By Robin Workman, John Hine, Andrew Otto, Peter Njenga, Wynand Bezuidenhout
TRL Limited and the International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD) are delivering this project on the evaluation of the cost-beneficial improvement of first mile access on small-scale farming and agricultural marketing, on behalf of DFID for the Research for Community Access Partnership (ReCAP). The project is concerned with the improvement of the initial transport segment and the transport services associated with transferring harvest produce from the farm to established road access in Kenya and Tanzania.
A large amount of data was collected and analysed under Phase 3. Results were disaggregated to highlight gender and socio-economic issues. A discussion section was included in the Phase 3 report which identifies the main findings from the research and how they are relevant to the main themes of this research. Some tentative recommendations were identified for discussion at the regional workshop in November 2018.
This report sets out the key activities undertaken during Phase 4, including the Cost Benefit Analysis, the final regional workshop and the main scientific paper for publication in a relevant journal. An assessment of the workshop can be seen in the Annexes to this report.
The main findings of the project are:
Initial transport costs and crop losses account for reductions in the region of 30 to 40% of net incomes of potatoes and pineapples in Tanzania. While for French beans in Kenya, the associated reduction in net incomes is around 10 to 15%.
A key factor affecting farmers’ incomes is the degree of competition amongst buyers, especially in Kenya. Farmers in Meru received approximately half the price for their French beans than those in Machakos. The buyer in Meru also discouraged the formation of a farmers’ association.
Initial high transport costs of head/backloading and other low capacity forms of transport are many times more expensive, expressed per tonne-km, than by trucks. Overall the analysis demonstrates the importance of reducing first mile transport costs and the associated crop losses to a minimum.
The Cost Benefit Analysis showed a good return on investment of 47% IRR to improve access roads and bring them within an average of 0.5 km of the farm, from the previous average of 1.0 km. This was a specific sample taken from one area, with a number of assumptions, but gives a snapshot that suggests upgrading is economically viable under certain circumstances.
The report also includes sections on the implications of the research and further research that could be beneficial in further understanding the dynamics of First Mile transport and how it affects farmers. The potential implications include the main expected outputs of the research, including the effect on transport costs on the First Mile, relationships between transport and incomes, gender perspectives and the potential costs and benefits of improving First Mile roads. Areas have been identified where further research will enhance the understanding of farmers livelihoods as a result of road condition, such as integrated planning of infrastructure and transport services, looking at the secondary transport segment, community involvement in road maintenance and understanding some of the less obvious results of the data collected. The regional workshop was held as part of a ReCAP Transport Services event, and was linked with the PIARC conference in Arusha in November 2018.
The project had a scientific paper on road condition data collection accepted and presented at the SARF conference in Durban in October 2018, and it also had a further paper on First Mile access accepted and presented at the PIARC conference in Arusha in November 2018. These two events provided a good opportunity to disseminate the results of the project and build awareness of the issues related to First Mile access. A scientific paper for publication in a relevant journal is under preparation and will be completed for submission to the Journal of Transport Land Use by the end of the project.
This research will add value to the body of evidence on First Mile access through investigation of a large sample of the small-scale farming population, taking account of the differences in transport costs and access constraints for well-connected and remote rural farmers located in the same market catchment, growing the same crops. It also assesses the potential for low-cost engineering measures to be used in the primary transport segment as part of community driven development projects going forward.