By Murimi Gitari
Africa-focused agribusiness incubator 2SCALE marked its 10th anniversary in Nairobi this week, with key speakers calling for increased support and innovations to make small-scale farming profitable on the continent.
International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) chief executive officer Albin Hubscher said there was need to increase farm productivity, reduce food chain waste and accelerate efforts to move away from subsistence farming.
“This is where 2SCALE plays a significant role by helping the farmers become productive, create farming communities that can produce food, commodities, or feed at scale, reliably and of sustained quality as well as linking farming communities to markets or industries that covert produce to products that are of commercial and nutritional interests to the market,” the IFDC CEO said at the event organised to reflect on the achievements and sustainability of the incubation programme.
2SCALE is funded by the Dutch government and manages a portfolio of public-private partnerships (PPPs) for inclusive businesses in the agri-food sectors and industries.
The programme offers a range of support services to MSMEs and farmer groups and partners, enabling them to produce, process and supply quality food products.
These products are intended for local and regional markets, including consumers at the base of the pyramid.
2SCALE’s first phase ran from 2012 to 2017 in seven countries in East and West Africa.
The second phase of the programme covers 10 countries and expanded the program’s work into North Africa.
Since the start of phase 2 in 2019 that will run up to 2023, 2SCALE has enabled access to nutritious food for over 956,517 consumers, primarily those at the base of the pyramid, and facilitated improved agricultural productivity and market access for 454,885 smallholder farmers through 73 PPPs.
The programme’s direct beneficiaries, dubbed business champions, include small scale processors, farmers and retailers.
The programme is active in 10 countries in Africa, namely Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, Cote D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan and Egypt.
Dr Ruth Kinoti, the Kenyan founder and CEO of Shalem Investments, one of 2CALE’s partners highlighted how her company moved from being an aggregator to a processing factory after being supported by 2SCALE.
Through the intervention of 2SCALE, Shalem has already helped mobilise 320 farmer groups and has created more than USD 3.5 million in wealth for small-scale farmers.
2SCALE supported the company, which is in the sorghum value chain, to diversify its customer base and product range,
Shalem now serves a range of customers from food processors to feed manufacturers to development programs and others.
“2SCALE helped us develop a business model by taking the ideas we had and implementing them. There is no instance that 2SCALE gave us ideas or tell us what do but rather they would listen to what we had and this built a foundation for other partners to come on board,” Dr Kinoti said during the conference.
“Before we began this partnership, there was hardly any commercial market for sorghum. But now we receive hundreds of enquiries from farmers wanting to join our producer groups. In two years, I am confident that sorghum will become one of the biggest cash crops in this region.”