Creating a Kenyan Agro-Ecology hub to support Science-Movement-Practice Synergies

The McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) (http://www.ccrp.org/) funds collaborative research projects that aim to explore solutions for sustainable, local food systems. 

IDEMS’s staff have been involved in the research methods support for CCRP’s East and West African projects for several years, and this year also received a planning grant to establish an agroecology hub, based in Western Kenya.

Agroecology, put simply, is an ecological approach to agriculture, which centres on food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these resources. Across the world, scientists, researchers, NGOs, CBOs, activists, farmers, consumers, universities and others are working in the agroecology space. 

However, there’s often a disconnect between what is happening in the science and research into agroecology, the movement of those promoting agroecology and the practice of what agroecological practices farmers are actually using. 

Therefore, the hub, formed with partners including Manor House Agricultural Centre (MHAC), AMI, Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association – Kenya, has an overarching aim of bridging the gap between science, practice and movement in agroecology.

It’s initial activities will be to carry out research into the effectiveness of agroecological practices that are commonly practiced among smallholder farmers in Kenya, and through a scoping study, understand the major challenges faced by smallholder farmers in Western Kenya, and what systems, from NGOs and government, are in place to support these.

The project began with a highly successful inception meeting in January 2019, bringing together a diverse set of partners to conceptualise what the hub is and to plan out the research activities to take place over the following 8 months.

We are committed to this project, in particular in supporting the local partners to develop the necessary structures that could enable them to support the wider farming community across East Africa through the use of effective agroecological approaches. We also believe in the importance of bridging the gap between science, practice and movement, and feel this aligns with IDEMS’ desire to work within and across broad areas. We believe in the importance of research for impact development and want to support research for development in this area.