The Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment Project

Place: kenya, Africa
Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products
Total Budget: € 0,00 | Period: From April 2009 To March 2018


The SHEP Approach –the innovative approach for farmer empowerment- has been bringing about a multitude of changes and transformations to smallholder farmers in Kenya. The SHEP Approach, by causing such changes based on market-oriented farming, is giving both immediate and medium-to-long-term impacts on the lives of the smallholder farmers and their communities With this approach, the project achieved doubling income of 2500 smallholder famers only within 2years. JICA in now promoting this “SHEP” approach all over Africa.


Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishers, Republic of Kenya - Kenya

Lead applicant

The Ministry of Agriculture is aware of the increased public consciousness and demand for quality service. As Ministry responsible for food security, efficient service delivery is the yardstick upon which our performance shall be measured. This Service Charter provides the basic guidelines on how we shall interact with our customers with regard to our core values, functions, our services, customers rights and our commitment to efficient service delivery to Kenyans. The Charter serves to inform our clients, stakeholders and the public about the standard and the type of service they can reasonably expect when dealing with our staff.


Initiative partner

The Horticultural Crops Development Authority (‘HCDA’) is a Parastatal body established under the Agriculture Act, Chapter 318 of the Laws of Kenya, through Legal Notice No. 229 of 1967. The statutory objective of the Authority is to promote and develop the production and marketing of horticultural produce At the time of establishing the Authority, the horticultural sub-sector was seen as a viable solution for the country’s need for cash crop diversification, enhanced food nutrition, income generation, employment creation and foreign exchange earning in addition to providing raw material for agro-processing industries.

Japan International Cooperation Agency - Japan

Initiative partner

A variety of organizations and groups, including governments as well as international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private companies, carry out financial assistance to developing countries for socioeconomic development. ODA, as defined by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), must meet the following three requirements: ・ It should be undertaken by governments or government agencies ・ The main objective is the promotion of economic development and welfare in developing countries ・ It has concessional terms, having a grant element of at least 25% ODA is broadly divided into bilateral aid, in which assistance is given directly to developing countries, and multilateral aid, which is provided through international organizations. JICA provides bilateral aid in the form of Technical Cooperation, Japanese ODA Loans and Grant Aid.

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.

The originality of SHEP approach is in the way it transforms farmers’ awareness and behavior (1) promoting “Farming as a Business” and (2) raising motivation and skills. As shown in the diagram attached, the uniqueness of SHEP lies in the chemistry created by the combination of the two approaches.

(1) There is a remarkable information gap between the farmers, who have less information about the trends and the demands of the local market, and actors in the marketplace, who know less which products are available in their locality. The SHEP Approach is intended to ease this “Asymmetry of information” by enhancing their exchange of information.

(2) SHEP approach is designed to improve motivation of farmers, Extension Staff and government officials. The SHEP provides each stakeholder “Competences”, “Autonomy” and “Relatedness” which are the basic psychological desires of farmers. This idea is based on the self-determination theory of Edward L. Deci, who advocates these three factors as necessary components for spontaneous motivation. 

The Originality of SHEP Describing what is the originality of SHEP.

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.

The SHEP Approach has achieved tangible outputs in a short-term period. During the first phase of implementation, “SHEP Phase 1” (2006-2009), the farmers increased their incomes around twofold as nominal. The number of beneficiary farmers has increased from around 2,500 during SHEP PHASE 1 to 13,000 under the current nation-wide project, “SHEP Unit Project (2010-2015). With the extra income they made, the farmers had their children enjoy a higher education, repaired their houses, and began off-farm income generation activities. SHEP Gender Awareness Training defines household as “a joint management unit” in which husband and wife share roles and responsibilities. There have been strengthened improved gender relations between husbands and wives, solidarity and cohesion of the farmer groups to which SHEP intervened, and encouraged young generations who are more interested in agriculture. 

../file-system/small/docx ../file-system/small/docx Initiatives of SHEP and SHEP UP Describing what is SHEP and SHEP UP.

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.

 The invention of the approach is credited to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MOALF), the Horticulture Crops Development Authority (HCDA) in Kenya and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA has given continuous technical support to MOALF and HCDA for developing the capacity of the government staff and farmers to facilitate market-oriented faming. Owing to the joint efforts of these three key institutions collaborating closely, the SHEP Approach has succeeded in making a real impact on the ground, changing farmers’ livelihoods. From 2006 to 2009, collaboration around 2,000 small holder farmers have participated in the activities of SHEP Approach.

 Some of the challenges SHEP is facing in terms of its dissemination and sustainability are (1) “modification and improvement of the mechanism developed in Kenya in accordance with the different contexts of other countries and communities (2) “human resource development needed for the process of modification and improvement”.  These two issues require a longer span of time.

(1) To disseminate the SHEP Approach throughout Kenya and other African countries, it is necessary to modify this approach in line with location-specific or country-specific contexts. This customization needs a certain amount of time for each country.

(2) To modify the SHEP Approach as above, the Government Officials(especially extension offcers), a major actor to  disseminate the SHEP Approach to local farmers in their community, should thoroughly understand the approach and put it into practice as a routine. Therefore, human resource development of the Extension Officers is critically important, but in parallel, it needs a certain amount of time.

As an example of a positive environmental impact, some of the farmers who joined the activities of SHEP introduced some agricultural facilities in their production using their increased income. Some procured drainage pipes for their farms or set solar panels as a private electric generator. Furthermore, there are some people who have succeeded in reducing the use of firewood, allowing for more efficient use of resources.

 The GoK has officially established SHEP Unit under the Crop Management Directorate of MoALF headquarters after the recognition of the achievement of SHEP Phase 1. SHEP Unit has a clear mandate to support small-scale farmers nationwide.
Current SHEP UP (Phase 2) has succeeded in making local governments, which were more authorized recently in Kenya after its decentralization, continue implementing the activities of SHEP Approach. They secure the budget necessary for the activities and conduct them according to the instruction made by the SHEP Unit.
SHEP continues to follow up on its participants for an additional year in to help them practice their newly-acquired skills and knowledge. After the two and a half year intervention by SHEP, the farmer groups can “take-off” and continue their farming business on their own. When any further advice is needed after their take-off, the farmer groups can rely on their Extension Officers for their expertise in agriculture.

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Overview of SHEP Describing what SHEP sustainability is.

The SHEP Approach has been applied in Kenya gradually as stated above. Total number of beneficiaries supported by SHEP UP is reaching about 13,000. Recognizing the success in Kenya, the GoJ proclaimed the efficacy of the SHEP Approach in the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) held in Yokohama, Japan in June 2013. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, announced in the Yokohama Action Plan the SHEP Approach in at least ten African countries by 2018. The GoJ considers the SHEP Approach as one of the most powerful instruments to promote Africa’s agricultural sector develop.ment.  JICA is responsible for pushing forward the government’s pledge.

[reference materials]

-Shinzo Abe's speech


-Japan’s Assistance Package for Africa at TICADV