BIG: Field Research

The paper ‘Capacity Development for Entrepreneurial Smallholders in Western Kenya’,
was written last year by David and Umit, TU Delft students who visited Bondo as
part of the minor. They describe their research on the technical and financial part of
greenhouses and the level of professionalism of the farmers in Bondo. It was concluded
that the major knowledge gaps involved management skills and the capacity to harvest
water. Their research was the fundament for our own research.
To make sure the course we were going to develop would contain all the necessary
information, we needed to get a good impression of the occurring problems within
greenhouse farming.

In the first weeks after arriving in Bondo, farmers and local organizations were
visited to investigate the possibilities of water harvesting in the area of Bondo and
to get the farmers’ opinions on greenhouse farming. Mr. Achuti took us to farmers
with a successful greenhouse, a failed greenhouse and someone with the wish of
owning one. He also took us to the ARO Development Centre, a Kenyan organisation
facilitating development activities, e.g. trainings and courses, environmental programs,
accommodation and conferences. Mr. Achuti is one of the trainers giving a course on
horticulture. We had the opportunity to join a class and experience the Kenyan way of
teaching. This was a good experience for us, as we had to think of the structure and
organisation of the course on greenhouse farming.
We had conversations with the farmers to assess their level of agricultural knowledge,
their methods on water harvesting, their financial and management skills, and in case
they owned a greenhouse, their knowledge on greenhouse farming. A detailed portrait
of the farmers can be found at Field Research  or watch the Videos.
As a guideline for our conversations with the farmers, we made a list of research
questions. With these questions our aim was to make an assessment of the level of
knowledge, skills and capacity for the purpose of the development of the course.
After the visits we concluded that most of the farmers understood the benefit of a
greenhouse and are eager to have the ability to fully implement the technology, but the
costs in combination with the risk of failure were a big hiccup.

Research Questions
Agricultural Knowledge
• Watering of the plants; how often and how much water?
• Which crops do you grow and why?
• Have you had any diseases, plagues etc?
• Do you use fertilizers?
• How do you prepare your soil?
• How long is one cycle of the plants you grow?
Technical Knowledge
• How do you manage your water supply?
• How did you choose the design for your greenhouse? What are important aspects to
take into account when constructing a greenhouse?
• What kind of irrigation do you use?
• What do you do in times of drought?
Marketing knowledge
• Where do you sell your products?
• How do you manage your transportation?
• How you determine the price of the products?
Financial knowledge
• What are your cost and revenue streams?
• Do you save?
• Is this your only source of income?
• Do you have a business plan?
• How did you finance your greenhouse?
• For whom do you have to provide?
Managerial knowledge
• Do you make a planning of your production?
• What are your plans for the future?
• Who works in the greenhouse? Who sells the products? Do you have an organizational
• Do you have a smartphone?
Knowledge of greenhouse farming
• Have you followed any courses?
Opinion on greenhouse farming
• Why did you choose for greenhouse farming, or why don’t you?