Rural Energy and Food security Organization [RERSO] was founded in 1996 as a membership N On governmental Organization based in Busia town. The aim was to strengthen and empower rural communities in food production, processing and marketing, agro-forestry, tree planting, energy conservation and natural resources management in sugar belt and tobacco growing zones in western Kenya.
Tobacco and Sugarcane, being the, main cash crop with reliable market, have diverted attention of the rural communities away from food crops. Very little or no land is set aside for food crop production. The two cash crops are also labor intensive and require constant attention at the expense of food crops. Food self –sufficiency for the rural communities is therefore threatened. Impacts on the environment are also negative considering the fact that trees have to cure tobacco or have a uniform stand of sugarcane for mechanized production.
Since 1999 REFSO has been actively involved in promoting cassava, sweet potato and agro forestry activities in Busia, Teso and Bungoma districts of western Kenya among CBOS and rural communities. The emphasis has been on promoting the wide speed diffusion of tested technologies from institutions and farmers to increase food productivity. REFSO has been able to reach out over 2000peasant farmers with such technologies that have proved viable.
The main challenge facing REFSO is to reach out t0 wider beneficiary community in western Kenya and Eastern Uganda with these technologies. This five year strategic plan developed during workshop from 9/12 April 2001 was a deliberate effort by REFSO to respond to these challenges and to reposition itself so as to reaming relevant to its constituencies.
The plan is a product of consensus on the way forward by representatives from the REFSO Board ,secretariat, CBOS, KARI ICRAF, Ministry of Agriculture and rural development, other relevant government ministries and partner organization in Western Kenya and Eastern Uganda herein referred to as key stakeholders. We sincerely thank them for all their contributions. Its development and production was supported by USAID/REDSO through pact and Mwengo.
The document outlines REFSOs five year plan 2002-2006 and a commitment to mainstream strategic thinking while implementing these intentions. We call upon each and everyone for a sustained partnership and support in implementing this strategic plan. Long live REFSO.
VISION, MISSION AND CORE VALUES
To give REFSO focus, future direction and purpose it was necessary to formulate its vision, mission core values.
REFSOs vision is a food secure population in a friendly environment.
REFSO s mission is to mobilize, sensitize and empower communities to empower communities to enhance sustainable household food security in western Kenya and Eastern Uganda.
2.3 CORE VALUE
REFSO shall endeavor to promote and maintain the following core value
.Honesty and integrity.
.Transparency and accountability
.commitment and professionalism.
.Environment friendliness .
.Obedience to the law of the land
.Sensitivity to traditional and cultural value
.Non-partisan [non-political ] approach to development.
3.3 STRATEGIC ANALYSIS
Strategic analysis helps in clarifying the conditions within which the organization and the factors that affect the organization . The result of this analysis provide a good indication of what the objectives and strategies of the organization will be . The following were identified as REFSOs strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
REFSOs has established cordial working relations with its collaborators They are drawn from government , national and international NGOS, CBOS, and the private sector e.g. KARI,KEFRI,ICRAF,Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources [Forest Department and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
CBOs are key players in REFSOs work at the grassroots level because REFSO mainly works through them. Penetration to the community is through CBOs . A majority of the CBO members, who are farmers, act as technology dissemination agents, to and from REFSO, and enhance faster adoption. Other contact farmers who are not CBO members are also actively involved in technology dissemination and sharing of experiences.
REFSO has also developed information and communication systems. This has led to improved communication between the REFSO secretariat and its stakeholders.
The opportunities to REFSO are increasing levels of depleted soil fertility due to mono cropping, leaching and soil erosion. The high rate of vitamin A deficiency which leads to Exophthalmia [night blindness and the high incidences of the African mosaic virus that wiped out the cassava plant in western Kenya and Eastern Uganda in the late 80s and 90s have also availed opportunities.
High rate of deforestation in Western Kenya associated with tobacco and farming , charcoal burning and sugarcane farming, charcoal burning and brick making is another opportunity for REFSO to introduce a natural resource management program. These are enhance by the increasing costs of accessing modern medicine making REFSO s high value trees domestication [medicinal ] programme highly attractive .
The East African co-operation opened doors for cross border activities. This is an opportunity for REFSO to implement its regional activities [Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya] .
Shifting donor priorities, competition from other NGOs, unpredictable government policies on regional agricultural programmers’ pose threats to REFSOs. In addition, There are erratic weather patterns, shared natural resources culture and superstition especially in three planting and land ownership rights. From the analysis of REFSOs operation environment, the following strategic areas have been synthesized for REFSO to focus on the next five years Objectives and strategies will be formulated around these key issues .
4.1 INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY BULDING
REFSO is a nascent organization whose service are in high demand both in Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya . Community organizations and contact farmers looks look to REFSO to facilitate self –reliance and sustainable development in food security in the region .In order to respond to these demands and challenges it is necessary that REFSOs institutional capacity is developed and sustained . REFSO will endeavor to meet these by focusing on development and efficient utilization of human and non human resources.
4.2 TECHNICAL PACKAGES
Recent development approaches focus on initiatives that are likely to bring greater benefits to local, poor and disadvantaged communities. Among the options that will lead towards increase access and availability of food security are interventions that will access and availability of food reserves. Such innovations include agricultural technical packages , research institutions and communities , innovation / best practices. REFSO is committed to repackages by identifying, capturing and disseminating them to communities and other stakeholder for wider adoption .