The question of agro/pastoral livelihoods adaptation is gaining attention in the rural development arena but little empirical evidence exists that has examined the performance and impact of diversified enterprises on agro/pastoral livelihoods and the environment in the ASAL, and on how to effectively support such initiatives. Additionally, there has been little evaluation of the type of behavioural patterns that agro/pastoral communities need to evolve in order to engage in such initiatives. This research study endeavours to bridge this knowledge-gap and assist the ASAL communities, NGOs, CBOs and government departments to understand the skills and resources required to develop climate-resilient, environmentally and economically sustainable bio-enterprises. This study examines the roles of bio-enterprise initiatives in enabling agro/pastoralists to develop more resilient livelihoods and incentivising positive community-led natural resource management and draws on different bio-enterprise initiatives located across the drylands of Kenya. In this study data was collected through interviews, focus group discussions and from secondary data. The analysis of four agro/pastoral bio-enterprise initiatives compares the level of success of specifically orientated development-funded support schemes. A more in-depth study was made of one of the initiatives, the BDP. Two surveys were made one year apart and secondary data was collected of the BDP impact. This highlighted the probable factors that influence the communities’ up-take of these bio-enterprises. Results show that this diversification requires stakeholders and support-actors to gain a greater understanding of business development approaches. Other factors such as capacity development to ensure production meets market standards, strong linkages with ethical commercial operators, access to trade-finance and ongoing mentoring proved to be the main drivers of success in these initiatives. The results show that the outputs of the BDP service-providing activities and the ethical trade facilities have been a major factor in the level of success achieved by the BDP. The main policy implications that this study has shown are: Agro/pastoralists realise that they can improve their resilience, food security and incomes by developing bio-enterprises. If conducted using conservation practices, this is an effective conservation and drought management tool. Communities do not possess the necessary skills and business acumen to diversify from traditional activities. Due to the lack of market knowledge, business acumen and technical skills many development and government instigated rural enterprise initiatives have failed. The commercial sector has strong transferable skills and will assist in developing bio-enterprises where commercial gains can be attained. This study has shown that where government, development and the private sector work in synergy projects are more socially, environmentally and economically successful. International standards and certification for sustainable harvesting of indigenous plant materials will effectively assist communities to manage their natural resource utilization and market their products more competitively. Women have shown that they have control over small-scale diversified activities and are able to choose how to use the revenue they have raised. Due to the orientation of agro/pastoralists to collective-action a wide ripple-effect can be seen from well-targeted business development assistance such as: mentoring, skills development, access to affordable trade finance/capital, improved market opportunities and value-addition.

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