BRIEF ON FARMERS RESEARCH NETWORK PROJECT.
BRIEF ON FARMERS RESEARCH NETWORK PROJECT.
The project is funded by McKnight Foundation and targets five Counties in Western Kenya that is Kisumu, Homabay, Migori, Vihiga and Busia Counties. CREPP spearheads the projects activities implementation in Kisumu and Homabay Counties. It provides a platform through which small scale farming communities in Western region are involved in development, testing, identification and dissemination of suitable agricultural technologies with potential to increase productivity and add value to their farming production systems within an agro-ecological intensification framework. The research network brings together farmers from different socio-economic and agro-ecological zones across the region to participate in the design, implementation, analysis and communication of outcomes of diverse research activities aimed at addressing the priority challenges experienced across the region and yet come up with recommendations that are specific to the farmers’ unique socio-ecological conditions.
Food insecurity and poverty are key challenges that small scale farming communities in Western Kenya experience. Scarcity of land, water resources, declining soil productivity, pests,disease complexities, and changing climatic conditions characterize the challenging production environments in which these communities live.Lack or limited availability of recommendations on better adapted crops,pest and disease management practices, and soil fertility improvement techniques tested and selected under farmer’s unique social and agro-ecological conditions intensify the prevalence and negative impact of these challenges in many areas of Western Kenya region. The combination of these challenges limit the production of key staple cereals such as maize and sorghum which currently stands at less than two tons per hectare in the western Kenya region compared to a global average.The challenges similarly limit the productivity of beans which is the most important food legume in the country, that on average currently yield less than what is to be produced under good soils. Productivity of other important food crops and cash crops is also affected by these challenges.
PROJECT OVERALL OBJECTIVE.
To improve soil fertility, food production, nutrition and enhance gender equity among smallholder farmers in western Kenya region.
- To engage farmers in exploring efficient and innovative local ways of preparing compost manure (prepared on the farm rather than on the household compound) and biochar (specific to acidic soils).
- To explore suitable ways through which the lablab (green manure) could best be integrated into the farming system (most likely in a relay cropping system so as to avoid the camouflaging effect of lablab when inter-cropped with cereals which are normally planted during the long rain cropping season).
- Assess through collection and re-introduction of diverse traditional food crops/products into the farming system to minimize the risks brought about by climate change effects. (Cow peas, peanut, beans, mucuna and a host of traditional African leafy vegetables, sesame, local sorghum and finger millet and local maize germplasm have long been considered part and parcel of traditional food basket of the region).
- To analyze interventions chosen by farmers for the resilience of their farming system (assess possible influence of location, gender, soil test results and pest and disease prevalence)
- Assess how gender issues play out in the two research focus (soil health interventions, food production and nutrition aspects)
- To engage farmers in carrying out a cost-benefit analysis of a traditional poly-culture farming system on one hand and the input intensive mono-culture system being promoted by the industrial agriculture
- Enhance farmer to farmer learning about the experiences with the diversified polyculture farming system and the soil health interventions
- Re-evaluate 3-5 above after two seasons of research
Key Activities Of The Intervention.
1.Preparation of compost manure.
2.Establishment of trial plots sites.
3.Planting of lablab,planting of cereals
4.Soil testing of soil samples from trial plots.
5.Data collection at every phase: planting,weeding,tassling and harvesting ,common pests and diseases.
- Creating awareness among literate farmers.
- Training of field officers and farmers then disseminating the information learned to farmers.
- conduct trial results disseminations / feedback sessions
- Targeted farmers have gained knowledge on nutrients deficiencies in their soils and are working on improving their soils with the required options for increased production.
- Improved production at household level.
- Diverse production at the household level which has enhance nutrition.
- Increased skills and innovation amongst the targeted farmers on how to improve yields at their farms.
- Improved knowledge on agro ecological principles and concepts