The agricultural sector heavily depends on a female workforce. Estimates show that in some developing countries, women make up over half of the agricultural workforce. In Kenya, for instance, women make up 42% and 65% of the agricultural labour force despite being accorded little attention.
Closing this gender gap is a female-led agribusiness company, Dashcrop Limited based in Migori County, Rongo region. The startup is providing over 6000 farmers, mostly women, with productive resources and opportunities to add value to the agriculture supply chain.
During an interview with the founder Caroline Alango, she says practising Climate Resilient Agriculture (CRA) in unpredictable rainfall patterns, and involving women in the entire value chain could result in tremendous productivity gains.
“We envision a sustainable agricultural value chain that will enable people, the economy and natural systems to rebound quickly in the face of adversity. Involving women too in the entire value chain could accelerate the ability of a business to react, respond and adapt to the unpredictable realities of a changing climate. 61% of our farmers are women by value chain design and we look forward to enhancing their resilience” she explains.
Founded in 2015, Dashcrop Ltd has been distributing quality seeds, facilitating agronomic support services and input financing to contracted smallholder farmers across seven counties; Migori, Busia, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega, Kisumu, Siaya, and Homabay counties.
“We believe that to enhance adaptation for farmers, we have to accelerate resilience. Here in Kenya, especially with the unpredictable rainfall patterns, we urge farmers to grow climate-resistant crops. We provide them with quality seeds of cassava, sorghum, millet, amaranth and soya beans,” she says.
As a commercial aggregator, Dashcrop is also improving the entire agriculture value chain by producing quality, affordable and nutritious products from the drought-tolerant crops grown by the same farmers.
“This is a win-win situation for both of us. We provide farmers with quality seeds and in return, we pay them to deliver quality produce to our designated collection centres and at an affordable price. We then add value to the produce by producing healthy and nutritious porridge flour, gluten-free cassava flour, composite ugali flour and composite porridge flour,” says Caroline.
Despite the agricultural sector facing weather-related impacts in the past, there are many benefits associated with taking the value chain approach to climate resilience. The approach presents important opportunities for lifecycle thinking and creative collaborations.
Caroline explains they are happy to have partnered with Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), to achieve successful value chain interventions, with the main objective of building farmers’ assets and institutional linkages.
“Our partnership with KCIC has been beneficial. Since 2019, we have received business trainings, linkages and engaged in mentorship programmes. Through their incubation, we have also streamlined our business operations and access to market information. We hope that with time, our agricultural production will meet the need of the growing population and an expanding middle class,” Caroline adds.
Dashcrop Limited also looks forward to accelerating agricultural adaptation technologies which include changes in crop pattern and calendar planting, crop diversification and improvement of irrigation efficiency.