New publication - Holistic sustainability assessment methods for smallholder farms in Kenya

A study by authors from the University of Bonn in Germany, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Switzerland, and the Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT) in Kenya, applied novel approaches to assess the sustainability of organic (certified and non- certified) and non-organic smallholder farms in Kenya (Kamau et al. 2021). The unique assessment approach was based on four sustainability dimensions based on the guidelines for Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA Guidelines) by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Good Governance, Environmental Integrity, Economic Resilience, and Social Well-Being. Findings suggest that certified organic farms were more economically resilient and provided better support and training for farmworkers. These farms also maintained higher soil and water quality and more biodiversity, mainly due to restrictions in agrochemical use. However, organic farms will require support if they are to implement more comprehensive sustainable agronomic practices. The findings also indicate a lack of reliable farm accounting and management information and limited specialized knowledge and skills, which affect the adoption of sustainable practices across all farm types. Social security for farmers and farm workers is also a limitation for sustainability. Closing these gaps in knowledge, skills and social security has the potential to improve farm sustainability. The study methods and results can support decision-making on policies and interventions that target smallholder farms in Kenya and beyond, for improved agricultural sustainability. This study was funded by the University of Bonn and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)-Frick co-funded by the Dutch Humanist Institute for Cooperation (Hivos), the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC) and the Mercator Foundation Switzerland through the ProEcoAfrica and OFSA projects. It was further supported by funds from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) through Biovision Foundation and Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the project LANd Use SYNergies and CONflicts within the framework of the 2030 Agenda (LANUSYNCON).

Kamau, Juliet Wanjiku, Christian Shader, Lisa Biber‐Freudenberger, Till Stellmacher, David Amudavi, Jan Landert, Johan Blockeel, Cory Whitney, and Christian Borgemeister. 2021. “A Holistic Sustainability Assessment of Organic (Certified and Non-Certified) and Non-Organic Smallholder Farms in Kenya.” Environment, Development and Sustainability 38. doi: 10.1007/s10668-021- 01736-y.

Dr. Cory Whitney
Dr. Cory Whitney

My research interests include Decision analysis, participatory and transdisciplinary approaches, stochastic models, agroecology, agro- biodiversity, biodiversity, conservation