandably, confidence that the market will actually deliver in line with changes. Their reluctance to take up new approaches should be recognised as an integral part of the system.
With the value chain being formed through the Nyuki hub limited, which was set up by Christian aid, in partnership with the local market actors. The Hive, acting as a supplier of equipment and training, and linking to the exporters of high value honey. As the system cannot rely on the local honey market alone. A shift to high value export honey is required, which involves community members, in sufficient numbers, adopting new and expensive equipment. Again, it is highly understandable that there is reluctance to take the risk involved in these investments.
To counter this barrier, Christian Aid Kenya is intending to work with communities to sensitise key members (lead Beekeepers – Honey Champions) initially to the potentiality of substantial income generation opportunities. Through producing high-value honey through moving from traditional log hives to modern hives such as Langstroth and CAB’ hives. The productivity and price of honey from these hives is drastically increased and provides improved cultivation conditions for farmers.
Champions in the more collaborative communities will be provided with hives (with repayment schemes agreed) in return for providing demonstration sites for the wider community to witness mobile processing. Incomes will be divided between the producer and the community honey organisations, serving as motivation for producers and for the community to form relevant institutions. The importance of these community organisations should not be overlooked as a crucial part of the broader value chain system.
In terms of the system design and dynamics, it is important to note two things:
- That commercial viability, at least in the initial formation stages, refers to the entire value chain and not to the individual actors and enterprises. The Nyuki hubs will be subsidised by The Hive in the short term to achieve the ‘quantum leap’ in providing an end to end value chain system, which is very much in their long-term interest. Furthermore, the provision of training and loans, in the form of advances, provides the opportunity for access for communities.
- The trust and governance systems can be enhanced by this provision of finance and services in advance of production and increases the awareness of interlinked systems thinking among all actors.
Christian Aid is applying a ‘minimum viable model’ approach to value chain development. The first requirement is to ensure that a sustainable end to end value chain is in place which is agreeable to all actors. This provides a window of opportunity to build on the ‘skeleton’ model to allow for opportunities for growth and streamlining.
Christian Aid is clear that, although the Nyuki Hub model provides an immediate enabling role in transitioning to a sustainable value chain for both export and traditional honey, the model will adapt and develop. Replication by other market actors, creation of more cost effective, locally produced hives, which are compatible with commercial processing equipment, local entrepreneurs replacing the role of the Nyuki Hubs and even The Hive are all welcomed through local initiatives in the formation of a more complex and robust market system. If, in time, the Nyuki Hubs are no longer viable or necessary in this new system, they will be either facilitated to adapt to a new role, or will be allowed to close.
CAID Kenya Honey Sector Video