BBV-LIZ invited three kenyan women to participate in Exposure-Seminars of GIZ in Feldafing, Germany. Let´s see, whether to experience the truth of this headline.
The team of GIZ in Feldafing elaborated two Seminares for particpants of various countries two Seminars. One about "Food Processing", the other one about "Leadership for Organic Business and Marketing Training". Both seminars consisted of a broad range of topics and excursions.
We have asked the three participants, Esther Murigi, Judith Libaisi and Josephine Seurey for an interview about their impressions.
Let´s start with Esther Murigi, she attended the "Food Processing"-Seminar.
Esther receiving her certificate in Feldafing.
1. Please tell us about yourself I am budding agri-prenuer doubling as a risk management and insurance professional. Grateful to have seen 37 trips around the sun, born and bred in Embu County by parents who loved and supported Agricultural value addition practices. Am also blessed with a husband and 2 children, a family that keeps my ambitions high and passion grounded and focused especially on women empowerment.
2. We have only invited WoFaAK Members to these trainings. We would like to hear: How did you hear about the rural women's association "WoFaAK"? Do you have an honorary position with WoFaAK? My first interaction with WoFaAK was through the Mrs Winnie Muriithi, a woman I closely hold close as my mentor and a change catalyst towards women empowerment. I became member of the association as well as a champion for Embu county, a course I strongly believe in and trust will change the course for young women in Embu through exchange forums and support system.
3. You have participated in the GIZ food processing seminar in Feldafing. How was the exchange with the other seminar participants, from which countries did they come? The exchange in Feldafing on food processing was an eye-opening opportunity from meeting participants from across the globe, India, Nigeria, Benin, Ivory coast, Mozambique, Ethiopia and my country mates from Kenya whom I met for the first time, to learning and seeing practically agri businesses and futuristic ideas .
4. can you tell us something about the seminar contents. What was it about? The Seminar was memorable in many facets, the biggest being on product development on value added food production and packaging of food to increase the shelf life.
5. What did you remember most about the seminar and why? I am still over joyed by the gracious opportunity accorded by WoFaAK through GIZ and Bavaria Women to me to attend the Agri-processing seminar in Germany in the month of October. My very first visit to Germany, and a visit that will remain closely held based on the learnings, experiences and the networks created.
6. Can you use at home what you have learned? If so, what would that be? The experience is useful and can easily be implemented at home especially on the process of product development through a team brainstorm session and prioritization to ensure market relevance and sustainability of the offering. I also learnt a lot from other colleagues on processing opportunities and challenges via their experiences.
Three Weeks later the next Exposure Seminar started in Feldfing, near Munich: Leadership for Organic Business and Marketing Training. Let´s start with Judith Libaisi.
I am a rural development specialist with demonstrated experience working at the base (fieldwork), intermediary and the top (policy making) levels in the agricultural sector in Eastern Africa. I started my career at a membership-based farmers’ organization- Kenya National Farmers Federation (KENAFF) whose core mandate was lobby and advocacy. This is where my passion for leadership, gender/women empowerment, policy and advocacy was initiated and nurtured. As a professional, I have been able to assist and conduct research on various themes such as on gender, food security, climate change, biodigesters and have published. I hold a Master of Development-Rural Development and HIV/AIDS from Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences-Netherlands; Msc Disaster management and Sustainable development from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology-Kenya and a Bsc in Agricultural Education and Extension from Egerton University. I have been involved in design, development, and implementation of diverse development projects in Eastern Africa region with Development agencies such as the Netherlands Development Organization-SNV, Rain Forest Alliance, USAID, Hivos among others.
2. We have only invited WoFaAK Members to these trainings. We would like to hear: How did you hear about the rural women's association "WoFaAK"? Do you have an honorary position with WoFaAK? If yes, which one? What does that mean in practice?
I learnt about Women Farmers Association of Kenya from former colleagues and friends-Janet Omollo and Daphne Muchai. I enrolled to be a member from 2020 as a Champion-and Individual Category that caters for professionals. I am not a board member, but I am involved in training members as a trainer. I support trainings on leadership and governance, and agribusiness trainings.
3. You have participated in the GIZ food processing seminar in Feldafing. How was the exchange with the other seminar participants, from which countries did they come?
I participated in the Leadership for Organic Business and Marketing Training at Feldafing/Germany, 29.11. - 07.12.2022. where we were 20 participants from Western and Eastern Africa (Malawi, Kenya, Mali, Cameroun, Benin) and India. the participants were GIZ staff from the Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food sectors, GIZ partners, Farmer leaders, Organic food producers, processors and marketers. This provided a very good ground for interactions; we had French and English speakers and translation services were provided. We managed to interact and share experiences from various value chains-the western African participants were more keen on pineapples, cocoa and mangoes. Where as India, Malawi and Kenya were following on indigenous vegetables and ground nuts. We managed to exchange ideas both for primary and secondary procession, improving our production knowledge and generally share games such as board games and bowling over drinks.
4. Can you tell us something about the seminar contents. What was it about?
This seminar was about Leadership in organic business and marketing. It came at the right time of my career as well as interactions with WoFaAK rural women in Kakamega county-where I train on agribusiness. I say this because I realize that smallholder women farmers are faced with the challenge of adapting to climate change. The course offered me an opportunity to learn appropriate solutions on a multidimensional scale to be able to adapt to climate change. I learnt solutions that organic agriculture and agroecology provide farmers with tools to bridge the ecological, social and economic divides. I strengthened my entrepreneurial and leadership skills with this vision, I feel confident that I can move forward with confidence to trigger the necessary changes for more sustainable food systems. I am equipped with skills and knowledge to play a leading role in innovative and sustainable market systems in the agriculture sector and particularly for WoFaaK in Kenya. I learnt how to bridge the gap between the business aspects of organic production & marketing while not forgetting relevant crosscutting issues such as leadership, gender & youths. Through practical field excursions I learnt how to analyzing economic demands to organic production; Knowing possible and innovative marketing approaches and how to interlink producers & consumers.
We visited farmers, marketers and fruits and vegetable wholesalers market in Munich. We had a guided farm tour at Klostergut Schlehdorf- A farmer cooperative practising eco-social agriculture has a farm shop, cows, vegetables, sheep, and cows. They are Naturland certified and have diverse marketing channels. They have experienced leadership challenges and are also in debt. This gave an insight that farmer organizations have similar problems all over.
Another excursion was on Biogärtnerei Holzmann’s farm -horticulture farm where Mr. Holzmann together with his partner he is growing organic vegetables, potted herbs and organic ornamental plants. In their nursery „Alpenbioblumen“ they produce young vegetable plants, potted herbs and flowers. We learnt on organic production, certification and direct marketing. The importance of market-oriented production and diversification of products as well as marketing channels were discussed. The farmers are struggling with paying up bank loans and getting labour. They have no government subsidies and struggle to comply with the conditions for certifications.
We visited an exciting farmer BioMichl on his farm and organic shop where we met his wife. BioMichl sells in the specialized organic shop, production from its own farm but also produce from other farms, such as Biogärtnerei Holzmann. He has over 500 varieties of crops and livestock products in the shop. We learnt at BioMichl about their motivation to open a shop, their clients, the criteria for the selection of new suppliers, and how they have presence in mainstream media and also social media that is ran by the daughters. The products in the shop are certified by Demeter, Naturland and others.
The Whole Sale Market in Munich is an international fruit and vegetable market in the heart of Europe that spans 310,000 square meters and hosts 400 import and wholesale trade businesses from around the world. In addition to fruit and vegetables, the market also sells flowers and gourmet foods. Local fruit and vegetable agents export products to the rest of Europe as well.
5. What did you remember most about the seminar and why?
What I learnt and I remember most about the seminar is the principles of agroecological farming practiced by Naturasi in Italy. The history and how they have evolved over time gave me hope that it is possible to start and grow into a big organic entrepreneur. It gave me hope especially for the women farmers in western Kenya doing indigenous vegetables and poultry.
6. Can you use at home what you have learned? If so, what would that be?
I can use the concepts of organic farming-agroecology to assist the farmers to embrace that to adopt to climate change for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition. The agroecological practices harness, maintain and enhance biological and ecological processes in agricultural production. I will promote responsive governance at farmer group levels and WoFaAK national levels.
Last but not least let´s read about the impressions of Josephine Seurey from North Rift Region:
1. Please tell us about yourself I am Josephine Seurey. I am a woman farmer, member of WoFaAK from the North Rift Region of Kenya, I am an Agricultural Economist by profession and in to tomato farming business. I am a Champion and a board member of WoFaAK. As a Champion I mobilise women farmers, train them on farming related aspects and group governance.
2. We have only invited WoFaAK Members to these trainings. We would like to hear: How did you hear about the rural women's association "WoFaAK"? Do you have an honorary position with WoFaAK? If yes, which one? What does that mean in practice? I came to know WoFaAK through GIZ project called ATVET for women while attending a training in 2017, it was then that WoFaAK being formed.
Do you have an honorary Position? Yes, I am a champion for north Rift Region and I am a board member of WoFaAK.
What does that mean in practice? As a champion it means that I am a registered member of WoFaAK, in charge of a region hence overseeing women agricultural activities in the region, mobilization of women farmers to be members of WoFaAK, linking women farmers of WoFaAK in the region with service providers and market and agricultural trainings.
As a board member it means I am a fully registered member of WoFaAK, paying membership fee, sitting in the board meeting deliberating on organizations activities, determining the mission and strategy of the organization, resource mobilization, planning for activities in the WoFaAK Chapters
3. You have participated in the GIZ food processing seminar in Feldafing. How was the exchange with the other seminar participants, from which countries did they come? My experience and exchange from other seminar participants is great, I got to learn what they are doing. Their successes and challenges in terms of Organic farming and Marketing strategies, I would also relate with my farming activities and those of fellow women farmers of WoFaAK back in Kenya. The participants came from India, Benin, Cameroon, Mali and Kenya
4. Can you tell us something about the seminar contents. What was it about? The seminar content included; understanding the concept of agricultural organisms and agro-ecosystems, organic leadership for sustainability, food system mapping, organic guarantee systems, self management, concept of differentiation and diversification, marketing strategies, targeting your market, positioning your business and products. It also involved field excursion to horticultural farm, organic farm and supermarket.
5. What did you remember most about the seminar and why? The marketing strategy and how to position my business and products, the field excursion to the Bio farm and shop as well as leadership, I remember this most because positioning my product and marketing strategy aligns so much with my products and was helpful in terms of skills to improve my farming activities and that of WoFaAK farmers in Kenya. Bio farm and shop taught me the importance of consistency, quality and understanding own customer needs. Leadership session gave me skills of leadership essential in farming and which is helpful as a leader in WoFaAK.
6. Can you use at home what you have learned? If so, what would that be? What I learnt at the seminar is very relevant and I will use back home. Marketing strategies skills I will use back at home both in training the women farmer groups as well as in my own tomato farming for effective marketing, leadership skills will help me deliver my role well as a champion and board member of WoFaAK. Organic guarantee Systems skills will be very helpful to my fellow women farmers in understanding the regulation that exists for organic products and how to go about the certifications.
We thank you for your responses and a lot of success for your plans in Kenya!