Our Circular Economy and Regenerative Agriculture programmes

Intensive farming and synthetic fertiliser use is having a devastating impact on soil health (up to 50% of soil in Kenya is degraded). Poor quality soil leads to bad harvests, trapping farmers and their families in poverty. As well as this, unprecedented droughts mean farmers are fighting for their very survival.

70% of Hand in Hand’s members are smallholder farmers, which is why we have developed a new, innovative approach that supports sustainable food production and improves farmers’ resilience. Our Circular Economy and Regenerative Agriculture approach regenerates the soil, restoring the environmental landscapes our members rely upon to earn a living.


Frequently asked questions

What is regenerative agriculture and circular economy? +

Regenerative Agriculture is defined as a set of “farming and grazing practices that reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity”. Regenerative agricultural practices go beyond sustainability: Regenerative agriculture systems are not only sustainable, but also help improving the environment while sustaining the farmland viability.

A circular economy model aims to: ​
- reduce environmental footprint through cleaner and more efficient production; ​
- make use of waste as a resource in new production processes;
- reduce the dependence on external resources and generates more jobs and incomes.

How has the curriculum been developed? +

Our Circular Economy and Regenerative Agriculture (CERA) curriculum has been developed and led by farmers, trainers and Hand in Hand’s CERA team, working in partnership with leading agroecologists. The project was funded by IKEA Foundation.

How do you expect smallholder farmers living below the poverty line to afford to make the transition to regenerative agriculture? +

By using circular economy techniques (such as making feeds and fertilizers from parts of the crop that cannot be used) farmers can reduce their costs and their dependence on expensive commercial products. This will offset the costs (or initial loss of revenue) associated with transitioning to regenerative farming practices. Hand in Hand trainers will also support farmers to access credit, via links to financial institutions, and through our own Enterprise Incubation Fund. We are seeking to establish more partnerships with financial institutions and MFIs.

Will this work in arid landscapes? +

By introducing farmers to a range of different techniques ( through the use of ‘demo farms’, and by supporting them to share their insights and knowledge with their peers) programme members will be able to identify the tools and practices that work for their farms, whatever the landscape.

Why are you focusing on grassroots advocacy? +

By empowering farmers to a) manage their own and their community’s natural resources and b) advocate for policies that support regenerative farming practices at both a local and national level they will create an environment that supports the further uptake of regenerative agriculture and circular practices.

Additionally, farmers will be empowered to share their knowledge and insights, as well as making the ‘business case’ (based on higher yields and lower costs) with their peers – which will expand the project’s reach organically.

How quickly do you expect to see results? +

After six months, farmers will have the skills and knowledge to implement these regenerative and circular practices on their farms. They will have the capacity to identify and create market linkages to circular value chain opportunities. Farmers will have increased their agency and will be able to improve the governance of communal resources and landscapes.

After 12 months, farmers will have implemented regenerative and circular farming practices and soil health will have already started to improve. Farmers will also have begun to capitalise on new and existing circular value chain opportunities.

After three years, farms will have fully transitioned to regenerative agriculture practices. Soil health will have improved to the extent where farmers no longer see declining yields.

Within the next two years farmers will see increased yield and incomes.

How will you measure income uplift? +

Monthly farm revenue and costs will be collected through interviews with sampled farmers.

How will climate gains be measured – including carbon sequestration? +

Impact will be measured using the UNFAO’s Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE) which measures the extent farms are using regenerative practices, as well as changes in soil health. Crop yield will be measured by calculating farms’ Total Factor Productivity.

We are currently measuring how much carbon is sequestered on demo farms. From this we aim to develop a tool to estimate carbon sequestration on individual smallholder farms.

Will it be possible to support this programme via carbon offsetting programmes? +

Not now, but this may be possible in the future.

How much does the Hand in Hand Circular Economy and Regenerative Agriculture Programme cost? +

Hand in Hand works in 33 of the 47 counties in Kenya -- and our size and scale means we can deliver our programmes in a way that's extremely cost effective. The cost to deliver the curriculum will vary by region and project. To find out more, please contact Amalia Johnsson, Director of Programmes ajohnsson@hihinternational.org.

What is its ROI? +

Hand in Hand’s four-step entrepreneurship training programmes in East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) have a typical ROI of 3:1. Our Circular Economy and Regenerative Agriculture (CERA) programme is still being assessed.