Officials from Embu County Agriculture department, JICA and Ministry of Agriculture held a workshop today to deliberate on how the SHEP PLUS project will benefit Embu farmers. Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion Project for Local and Up-Scaling (SHEP PLUS) is a project targeting 18 counties in Kenya to mainstream SHEP Approach in their agriculture extension service.

The SHEP Approach targets the groups of smallholder farmers who engage in cash crop production. SHEP aims to increase their income by improving their capacity in farm and group management. There are needs in our target population to establish agricultural activity which increases their incomes in their villages. The SHEP Approach promotes a “grow to sell” concept with a focused purpose of producing what the market needs, as opposed to the conventional “grow and sell” concept, where farmers produce crops without thinking about the market demand in advance.

It is an innovative development approach established by the joint efforts of the Government of Kenya (GoK) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The approach has been effective in raising incomes of smallholder farmers by developing both their technical and managerial capacity to practice market-oriented horticultural farming. As the result, the farmers’ income from horticulture will grow significantly and their livelihoods will continue to improve for years after the intervention. It’s benefit to farmers will be making them self-reliant and being able to find creativity in expanding their horticultural farming businesses.

SHEP Approach was born through “Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment Project”, a technical cooperation project between Kenya and Japan. With this approach, the project succeeded in doubling the farmers’ income from horticulture production. The factor of the success of SHEP is to change farmers’ mindset from “Grow and Sell” to “Grow to Sell”, that is, “Farming as a Business”.

The “Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion (SHEP)” is an innovative development approach established by the joint efforts of the Government of Kenya (GoK) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The approach has been effective in raising incomes of smallholder farmers by developing both their technical and managerial capacity to practice market-oriented horticultural farming. As the result, the farmers’ income from horticulture has grown significantly and their livelihoods continue to improve for years after the intervention. Its beneficiary farmers are now self-reliant and are finding creative in expanding their horticultural farming businesses. The GoK and The Government of Japan (GoJ), which proclaimed the efficacy of the SHEP Approach in TICAD V held in Yokohama, are now disseminating the SHEP Approach in other African countries to further expand the impact.

As the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recognize, improvement of access to the market contributes to reducing poverty in African countries. The Agricultural Strategy Paper in African countries refers to the importance of the shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture.
For example, in the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy 2010-2020, GoK presents a vision of “Innovative, Commercially-oriented and Competitive Modern Agriculture” and has a target of “increasing competitiveness and productivity of agricultural products, improving productivity and promoting commercialization” as means to achieve the vision.
The SHEP Approach has been developed and implemented in Kenya since 2006 with a clear purpose of improving the livelihoods of small-scale farmers through increasing their incomes. It is a well-rounded development approach which specifically targets those smallholder farmers who try to expand cultivating horticultural crops for income generation