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Championing gender in agricultural services in Kenya

Authors: Edward Bikketi, Tatiana Gumucio, Francesco Cecchi, Berber Kramer, Lilian Waithaka, and Carol Waweru

Photo credit: ACRE Africa

Agricultural services are fundamental to driving agricultural development. In designing these services, it is critical to consider gender roles from the outset to identify effective pathways for change and to avoid exacerbating gender inequality.

A ‘champion farmer’ model is potentialy one way to reduce gender gaps in access to agricultural services. Champion farmers are influential, entrepreneurial farmers with substantial knowledge of good agricultural practices within their communities. They are recruited from the population targeted by agricultural services, and they support the delivery of these services to fellow farmers in their communities. This can help promote gender inclusivity and diversity in agricultural services. This model has been introduced in various contexts to deliver products and services.

As part of ongoing efforts to increase farmers’ access to quality seeds—and to diversify champion farmer revenue streams—champions are linked to the formal input sector to distribute and sell agricultural inputs. Using their social networks, champions can form a bridge between informal and formal systems, providing both women and men with better access to quality seeds.

In this project note, we analyze the functioning of this champion farmer model using a case study in Kenya. We seek to assess gender-based barriers that champion farmers may face in providing agricultural services. Specifically, the case study provides insights into opportunities that drive champion farmers to start their entrepreneurial activities to deliver agricultural services, the barriers that they face in carrying out these activities, and the extent to which farmers in their communities see them as social influencers.

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