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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

PAFID hold farmers field day at Nyakinyua

By Bob Aston
Conservation agriculture is fast emerging as an alternative farming method by many smallholder farmers. In a bid to show farmers the difference between conservation and conventional agriculture, Participatory Approaches for Integrated Development (PAFID) organized a farmer’s field day at Nyakinyua area of Kinamba Division in Laikipia County on August 27, 2014.
The field day was held at Anthony Mathenge’s farm. It provided farmers with an opportunity to learn what PAFID has been training farmers about at the demonstration farm. Also in attendance included; Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Pure Circle Kenya Ltd and Tree is Life Trust (TILT).
Farmers being shown around the demo farm
Speaking during the event, Mr. Juma Oliver from PAFID urged more farmers to adopt conservation agriculture in order to reduce production cost. He said that farmers will be able to learn what their colleagues have been doing in the demo plot. The farmers have planted using three different approaches namely; conventional, basin and reaping.

“Cost of production is on the rise. It is important for farmers to look for ways of reducing mechanical tillage and labour cost. Conservation agriculture not only reduces on cost of production but it also has a lot of benefits to farmers,” said Mr. Juma.
He urged farmers to replicate what they are taught in their farms and also to teach others so that more farmers can also adopt conservation agriculture.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, conservation agriculture is an approach to managing agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment.
It aims to achieve sustainable and profitable agriculture and subsequently aims at improved livelihoods of farmers through the application of the three conservation agriculture principles: minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotations.
Farmers being shown what has been done in the demo farm
Mr. Juma informed the farmers that conservation agriculture usually reverses the effect of soil degradation caused by mechanical tillage. He urged the farmers not to harm their soil as this will affect production.
He said that burning crop residues usually destroy important sources of plant nutrients and soil improvement potential. He said that soil under conservation agriculture have very high water infiltration capacities thus reducing surface runoff and soil erosion. This improves the quality of surface water reducing pollution from soil erosion, and enhances groundwater resources.
He urged the farmers to keep the soil covered as well as planting through the mulch in order to protect the soil and improve the growing environment for the crop.
Conservation agriculture holds tremendous potential for all sizes of farms and agro-ecological systems, but its adoption is perhaps most urgently required by smallholder farmers, especially those facing acute labour shortages. It is a way to combine profitable agricultural production with environmental concerns and sustainability.
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