Kenya Placeholder

Horticulture for food security and livelihood improvement

About the Implementing organization

Name: Mara River Water Users Association

Country: Kenya

Year of establishment: 2003

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status / Community enterprise or business  / Public-private partnership


The Horticulture for food security and livelihood initiative is a partnership between the Association and Songotoi Limited a fresh produce exporter working in the Mara basin. It introduced the hass variety of the avocado which was very marketable in Europe. The initiative works around a business case involving avocadoes and at the same time conserving the environment through improved tree cover on farm and limiting poor land use practices that encourage erosion and lower productivity. The innovation in the case is that there is a clear market linkage in having avocado orchards and improved tree cover and improvements of the livelihoods of the community. It was viewed that instead of just purely promoting agroforestry and woodlot establishment, avocadoes were a clearly a good business case where the community members living adjacent to the forests gain by planting trees (Avocado) for improved income by supplying Songoroi Limited fruits through concrete contractual agreement.

The farmers were given adequate training in orchard establishment and crop management and have under gone various necessary certifications such as Global GAP and Euro Gap certification for them to be able to access and have their produce accepted in the global markets. Currently the scheme has 540 farmers taking part.

Nature Element

Forests / Rivers / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Awareness and education / Advocacy for land & water rights

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)


Environmental Impacts

One of the major issues affecting the Mara basin has been the encroachment of the forest for fuel wood by the local community and also for charcoal burning. This initiative has helped decrease this since farmers are assisted to set up avocado orchards in their farms and after three years they are able to sell the grafted hass variety to Songoroi Limited a local vegetable exporter. So far 540 farmers along the forest have taken part in the project and have seen their income increase. The initiative has had significant impact on the environment since there is increased tree cover and less erosion from poor farming practices. This has also ensured that there is less pressure on the Mau forest for wood for charcoal since avocadoes provide a much higher return than charcoal burning. On average from the sale of avocadoes a farmers earns $1500/acre/year as compared to $200 for maize in the same year. The initiative promotes the sustainable use of available land resources optimally.

Sustainable Development Impacts

The initiatives impacts on the following Sustainable development elements:
Goal 1:End poverty in all its forms everywhere through income generation.
Goal 2:End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3:Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 8:Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all through gainful farming
Goal 9:Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation through linking markets to conservation.
Goal 12:Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns through optimal land use
Goal 13:Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 15:Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss through conserving Mau.


The association has been markedly successful in sharing its experiences and this practice through exchange visits, training and workshops, and ‘study tours’. More specifically, the association has engaged in peer-to-peer exchanges with the Semu Liki River Basin project in Uganda, the Lake Naivasha Water Resources Users Association in Kenya, the Lake Bogoria Water Users Association in Kenya, and the Mara River Basin project in Tanzania, with whom the association has formed the Mara River Trans-Boundary Water Resource Users Forum.

by partnering with the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), the Association has been able to share this model within the region and currently there is a similar initiative being piloted in Rwanda through the same model of conservation for livelihoods.


This model can be easily replicated within and out of the country. With the advent of devolution within the Kenyan constitutional dispensation came the formation of counties in the devolved government structure. So far the two counties sharing the bulk of the Mara River basin in Kenya have embraced the model within their integrated county development plans within the context of environment, agriculture and also good trade practices to promote the local economy. Rwanda had also shown interest in having the model in their country using a similar model. The initiative can further be replicated by creating awareness on the advantages of the avocado fruit both in terms of conservation, nutrition and income generation.

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