The Tobacco-Free Farms project was launched in 2022 as pilot project in Migori county. It is a joint initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Government of Kenya.[1] In Migori county, farmers have planted high-iron beans as a first alternative crop, with UN agencies and government providing training and quality inputs such as seeds and fertilizers. Further, the World Food Programme’s local procurement initiative provided a ready market for the harvest.[2] This support enables the farmers to stop tobacco-growing contractual agreements and switch to alternative food crops that will help feed communities, with confidence that a long-term market exists.[3] Growing beans has the added advantage that they are full of iron, which helps to counter numerous health and development problems among children and pregnant women.[4]

The government and the three UN organizations plan to pass on the experience and knowledge gained from this pilot project to farmers along the “tobacco belt” in Kuria West.[5]

Apart from the UN organizations, another partner in the project is the Farm to Market Alliance. Since the Alliance members include Bayer, Syngenta and AGRA[6], their involvement has to be critically questioned: after the pilot project phase, dependencies on seed, pesticide and fertiliser corporations often arise quickly.

Kenya is the first country selected to roll out this project, encouraging as a key player in the fight against the tobacco epidemic.

For more information read the news of the project launch here.