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Promoting farmer to farmer learning in western Kenya

CRP 7 News -

It was early morning. The weather was chilly and wet. A brisk wind swept through the rain across Kapsorok village, Soin-Sigowet sub county of Kericho. The bumpy ride through the countryside provided a clear testimony of climate-related risks that rural farming communities are faced with in this Western part of Kenya. Deep gulleys were visible, trapping tons of rich topsoil by the roadside. It was time for the annual farmer-learning event. By nine o'clock, we joined hundreds of farmers in the village to learn about innovative farming technologies and practices viable to them, given the increasingly unpredictable weather.

The 2016 farmer field days were organized by two Nyando community-based organizations (CBOs) namely Friends of Katuk Odeyo (FOKO) and Kapsokale together with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and Vi Agroforestry. The event took place in Kapsorok on 12 July and Obinju on 13 July in Soin-Sigowet and Nyakach sub-counties.

Nyando’s smart farms

Solar powered water pump

A solar powered water pump in one of Nyando's smart farms managed by youth groups. Photo: V.Atakos (CCAFS)

The farmers visited smart farms managed by young farmers. Smart farm technologies include greenhouse farming of up to one quarter of a hectare, combined with drip irrigation with the advantage of saving water. The greenhouse is free from flooding and drought and offers better control of pests and diseases. The production cycle is regular, therefore the harvest can be better timed for local markets. Greenhouse farming represents a shift from open crop cultivation.

Other smart farm technologies include rainwater harvesting, soil fertility conservation, crop diversification and fish farming. For example, next to their greenhouse, the Obinju youth group has established two water pans with a total capacity of over 250,000 litres having over 1,000 tilapia fish. These farms serve as demonstration sites for youth and women groups engaged in agriculture. Due to the nature of the intensive knowledge and skills required to operate the greenhouse production units, youth groups are trained as part of the process of advancing local adaptation actions.

“Before establishment of the smart farm, our members were involved in sand harvesting from the adjacent River Kapsorok and charcoal burning. This accelerated expansion of gulleys and degradation of riverine vegetation. Now we have tomatoes in the greenhouse and other vegetables in the open field. The fish provide an additional source of income and nutrition,” said Vincent Cheruiyot, Chair of Kapsorok smart farm.

Resilient goat and sheep breeds

Galla goats

Galla goats on Paul Rono's farm. Photo: V. Atakos (CCAFS)

Farmers also visited Joshua Omollo and Paul Rono who are keeping improved livestock breeds. These include fast maturing Gala goats with high twining birth rates, tolerant to pests and diseases and also fetch good market prices. In addition, they also keep Red Maasai sheep which they explained are more tolerant to heat stress and diseases compared to the local fat-tailed breed they kept previously.

The newly introduced gala goats can fetch 13,000-16,000ksh (USD 130-160) on a good market day. This is three to four times the cost of the local breeds.

The newly introduced gala goats can fetch 13,000-16,000ksh (USD 130 - 160) on a good market day. This is three to four times the cost of the local breeds and they only take six months to achieve maturity” explained Joshua Omollo, a smart farmer in Obinju Village.

The involvement of the CBO in goat and sheep rearing has also influenced people from other areas to learn from the community. Subsequently, cross breeding has led to the introduction of improved breeds which are not only drought-tolerant but also have faster maturity rates besides having better market yields. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) scientists provide technical support to the CBOs, through trained community paravets, to prevent inbreeding.

Crop diversification

On Paul Rono’s farm, drought-tolerant varieties of sorghum and finger millet draws one’s attention. Compared to neighbouring farmers, Paul is expecting a good harvest. The adoption of the early maturing and drought-tolerant varieties has helped many farmers in Nyando manage the risks posed by climate variability. Other crop varieties grown include: pigeon peas, cowpeas, green grams and sweet potatoes to supplement the traditional maize, cassava and bean staples.

Way forward

To wrap up the learning events, farmers, agriculture extension officers, non-governmental organisations attending the event and CCAFS officers held meetings to discuss emerging issues and how to further promote uptake of technologies and practices.

“CCAFS and the partners are doing a commendable job, a clear gesture that residents of lower Nyakach are headed for a brighter future with climate-smart agriculture,” said Yonah Koko Maina, the area Member of County Assembly (MCA) who attended the learning event. He further noted collaboration with the county government would accelerate the uptake of CSA. He pledged eight water pumps to active CBOs in the area.

CCAFS will continue partnering with like-minded organizations to avail and promote evidence-based solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

View photos of the event below:

Partners working in the Nyando climate-smart villages include Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF), Magos Farm Enterprises, Maseno University, County Government  of Kisumu,  Vi Agroforestry and Thin Qubator Aquaculture. They also participated in the farmer learning event.

Designing gender equality

Gender and Agriculture News -

Increasing agricultural productivity through gender equality. Just one of the eleven positive outcomes which can arise through the establishment of a more equal society.

In the aim of illustrating the importance of gender equality, capacity development staff at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) produced a poster illustrating how yield of crops, land ownership and livelihood may be improved through the equal treatment of men and women.

The ILRI poster illustrates how a gender equal society can lead to an increased accessibility to health care, education and income for women and their families across Africa.

Download the poster: Dror, I., Wyburn, D. and Tegbaru, A. 2016. Designing for gender equity. Poster. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.


Filed under: Africa, Asia, CapDev, CRP12, Gender, Gender news, LGI Tagged: poster

Africa’s indigenous land grabs—African middle-aged public-sector urbanites in rush to buy farmland

Clippings -

Charles Murithi_KS_Farmer

Charles Murithi, Kenyan farmer (photo credit: BurnessGlobal/Jeff Haskins).

For middle-class Tanzanians . . . a successful farmer trumps a successful academic. . . . [A] quiet, hard-to-track but momentous change [is happening] in Africa, which has profound consequences for the continent’s most important industry.

‘[I]n Kenya, Malawi and Zambia (though not in Ghana) most medium-sized farms were not built by successful smallholders but bought by urbanites. In Tanzania, where about one-third of the population is urban, city-dwellers are thought to own 33% of the farmland, up from just 12% a decade ago. Typically, the new farmers are middle-aged public-sector workers.

The popular obsession with foreign land grabs is wrong-headed, says Isaac Minde of Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro. If there is a land grab in Africa, it is being done by African urbanites.

‘City-dwellers are going into farming partly because legal reforms have made buying land easier and ownership a little more secure. Another reason is that urban growth is making crops and meat more valuable. Still another is the weakness of African manufacturing, which means city-dwellers lack good places to invest their cash. Most important of all, public-sector jobs seldom pay enough to sustain an upper-middle-class lifestyle.

Mr Kavishe, who grows maize and keeps several thousand laying hens, is surprised to be asked whether he earns more than he did as a university administrator. Of course the chickens are more lucrative.

‘. . . Tanzania’s urban farmers also have one foot in the old Africa and another foot in the new one. They are mostly the children of farmers and found it easy to return to the family line. Yet these men are not quite following their parents. . . . [T]hey farm close to the cities where they made their careers. Several predict that their children will have no interest in farming. They are a transitional generation. In a strange way, the rush to acquire farmland shows that Africa is becoming properly urban.’

Read the whole article in The Economist: Africa’s real land grab: Never mind foreign interlopers—African urbanites are scooping up more land, 23 Jul 2016.


Filed under: Agriculture, Article, East Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Southern Africa, Tanzania Tagged: The Economist, Zambia

Understanding gender roles in small ruminant health management in Ethiopia

CRP 3.7 News -

According to female farmers in Ethiopia ‘Sheep are like fast growing cabbage in the homestead’. A recent poster illustrates the significance of small ruminants for men and women in Ethiopia. Scientists observed gendered differences in perceptions of disease, as well as responsibilities for rearing of animals (read a related blog post).

Download the poster: Wieland, B. 2016. Understanding gender roles in small ruminant health management in Ethiopia. Poster. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.


Filed under: Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Gender, Goats, ILRI, Livestock, Research, Sheep, Small Ruminants, Value Chains

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