Kenyan woman embraces conservation farming and betters her life

| December 5, 2016

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This week’s story from Guinea focuses on the benefits of no-till farming. Our Script of the week profiles a Kenyan farmer who adopted many of the practices associated with conservation agriculture, including no-till farming.

In western Kenya, difficult climatic conditions and poor farming practices have contributed to a loss of soil and of vegetation cover. This reduces soil fertility and leads farmers to depend too much on the rains because soils are not as able to retain water. Without moisture in the soil, crops that are susceptible to dry conditions may wilt and be totally lost. But this can be corrected by introducing farming practices like conservation agriculture which, over a period of months and years, improve soil structure and increase yield.

Conservation agriculture is an approach to farming that uses specific practices to maintain the soil and other natural resources, while improving yield and food security. It includes practices such as mulching with crop and other plant residues, rotating crops, and minimally tilling the soil—and avoiding or minimizing other practices which disturb the soil surface. In western Kenya, conservation agriculture also includes using organic or green manure from locally available plants such as Tithonia.

This script presents the story of a widow who was isolated from other members of her community until she joined a farmers’ group. The group members started by growing their staple crop, maize, and were then introduced to conservation agriculture. After the widow was introduced to sustainable farming practices through the group, she diversified her farming and her livelihood and changed her life for the better.

If you want to use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on conservation agriculture in your area, talk to farmers and experts who are practicing conservation agriculture or are knowledgeable about this type of farming. You might ask them:

What are the local farming problems that conservation agriculture could address?

Have local farmers been successful with conservation agriculture?

What are the barriers to adopting minimum tillage and other conservation agriculture practices, and how can these be addressed?

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