Requirements For Implementing A Sustainable KnowEat Hub and Why VACID Africa is the Champion in Implementing
VACID Africa breaks the implementation into two categories: physical needs and information needs, as each aspect of the KnowEat Hub build on and complement each other.
1. The KnowEat Hub is a physical space where produce storage, learning and interaction between people with common-interest, takes place. The community as the owners of the Hub joins hands with their benefactors who may be the Central or County Government and contributes for the development of the Hub. VACID Africa uses this infrastructure to capture local/indigenous knowledge, and then share it using the digital infrastructure. As a physical knowledge centre the old and the young have their space with those knowledgeable in the activities of the sponsoring value chain(s) participating as knowledge providers while those keen in learning use the sages in their midst, or the internet using digital large screens to watch videos, and acquire new skills. ICT for Agriculture and/or Development offering broader services in digital inclusion and e-leaning. The Hub therefore offers services that are a superset of what the Kenya Government has promised to deliver in the Huduma Centres, which are based on the earlier model of the KnowEat Hub that were previously called Resource Aquaculture, Value Addition, Agribusiness and Knowledge Centres.
2. VACID Africa is a capacity building organization. It has training programmes that are supported by the Telecenctre.org Academy and Cisco Entrepreneur Institute. VACID Africa Institute develops context based content to deliver value chain based programmes in line with its foundation of working to empower value chain actors. The individuals trained in the programmes indicated here and certified through our institute and our other partners become the trainers of others in the programme. The trainees who become trainers are therefore carefully selected to ensure that only those with commitment and passion to working for the communities and are keen to become part of VACID Africa’s knowledge diffusion team are included in the facility staffing. Our programmes therefore identify ICT4D, ICT4Ag, ICT4B and agribusiness focused youth and professionals with a calling to support communities to serve as support staff with their salary coming from operational proceeds.
Members :VACID Africa is a community initiative. Actors in the sponsoring value chain at the various levels from investment, service delivery, physical resource ownership, production, public relations, marketing or any service provision that promotes the value chain become actors, including sponsors become members of the cooperative. Among those actors, critical actors by virtue of their passion and drive are identified to become champions who facilitate outreach to other farmers. Specialized training programmes are delivered to those who take leadership to ensure they understand the value chain driven agribusiness dynamics that drive VACID Africa’s work. The lead producer in a given location enlists the local producers to form a local produce group. Groups in a geographical location are then encouraged to create a value chain agribusiness or producer cooperative which then affiliates with the VACID Africa Agribusiness Investment Cooperative shown in KnowEat Hub figure below. It is the local agribusiness or value chain cooperative that then invests in the KnowEat Hub. The Hub becomes the knowledge diffusion or extension services provision as well as the centre for delivery of ICTs to the local community which the model uses to deliver a self-sustaining revenue center. The produce storage operates on the basis of warehouse receipting facility so that producers who use it can rely on their deposits to procure credit. It is this business that VACID Africa proposes to carry out with the support of financial Institutions to fund as an investment to the community and growth of the institutions.
ICT Equipment/Computers/Mobile Integration
3. VACID Africa integrates technology to what value chain actors choose to integrate, ensuring that the cost of adoption is economically sustainable by the farmers. As an organization, VACID Africa tries to demonstrate the power of adopting ICT as the vehicle to drive development. It is for this reason that the organization supports access to all knowledge content at the centre. All transactions that take place adopt mobile money using mobile payment platforms such as LiPisha or MyPesaNet to maximize transparency and eliminate financial losses from cash handling.
Access to Electricity and Internet
4. The organization needs to embrace green energy to deliver cold storage, lighting and internet service delivery to stakeholders of the KnowEat Centres. We have evolved partnerships with international organizations that are leaders in green energy installation systems. The investors in the energy provision become investors in the programme activity as others in any other value chain activity, or project. VACID Africa participates in linking communities seeking green energy solutions to partners who promote greening of industry and community engagements
Value Addition Services
5. AS already indicated VACID Africa is the embodiment of Value Addition and Cottage Industry in Kenya. It is out of the work that the founder of VACID Africa did in the UNIDO programme that the agribusiness focus in Kenya gained root. Value Addition Services in VACID Africa are the reason for the organization’s existence. It therefore promotes value addition from the very rudimental level of produce sorting to the very advanced level of integration of digital electronics and processing of foods. We have supported communities to achieve self-finance through adoption of the necessary physical/ information infrastructure investments through acquisition of shares in a local branch of VACID Africa Agribusiness Investment Cooperative, with repayment made through a portion of the marginal increase in price the farmer realizes as a result of the value addition.
Improved Access to Inputs/Transport
6. VACID Africa’s benefit to the smallholder farmer is its ability to promote economies of scale in the supply and demand side. We help farmers to aggregate demand in the procurement of inputs to their famers and other investments. We also support them aggregate their produce to benefit from economies of scale in the transport of their produce to the market as well as in the storage of the same when production is high but demand low. In all these circumstances the need to access inputs and transport services is critical. We promote partnership with input suppliers (seed, knowledge, agro vet supplies) to support communities establish cooperative-driven supply stores. The stores are run by local youth whom the organization trains. The KnowEat Hub also hosts a transparent e-marketplace for sourcing market transport that enables farmers to act on their improved knowledge of market prices in the region.
Best Practices/Indigenous Knowledge Content
1. Old or new knowledge becomes valuable only when shared. Old practices when documented provide guidance to new practices which then reflect as new best practices particularly if they are supported with new technology and dissemination infrastructure. The capture of best practices in the past and what has guided productivity in the current seasons including treatment of common agricultural maladies are necessary when shared among producers provide new avenues for innovation as much as it immortalizes indigenous knowledge. Our KnowEat Hub is designed to capture local knowledge and current experiences from the local champions which others can adopt in a model akin to the farmer field school. We record role model community members digitally as they share their knowledge and experience out of which we develop contextualized video content to enhance direct linkage as well as provide promote the application of new knowledge in the KnowEat Hub agricultural resource production activities.
2. The foundation for KnowEat Hub’s transformation of farmer communities is grounded in our transparent, digital weighing and recording solution that counteracts the pervasive cheating of smallholder producers by exploitative middlemen or organizational clerks from their member organizations. We use the weight based standard to capture what a farmer delivers to the KnowEat Storage facility then promote access to market information (at the center, online, or by mobile SMS). We engage with technical expert partners whenever possible to help our members benefit from new innovations. We use existing solutions such as mFarm and FarmForce, while doing retaining the option of custom development only when necessary to meet needs not otherwise provided for by existing technologies that would take a shorter time to adopt. We integrate the capture of critical producer and consumer geospatial information through basic mobile devices. This is made part of our platform to help our members benefit from a fully functional GIS solution rather than create a stand-alone GIS system on our own. We use our Agriculture and Food Market Information Portal (www.af-mip.net) to facilitate KnowEat Hub access to the East Africa Commodities Exchange as well as other market interfaces.
Extension and Advisory Services
3. Since the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s, when farmer support through government extension went down, private intermediaries have made efforts to promote agricultural productivity with lacklustre success levels. VACID Africa uses localized extension services where farmer organizations extend payment on behalf of our programmes when agreed benchmarks are met by a service provider. Failure to meet benchmarks that are agreed upon before an activity begins means that the service provide fails to receive full earning from what they had indicated at the start. We facilitate extension and advisory services through partnerships with communities, government extension services, and private service providers that leverage the KnowEat Hub physical space, technology resources and farmer networks/memberships. These tiered partnerships provide stepping stones as members’ needs grow over the course of the project.