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Agriterra, Kenya

  • Definition
    Devising project idea, defining the aim and main components
  • Design
    Specifying details such as time-frame, budget, target indicators, project partners and relevant steps to reach the project objectives
  • Open to Financing
    Searching and securing funding and investment, setting up relevant financing partnerships, and discussing payment modalities
  • Implementation
    Execution of feasibility studies, context analysis, plot design, planting and setting up facilities and starting with potential capacity-building
  • Maintenance
    Operational phase (monitoring and evaluation, impact assessments and adjustments, execution of educational programmes and long-term capacity building)
  • Scaling Up
    Scaling up phase is when the project it has already shown success by obtaining impact as well as economic results and it's ready to become replicable.

This Model Farm intervention is part of a larger SDGP project called: Developing a Low-Carbon Coffee Value-Chain in Kericho, Kenya. The project is enabled by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and run by a consortium consisting of Moyee Coffee, The Fairchain Foundation, Agriterra, the Kipkelion District Cooperative Union and the Kenya Agriculture Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO). reNature’s role in this project centers around the development and implementation of a regenerative coffee farming system designed for maximum carbon uptake in biomass and soil.

Our intervention will also add to the project’s underlying objectives of increasing food security, farmer income and resilience to the impacts of climate change. The Model Farm will be adapted to the ongoing project activities and will allow for direct integration of existing strategies related to the setup of a bio-solutions production facility.

The project also incorporates the development of a coffee roasting station in Nairobi. Combined these interventions will drive climate benefits in coffee production whilst supporting farmer livelihoods sustainably.

Regenerative farming to help local farmers cope with climate change 

Kenya’s coffee farmers are increasingly struggling with the impacts of climate change as well as chronically low prices. Rising temperatures, higher variability in weather patterns, as well as the increased occurrence of extreme weather events causing droughts and floods are threatening coffee yields. Diseases such as the Coffee Berry Disease, the Coffee Wild Disease or the Coffee Leaf Rust, are harming coffee plants and berries and thus production. These detrimental developments have an adverse effect on smallholder farmer livelihoods and are causing many of them to quit coffee cultivation altogether.

The severity of these effects is directly influenced by the way coffee is currently grown in Kenya. Traditionally cultivated with shade trees, coffee farming has witnessed a shift towards monoculture plantations in the past decades. Growing in full sun and without agrodiversity, coffee plants are significantly more vulnerable to pests and changes in the climate, whilst being reliant on substantial inputs of fossil-fuel based fertilisers and pesticides. This puts farmer livelihoods at risk who rely on the outputs of one income stream only.

Introducing regenerative agroforestry can turn coffee farming from a risk-prone, environmentally damaging practice into one that is resilient to pests and climate change, benefits the climate as well as the farmer while restoring soil fertility and biodiversity. That means practicing regenerative agriculture does not just improve yields in the short run but replenishes soil for generations to come. 

Increased crop and plant diversity provide for a variety of different uses beyond the production of coffee, increase pest resilience whilst optimizing the use of space. Soil is protected through cover crops and/or organic material and biomass is circled back into the system. Furthermore, the farmer benefits through a diversification of income streams increasing economic resilience, while input costs are reduced over the long-term.

Multi-stakeholder engagement: a public-private partnership 

Moyee Coffee, The Fairchain Foundation, Agriterra, Kipkelion District Cooperative Union and Kenya Agriculture Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO) have formed a consortium within the Sustainable Development Goals Partnership (SDGP) Facility. Together they aim to link 7,200 coffee farmers in Kericho, Kenya, to a low-carbon specialty coffee value chain.

During coffee production, 40% of the GHG emissions come from the production and use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Another 40% comes from the rotting of the cherry once the coffee bean is removed. The other 20% includes all other production activities, incl. transport to western markets (!). Therefore, this project aims to develop bio-solutions as alternative for synthetic inputs.

Furthermore, the coffee cherry will be used to develop a high-value bio-compost specifically optimized for coffee trees, hence on the other end reducing the pollution that is rampant in the PCs. This project supports smallholder farmers to transition from traditional coffee farming model, consisting mainly of mono-culture coffee and the application of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides to a regenerative farm model.

Clear objectives for impact

This overall SDGP project consists of three main pillars:

  1.  Developing a bio-solutions production facility producing bio-compost, bio-fertilizer and bio- pesticides produced from local waste materials, to be sold as an affordable alternative to synthetic fertilizer and pesticides (ongoing).
  2. Implementing a Model Farm and Regenerative Coffee Strategy by ReNature
  3. Developing a coffee roasting facility at Origin in Nairobi (ongoing).

This should lead to improved farmer income, improved food security and improved resilience against climate-change related shocks for 7,200 smallholder farmers in Kericho, Kenya.

The objective of this project is to provide viable, regenerative livelihood opportunities for farmers to bind carbon in the soil and to eliminate the need for farm expansion into the forest. At the same time the interactions between the existing and degraded farms and the ecosystem are to be improved drastically.

reNature’s scope encompasses the creation and implementation of a Model Farm including an in-depth analysis of the local biophysical and socio-economic context, the creation of a tailor-made regenerative farm design as well as a strategy plan for management and implementation. The latter includes an implementation guide and a training curriculum for successfully onboarding farmers to the practices.

Putting the farmer first  

The Model Farm will provide a regional showcase of regenerative farming livelihoods that exist in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem. The visible farmer benefits in terms of food, biomass, and fodder production as well as other ecosystem services intend to inspire other farmers in the area to adopt the model. At the example of the farm, they can not only learn how the practices work but also why they are beneficial.

This, together with the above-mentioned implementation and management plan, projections, and additional guiding documents will prepare the ground for scaling the model across the 7200 target farmers of the SDGP project.

While the improvement of existing coffee farms is focusing on benefits for the farmers’ livelihood, the Model Farm will also provide them with opportunities to diversify their farming systems, and to grow additional food, fuelwood or biomass next to the major cash crops. The Model Farm will place a major focus on incorporating the holistic context of the farmers and their community taking into account local traditions, values and cultures.

Increased diversification and climate resilience will provide additional income streams for farmers and increase their economic resilience to shocks. A focus lies on reducing input costs resulting in higher profitability as well as a more efficient use of land and space to increase productivity.

Restoring the ecosystem 

The environmental impact of this project is intrinsically linked with the productivity of farmland and, thus, the prosperity of its farmers. Soil fertility growth increases in regenerative systems organically through the application of cover crops, crop rotation, compost, mulches, and animal manures restoring the plant/soil microbiome. This promotes the release, transfer, and cycle of essential soil nutrients and improve soil fertility and its capacity to store carbon as well as water capacity to store carbon as well as water. Erosion and desertification will be counteracted, whilst implying a farming system that is more resilient to climate change. This will improve the climate impact of the project. Additionally, diversification and enhanced soil life will benefit biodiversity in the area, as does the diminishment of the use of chemicals.

In this project, we work together with the Sustainable Development Goals Partnership (SDGP), a programme from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency uses SDGP to contribute to achieving food security and private sector development on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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