Learning to export: building smallholder farmers' capabilities through farmer - exporter partnerships in Kenya's cut flower Industry
February 17 2010
Innogen Meeting Room, Ground Floor Chambers, Room 00-13
The Open University, Milton Keynes
Organised by: ESRC Innogen Centre, The Open University
The Kenya's cut flower industry has experienced overall upward growth in volume, value and acreage over the last decade. This growth has been driven largely by large scale growers while the contribution of the smallholder farmers has been minimal and declining. In order to improve the participation of smallholder farmers, the government of Kenya is promoting 'farmer - exporter' partnerships to enable smallholder farmers access export markets, farm inputs and extension services. The ultimate goal is to enable smallholer farmers to access export markets directly.
The paper argues that because of differential power relations/asymmetry; institutional factors (terms of contracts etc) and competition pressures (the need to protect rents), smallholder farmers may be "locked-in" in performing certain routine functions but "locked-out" of activities that are likely to erode rents of the exporters. This may further marginalize smallholders and undermine their ability to innovate and access export markets directly.