Animated Social Gadget - Blogger And Wordpress Tips

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Farmers recount field day experiences

By Bob Aston
Farmer field days usually lead to mutual knowledge increase, due to practical demonstrations. They have been helpful in enhancing knowledge sharing between farmers.
A farmer field day organized by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) on August 4, 2015 at Peter Mwaniki’s farm near Sipili Catholic Church, in Ol-Moran Ward of Laikipia West Sub County is one such forum that provided farmers with an opportunity to learn about the difference between conservation and conventional agriculture.
Farmer learning about fertilizer use

Farmers were able to interact, share information, and learn best agricultural practices from each other.

An excited Samuel Nyaga narrated how he learned about BELSAP, a product exhibited by Bell Industries Ltd. The super absorbent polymer (SAP) reduces water usage by maximizing rainfall benefits and reducing frequency of irrigation schedules.
He learned that the product is important in Laikipia County, as it is an arid area. BELSAP is important in utilization of water and fertilizer to enable seedlings and crops establishment.
He managed to exchange contacts with Bell Industries Ltd official and now plans to start using the product. He reckons that as BELSAP increases water holding capacity, drainage, and aeration in soils he will no longer spend a lot of time irrigating his crops.
“I learned that BELSAP promotes root growth resulting in larger, healthier plants and faster growth. The fact that it allows plants growth in extremely hot and dry climates is also a boost due to the effect of climate change,” says Nyaga.
On her part, Margaret Mwangi has been practicing conservation agriculture for more than a year now. Use of rippers fascinates her although the cost is normally high. She expects that next season she will be able to use a ripper in her farm.
She managed to learn that ripping breaks up compacted soil layers which results into plant roots growing faster and deeper thereby increasing soil water storage as well as nutrients access.
Agriculture officer training farmers on Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease
She said that soil compaction is a problem in her farm and she intends to resolve this by using a ripper. She expects that improved drainage through use of a ripper will help mitigate the effect of climate change.
“I learned that ripping improves soil aeration which helps in breaking down organic matter and also provides plant roots with plenty of oxygen. Despite the cost, I will have to use the technology next season. I have been informed that I will be able to realize better returns,” said Mwangi.
Similarly, Esther Njeri has been using conventional agriculture but is about to embrace conservation agriculture. She noted that the former has become expensive as cost of labour is now high and at times even finding labour is difficult.
She concurs that time for embracing Climate Smart Agriculture technologies has reached. As a smallholder farmer, she believes that she will now be able to improve her maize production once she applies the knowledge acquired during the field day.
She noted that after visiting many farmers she had concluded that those who had adopted conservation agriculture received higher returns last season compared to those who used conventional agriculture.
“Last season I realized very low returns while my friends who adopted conservation agriculture managed to harvest more bags than me. Next season I will have to do better. The field day opened by eyes to the need of agribusiness,” said Esther.
Farmers being trained on PICS bag use
On his part, Johanna Kiarie was particularly impressed by Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags. PICS bag is a viable management tool for preventing aflatoxin accumulation in storage. He learned that the bags minimize cost of storage as well as reducing post-harvest grain losses.
He said that the insecticide-free, low cost method of storing cereals is an effective way of storage for most smallholder farmers.
“I was impressed by the fact that the quality of grains stored in PICS bags does not decline and grains can be stored for more than a year. I will have to buy at least five bags,” said Johanna.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, conservation agriculture is a concept of “resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits together with high and sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment.”
ALIN has been involved in knowledge sharing for more than 22 years now, using various platforms that include the use of video documentations, exchange visits, open learning days, and articles aimed at farmers and pastoralists. These experiences have helped farmers to access knowledge and information, which have helped to empower and uplift their livelihood.
Post a Comment