From Seed to Table Programme (FStT)

From Seed to Table (FStT) was a major 3-year programme aimed to encourage urban farmer groups to innovate their local production systems, to engage in value-adding activities and establish innovative short marketing channels in 18 major cities, and to enhance the capacities of NGOs to support them effectively in such activities. The FStT programme also facilitated local policy making and innovative financing in support of small-scale commercial urban agriculture. FStT was coordinated by the RUAF Foundation and implemented by 7 RUAF network partners in cooperation with local government, NGOs and universities.

Project duration: 3 years

Funding: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the Netherlands), International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Canada) and programme partners (25 %)  

Programme partners:

The International Secretariat of the RUAF Foundation was responsible for the overall coordination of the programme. The following RUAF partners coordinated the CFF activities in their region

  • IPES - Promoción del Desarrollo Sostenible, Peru: Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil
  • IWMI - International Water Management Institute; a. India office: India and Sri Lanka; b. Ghana office: Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone
  • IAGU - Institut Africain de Gestion Urbaine, Senegal: Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso
  • MDP-ESA - Municipal Development Partnership in East and Southern Africa, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia
  • AUB-ESDU - Environment and Sustainable Development Unit of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon: Yemen, Jordan.
  • IGSNRR - Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, China: China

In each of the 18 project cities the regional RUAF partner cooperated with local government departments, NGOs, farmer groups, universities and other stakeholders.


  • Design of a set of training materials (5 languages) and training of trainers (42 persons).
  • Training of 332 staff (42 % female) of the NGOs, municipal departments and universities, in the RUAF chain development approach “From Seed to Table” (FStT), including: participatory market analysis, organisation of functional urban farmer groups, participatory design of a production, processing and marketing plan for a selected “most promising product”, monitoring methods, sustainable urban farming technologies.
  • Design, implementation and monitoring of 18 urban agriculture value chain projects, and establishment of 18 farmer-led enterprises with urban producer groups in 17 cities. These enterprises include the production and processing of one or more “most promising” vegetables or livestock products and the direct marketing of these products to urban consumers, schools, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants. The “most promising” products were identified based on a participatory market analysis and business planning.
  • Design and implementation of “urban farmer field schools” to develop the knowledge and skills required to implement their short-chain project in a sustainable way. Producer groups were supported with technical and organisational training through the implementation of Urban Producer Field Schools and exchange visits. In total, more than 1800 urban producers (58 % female) from 1650 households have been trained in joint processing and direct marketing of well-selected products. Where needed, specific training sessions for women were organised on such subjects as leadership training, management and marketing; participation of women farmers in the FStT projects and in the decision-making and management of the producer groups and associative businesses was enhanced.
  • Strengthening of the urban farmer organisations by designing and implementing a plan for organisational strengthening for each organisation based on a participatory analysis of strengths and weaknesses (SWOT analysis). This plan included group building, leadership and management training, establishment of a group fund and savings scheme and building linkages with strategic support organisations.
  • Analysis of the funding needs of urban producers and the constraints they encounter to access credit and other financial support, and of the interest of local banks and credit institutions in providing loans to urban farmer groups and adapting their loan conditions.
  • Enhancement of the capacities of local NGOs in the FStT approach, participatory market analysis, project design and implementation, urban farming system improvement, strengthening farmer organisations and financing urban agriculture.
  • Continued support to the multi-stakeholder forums regarding the implementation of the city strategic action plans (formulated during the Cities Farming for the Future programme) and the formulation of urban agriculture-related policies and bylaws.
  • Systematisation of experiences gained in the FStT projects as a basis for information exchange, distance learning and planning of future activities.

Results obtained:

  • The capacity of 18 local NGOs was enhanced with regard to participatory design and the implementation of sustainable short value chains with urban producer groups.
  • 34 urban producer groups have been strengthened.
  • The income of 1650 households was enhanced by an average of 15-25 % by the realisation of a wide range of innovations which can be characterised as technical (use of new varieties or bio-pesticides, seedling production, crop rotation or association, pest and disease management, hygienic processing) and organisational (joint production planning and marketing, record keeping, quality control, improved decision-making and management, and creation of a savings scheme and/or a revolving fund). On average, 85 % of all households also benefited from improved food security (increased vegetable consumption, increased dietary diversity), 75 % of the households also improved their access to production and marketing infrastructure, and 65 %  of the households also benefited from enhanced access to water (as a result of instalment of wells, boreholes or rainwater harvesting systems).
  • As a result of financing studies and lobbying activities, 23 credit institutions established working relations with urban farmer groups to jointly design adequate credit and financing schemes; 11 institutions modified their loan and financing conditions to enhance access to financing (accepting group loans; lowering collateral requirements and interest rates), and 14 institutions increased their level of annual financing for urban agriculture. Several local governments are now providing urban farmers with temporary user rights that can serve as collateral for obtaining a commercial loan.
  • The number of organisations participating in these multi-stakeholder forums (MSFs) increased from 273 to 365. Most of the MSFs now develop an annual work plan and implement yearly a variety of projects related to urban agriculture drawing on their own resources or external funding attracted by the organisations participating in the MSF. In 14 of the 17 cities, policies on urban agriculture have been or are being formulated and bylaws and ordinances have been or are being designed or revised.
  • RUAF-FStT has also been supporting policy and programme development on urban agriculture at the provincial or national level in 12 countries. This includes the development of specific policies/programmes on urban agriculture (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Colombia, Brazil, Western Province Sri Lanka) or its integration into broader policies and programmes on agriculture (Sierra Leone, India, Burkina Faso), food security (Benin) or urban development (Ghana, Burkina Faso).
  • The “lessons learned” were distributed to the various types of urban agriculture stakeholders (including municipal authorities, senior and field-level staff of governmental organisations, NGOs, urban producers, researchers and students) by publishing 5 policy briefs and fact sheets, 3 books, 28 articles, 7 working papers and study reports, 4 manuals/technical guidelines, 2 conference proceedings and 15 farmer bulletins. Also produced were 1 video and 4 issues of the Urban Agriculture Magazine (5 languages, 6,000 subscribers); additionally, the website now receives more than 750,000 visitors each year, and the number of page views and downloads per visitor has increased further.
  • Thirteen universities were assisted to design educational modules on urban agriculture, and a new distance-learning course in Spanish was developed in collaboration with FAO-Chile.


The following business plans and impact monitoring reports have been produced: