By Gitonga Njeru in Machakos, Kenya
Increasing numbers of Kenyan farmers are venturing into ecological farming. They say the benefits are much better than conventional farming.
This is a partnership with the farmers and Greenpeace Kenya and several other organizations.
“Ecological farming brings me more income per acre as compared to the normal type of farming. For instance, I harvest about seven to eight bags of maize, green grams, and and beans combined as i do intercropping. Each bag is 90 kilograms”, says Samuel Wathome, a farmer from Matungulu in Machakos County in Eastern Kenya located an hour’s drive from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
Wathome says that with ecological farming. Use of organic fertilizers is common.
“Crop damage is minimal. For instance, use of compost manure derived from farm waste does not have any side effects.
“Conventional pesticides do damage the crop but this one you do not use any pesticides. Incase of disease in fot instance the green grams, it will not affect the other crops”, Wathome added.
With the negative effects of climate change and little adequate water, farmers are using reliable ways of storing water.
“Use of ecologocal water storage ideas is strongly encouraged. Storing rainwater for future use has never been easier.
“Cut off drain, retaining ditch, and contour style avoids floods but stores water safely the ecological way”, adds Wathome who also trains several farmers in the community level.
“I also feel healthy as i do not have to eat food that has several chemicals from pesticides. You also feel good as you do not damage the soil and you maintain the ecosystem. Making your next planting session and further increasing productivity”, Wathome added.
Greenpeace Kenya, a part of Greenpeace international are some of the partner organizations that have been helping farmers reap the benefits of ecological farming.
“Ecological farming is helping farmers who practice it. They are selling their produce in bulk. That has increased their household income. Farmers form self help groups that they can access credit within themselves to grow their income further”, says Iris Maertens, Interim Communication officer at Greenpeace Kenya.
Wathome says that obstacles do exist in ecological farming.
“The cost of production is high including the labor intensivity. The amount of agricultural land continues to decrease. National and County governments rarely fund ecological farmers. They focus more on conventional farming”, he added.
Overal, he says the benefits outweigh the challenges.