Using social network analysis to improve the working conditions of sorghum farmers in Kenya

October 2022
Lucas, a farmer with a disability and a network hub manager stands in front of his shop. The writing on the shop says: “Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture East Africa. Atwendi Farmers Solution and Aggregation Centre.”
Lucas, a network hub manager, helps farmers to access farm inputs, machinery and a market for their produce.
© Ninth Wonder Productions/Sightsavers

Inclusive Futures partner LINC is conducting a social network analysis of the main actors in the Farmers’ Hub Model being used in the Global Labor Program in Kenya.

Social network analysis (SNA) is the process of investigating social structures using networks and graph theory. It characterises networked structures in terms of nodes (individual actors, people, or firms within the network) and the ties, edges, or links (relationships or interactions) that connect them.

The objective of the SNA was to understand how smallholder sorghum farmers with and without disabilities relate with other actors in the sorghum value chain network, specifically farm input suppliers, hub owners, and aggregators. This Systems Thinking approach focused on probing the farmers and other actors to understand the relationships among them and how well they are connected to one another. Ultimately, the findings of the SNA will be used to identify areas of the network where the programme might have the greatest effect on improving the working conditions of people with disabilities in the sorghum agricultural value chain.

SNA is critical to providing an understanding of the existing relationships in the sorghum value chain, particularly because this information has not been gathered or analysed elsewhere.

Linc logo.


LINC is using its tested systems tools, such as SNA, to facilitate learning in the Global Labor Program – Inclusive Futures.

About LINC
A diagram showing how the farmers' hub model connects different actors to the services described in the article. In the bottom right-hand corner the text reads:
The Farmers' hub model

From the beginning, LINC worked closely with Sightsavers to plan and coordinate the SNA process. It also engaged other GLP-IF partners, like East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL), Syngenta Foundation, United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK), and representatives of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities, to train data enumerators on disability awareness and considerations, orient them on the sorghum value chain and Farmers’ Hub Model, and support the data collection team in the mobilisation of survey respondents.

The SNA activities targeted male and female farmers who are already engaged in the East Africa Breweries value chain. It targeted 20 smallholder farmers, who were sampled based on specific attributes that considered gender, disability, and participation in the value chain, and 40 other value chain actors. LINC’s local partner, Q Data Mapping and Services (QDATAMS) led the data collection process, which took place in Homa Bay County. The SNA process was launched in June 2022 and you can read the findings here.