Bondo – Homabay
Rural Kenya Shakes up food shortage with new farming techniques
MAGINA, Homabay – It’s early morning and Duncan Yongo 32, prepares his “jembe”, the local name for farming hoe. Yongo heads to his farm to till the land as he awaits the rainy season. . Tilling allows for surface leaves and compost to mix with and enrich the soil.
Yongo is in a jovial mood and whistles as he works. He is excited because he has recently moved from his parents’ homestead, established a new home and embarked on farming through the RDN project.
Meanwhile, Yongo’s wife and children are spreading their harvest for to dry, removing corn kernels and preparing a portion for milling and the rest for storage. Yongo notes that the Riana Development Network (RDN) project “Creating Decent Employment Opportunities Program” (CREDEEP) has been highly beneficial to him and his family. He has learned new skills that have contributed to successful job creation within the agricultural value chains. These include correct tilling methods, adapted cultivars, plant population, fertilization, weed, insects and disease control, harvesting, marketing and financial services for both quality and quantity options. Yongo has been able to overcome farming challenges and technical inequalities –
In Western Kenya, farmers tend to be suspicious of newly introduced seeds and fertilizers. They fear that they are not safe, may have negative consequences on food safety, cause soil pollution and poor harvests etc.. In survey conducted in 2010 as part of a push by Kenya’s government and Maseno University to clarify the effects of use of nitrogenous fertilizers and biosolids on farms has so far educated the people on safer farming methods that can cut poverty in the region. Luckily this training encompasses part of the curriculum that Yongo and others have thoroughly gone through.
In addition, farmers, in this region lack access to markets. This is partly due to their inability to maintain consistent and quality produce as required by the markets. Through CREDEEP, consistency and quality of production is being addressed as well as the opportunities for farmers to collaborate and bargain for better prices, both to purchase inputs and to sell their produce.
Yongo says “this project has changed my life. I used to get four bags of maize from this farm, this time I got nine bags. After preparing a few bags for storage and future use, I plan to sell three bags and buy more fertilizer and seeds. ,
Felgona, has had the opportunity to practice mixed farming, using her poultry droppings on her commercial vegetable farm and feeding her chicken on excess kales and seeds from her farms. She has particularly upgraded her farm and poultry shed, doing everything primarily for sale and any extra for home consumption, while closely sharing income between family and project needs. This has given her a title in Magina farmlands, Felgona and her children can now choose to eat as they prefer.
Yongo and Felgona have both made a once unimaginable change to their livelihoods: They have become an inspiration to community members and a good influence to aspiring farmers. For many RDN beneficiaries, after only eight months in the project, tangible changes in job creation and food security can be observed.