Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Keeping the Culture in Agriculture: Smart Farming

At Nuru International we believe strongly in continuous improvement and adapting our programs to ensure they are adequately serving our farmers and their families and helping them cope with the myriad of shocks that come their way. Over the next few days, I will be sharing a series of posts that highlight how our Rural Livelihoods programming is currently helping farmers to address household needs. 

Feed grasses, beans, maize, goat and sheep fattening, and dairy are just a few of the activities that are part of a Nuru farmer’s livelihood landscape. There is an inherent art to smallholder agriculture that is in delicate balance with the needs of subsistence and the limits of the enabling environment. This balance can easily become unhinged by external shocks, like drought, disease or price volatility. Smart farming, sound decision-making and best practices must represent an amalgamation of human culture and science. To be resilient, the farming system must evolve with that delicate balance in mind. 

For smallholder farmers, too much specialization in agriculture will put their livelihoods at high risk. On the other hand, if farmers diversify into various livelihood strategies to an excessive degree, they risk being trapped in a subsistence lifestyle. They would not be afforded the opportunities of a market-based approach. In either case, farmers risk being ensnared in or falling back to conditions of extreme poverty by waves of shocks, whether related to climate or economics. Nuru’s rural livelihood programming aims to thoroughly understand the contextual risks farmers experience and be a partner in the scaling of smart farming by:

  • Championing behavior change in agriculture
  • Localizing training and extension services
  • Driving adaptive programming with data 
  • Co-creating inclusive value chains  

Nuru encourages and enables the fusion of local, community-level, agricultural practice and knowledge with reputable agronomic and animal husbandry science. This fusion of art and science generated maize yield increases of 117 percent in two years in rural Kenya and ensured Nuru Ethiopia farmers were 214 percent more profitable than non-intervention farmers in 2017. Nuru is able to generate this impact through local leaders who are members of Nuru-supported farmer organizations and local professional staff. The local country office, with support, mentorship and advice from Nuru International, makes the final decisions regarding implemented activities. These activities will be further detailed in a series of posts intended to distill Nuru’s approach to rural livelihood development and invite collaboration from all interested parties. 

For more information, read about how Nuru International develops the capacity that lays the foundation for locally-led country projects