Thursday, August 6, 2015

Knowledge sharing through farmer field day

By Bob Aston
Farmers from Sipili area of Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County on August 4, 2015 learned about conservation agriculture and specifically its many benefits to smallholder farmers during a field day organized by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) at Peter Mwaniki’s farm near Sipili Catholic Church.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, Participatory Approaches for Integrated Development (PAFID), Kilimo Biashara Promoters and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society collaborated with ALIN in organizing the event.
Farmers being shown how a ripper works

Other organizations in attendance included; Pioneer Hi-Bred, Bell Industries Ltd, Syngenta Kenya, Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network, Top Serve E.A, and various self-help groups.

Speaking during the field day, Mr. James Kamau, Olmoran Ward Agriculture officer said that conservation agriculture reverses the effect of soil degradation caused by mechanical tillage. 
He noted that it ensures that the soil remains undisturbed from harvest to planting except for nutrient injection.
He said that weed control is also primarily by herbicides with little environmental impact. Conservation agriculture enables farmers to combine profitable agricultural production with environmental concerns and sustainability.
“Soil under conservation agriculture has very high water infiltration capacities thus reducing surface runoff and soil erosion which in turn improves the quality of surface water and an enhancement of ground water resources,” said Mr. Kamau.
Farmers being trained on conservation agriculture
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, conservation agriculture is a concept of “resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits together with high and sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment.”
“Conservation Agriculture is one of the ways in which we can use to mitigate against the adverse effects of Climate Change. We are using demonstration plots and field days to ensure farmers adopt it,” said Mr. Kamau.
Mr. Juma Oliver from PAFID urged more farmers to adopt conservation agriculture in order to reduce production cost.
“Cost of production is on the rise. It is important for farmers to look for ways of reducing mechanical tillage and labour cost. Conservation agriculture not only reduces on cost of production but also has a lot of benefits to farmers,” said Mr. Juma.
He urged farmers to replicate what they learn and to teach others so that more farmers can also adopt conservation agriculture. He said that farmers should not harm their soil, as this will affect production.
The farmer field day provided an avenue for farmers to interact, share information, and learn best agricultural practices from each other. The field day enabled them to learn the difference between conservation and conventional agriculture.
An officer from Pionner Hi-Bred addressing farmers
Farmers were also able to learn about Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS). PICS bag is a viable management tool for preventing aflatoxin accumulation in storage. PICS bag also minimizes cost of storage as well as reducing post-harvest grain losses.
Mr. Kanja Waweru, Chairman Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society said that increase in maize production would help the cooperative, as members will be able to aggregate their produce and seek for better market through bargaining power.
He said that farmers should not fear investing in maize production as the cooperative would be able to supply maize to schools through Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) on behalf of the farmers.
Conservation agriculture holds tremendous potential for all sizes of farms and agro-ecological systems. Smallholder farmers facing acute labour shortage can immensely benefit from conservation agriculture.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...