Kwale Farmers Embracing Conservative Agriculture

Kwale County Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization FAO, is rolling out a project named Increasing Small Holder Productivity and Profitability through Good Agriculture Practices (IPP-GAP), which is anticipated to bring change in the county’s agricultural sector.

This project focuses on production change whereby farmers will improve their productivity through adaptation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) such as use of improved planting technologies and use of improved seeds to enable them move from subsistence to commercial agriculture.

In Conservative Agriculture, farmers mainly focus on three key farming principles which are continuous minimum soil disturbance, permanent organic soil cover, mixed cropping and crop rotation. To minimize soil disturbance, farmers in Conservative Agriculture use
shallow weeder to get rid of the weeds.

Jipe Moyo Women Group L-Lunga receiving seeds  / Neema Mwachome

The project also sustains crop yields while saving on production resources, maintaining or improving soil fertility and conserving water and the environment to achieve acceptable and sustainable profits. Therefore through CA farmers can achieve both sustainable agriculture and improved livelihoods; farmers are enabled to receive an increased profit per unit and with the large volumes leading to optimized profits.

On Monday 11th December, 2017, Kwale County Director for Agriculture Mr. David Wanjala, flagged off the caravan distributing seeds, fertilizers, animal-drone and tractors drone implements to farmers within Lunga Lunga, Matuga and Msambweni sub counties.

The IPP-GAP Project that started back in 2015 targets 150 farmer groups from Kwale County and it is expected to run to 1st June 2018. Targeted farmers are trained by Kwale County Agricultural Extension Officers on how to specialize implements for planting and applied fertilizer.

Trainings are carried out at a central demonstration farm belonging to one of the farmers group. The group mentorship involves meeting each group for a minimum of 3 hours each week for a total of 15 weeks per cropping season.

Besides increased productivity, Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) links Kwale farmers to the markets. ‘’We want to ensure that farmers in this County produce quality, quantity and consistent produce.” said Mr.Wanjala. “The farmers should seek advice from the County Agricultural Officers to know which crops do better in their areas.’’ He added.

Among the many beneficiaries of the project which focuses on Semi-arid areas with little rain, is Jipe Moyo women group of Lunga Lunga with 26 members which started in 2009 with poultry farming, before adopting Conservative farming in 2015.

On her side, Agnes Gitahu, the chairlady of the Jipe Moyo women group said Conservative farming reduces costs. “We use herbicide to get rid of weeds and plant our crops; this herbicide is cheaper compared to the tractor service charge we pay when preparing our farms,” she said.

Jipe Moyo women group farmers rotate from one farmer to another in amerry go round way to help each other in planting, and they mainly grow maize, green grams, cow peas and cassava.

Source: Neema Mwachome

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