22 January 2013

Kenya: Embrace Conservation Agriculture, Kakamega Told

Photo: Mujahid Safodien/IRIN
Smallholder farmers from Swaziland’'s eastern Lubombo District are using conservation techniques to grow crops other than maize.

FARMERS have been asked to embrace Conservation Agriculture (CA) to help the country attain attain food security.

Experts at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari), who are leading efforts in popularising a CA project dubbed Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Systems for Food Survey in Eastern and Southern Africa (Simlesa), says the programme has potential to ensure Kenya becomes economically stable and address problems related to malnutrition.

"CA is a bright concept that points towards efforts to realise food security and self-reliance," said George Ayaga, the Deputy Centre Director of Kari in Kakamega and Western Simlesa site.

"It has been tried and tested in other countries. The programme has given farmers in Western Kenya a lifeline and other parts of the country need to follow suit," he said.

CA is a concept for resource-saving crop production that seeks to achieve acceptable profits alongside high and sustained production levels.

It concurrently conserves the environment as farmers practice inter-cropping between crops and trees and use Round-up chemical to kill weeds instead of constantly breaking the soils during tilling.

The Simlesa concept was initiated in 2010 in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, Australia and Kenya. In Kenya, the project was dissected into Western and Eastern regions and placed under the aegis of Kari.

"The idea was meant to address challenges associated with production of maize and legumes in order to increase farm-level food security and productivity in consideration of climate risks," said Ayaga.

"Simlesa people have helped us realise our potential, they taught us how to inter-crop maize and beans and realise good results," said Monica Akinyi, a farmer from Alego.

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