Initiative Result:

Kenyan farmers aggregate land for nature-positive activity

Three Kenyan farmer communities aggregated small parcels to restore degraded land, improve production and create value chains with nature-positive solutions.

Three groups of Kenyan farmers agreed to dedicate their small land parcels to create aggregated farms to implement and scale nature-positive  solutions. Many Kenyan smallholders face declining production due to land fragmentation, land degradation, and lack of investment. Three community-led groups supported by NATURE+ agreed to aggregate small parcels of land to create larger, nature-positive farms. These farms will be used to restore land, increase production, and attract investment to scale-up nature-positive interventions.

Farmers in Kenya face a myriad of challenges that limit their farm’s production potential. Two of these are land degradation (from deforestation,  subsequent erosion and overuse of chemical inputs) and land fragmentation (the division of landholdings into very small plots through inheritance).  Farmers are often limited by lack of access to value chains and technical knowledge, access to seeds, lack of finance, low incomes and debt burdens, labor shortages, and negative impacts of climate change.

No single intervention can solve all these problems. But an innovation led by Nature+ aims to set the enabling conditions for a radical transformation of degraded and divided landscapes in Kenya through farm aggregation. At three nearby locations in Kenya in 2023, NATURE+ brought together farmers’ groups to agree to aggregate small plots of land and pursue landscape restoration through the collective application of nature-positive solutions, particularly permaculture. Additionally, the Initiative is developing plans for several related value chains that will equitably share the benefits of aggregation.

The aggregated design will eventually allow the farms to respond to the challenges listed above, including access to planting material, and address  issues related to food security, food production independence, and nutritional challenges in communities. The farms are designed to encompass  several sustainable production activities, including high-value crop production, fruit trees, and circulareconomy activities such as composting and use of soil microbiome, apiculture, pisciculture and the production of value-added food productions. The farm aggregation models will be replicable across Kenya and beyond, and potentially revolutionize small-scale farming practices.

NATURE+’s two aggregated farms span 76 hectares and 55 hectares. In Vihiga, a model farm of 2 hectares, will foster adoption of the same nature positive practices at landscape level. The different models are located in three relatively different social and farming contexts. But they have several things in common: strong community support for aggregation and a history of successful collaboration with CGIAR, particularly through the  establishment of community seed banks to supply the farms with agrobiodiverse planting material (trees and crops). All three farms have river access, providing a key, reliable, year-round source of water needed for production. Some 200 farmers across the three sites are involved in the first phases of
the farm aggregation.

In 2023, NATURE+ collaborated with communities to establish the enabling conditions for the aggregated farms. Stakeholder consultations first  focused on the need for collaboration and consensus – initially, farmers were reluctant to adopt the scheme, but eventually decided by a vast majority to relinquish control of their land for the implementation of the aggregated farms, and decided what activities would be prioritized on the shared land.
Communities formed organizations to govern the arrangements, and legal teams are currently working on the contractual issues focused on profit-sharing, responsibilities, and conflict resolution.

NATURE+ researchers also completed land demarcation of plots, mapped the intervention areas and carried out community activities to gauge the key community collaboration component necessary to make the farms successful. Critically, the aggregation plans are aligned with county-level, five-year agricultural development plans. Project beneficiaries are women, men, and youth (although participating farmers’ median age trends are well above the median age of Kenyan participants). Much of the farmland dedicated to aggregation (except for the one-hectare plot) was largely abandoned due to degradation, or only used for grazing.

This initiative brings ideas on better utilization of pieces of land, which have barely been utilized. We are optimistic that the permaculture aggregated farms will revolutionize agriculture, food security, and income levels among farmers.

Evelyne Okoth, a farmer at the Agoro East aggregated farm

Header photo: James Lenolkujuka surveys the wilderness outside his home in Lodung’okwe, Kenya. Kabir Dhanji/CGIAR.

CGIAR Centers

The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT; IWMI


County Government of Kisumu (Kenya) (CGKK); County Government of Vihiga (Kenya) (CVK); Dryland Natural Resource Center (DNRC); Intersectoral Forum on Agrobiodiversity and Agroecology (ISFAA); Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO); National Museums of Kenya (NMK); Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (Kenya) (PELUM Kenya).