ISSUE 20 April-June 2022
Organic farming as a way of enhancing sustainability
Sikkim is 100% organic.What are the lessons?
Farming in the Caribbean island
Can we feed 47 million people organically?
pg 44 Image: morgansrock.com
Executive Editor Ruth Ndegwa
Managing Editors Ernest Chitechi, Kennedy Ouma
Writers Frank Ojwang, Brian King’ori, Josphat Nyagei, Pamela Okutoyi, Vincent Kipyegon, Cindy Eman, Christine Gatwiri, Grace Kinyanjui, Abdalla Wato, Millicent Abillah, Dorah Kwamboka, Miriam Kariuki, Beth Odhil, Vida Insights, Marion Makunyo, Grace Ouma, Annancieta Mwololo,
Photography KCIC Consulting Ltd and other sources
Layout Levi Wanakacha and Brian Alili Image: courtesy
Editorial Organic, anyone? Dear reader, I’m always intrigued by how many people do not understand what organic means. I have heard people say they think it is just a marketing term, a way to get more money. It is possible, or somewhat likely, that some retailers and farmers got into growing and selling organic products for that reason…to make better profits. That happens because customers are asking for it. I mean, that is how capitalism is supposed to work, right? You produce what the market demands. I don’t think that is a bad thing. This shows the power that everyday people (or Consumers) have. That is not at the heart of what organic means. Before organic farming started, or rather I should say, when people farmed UNorganically – using synthetic, chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides produced from chemicals that were no longer
needed for war – there was a group of farmers, gardeners, scientists, and regular people who just happened to eat each day which said: “Wait, a minute! What are the effects of these farming methods?” Although they understood way less than we do now what was happening in the soil, they knew that the health of the soil and the creatures that lived there were somehow important. So, what was the catchphrase for practicing organic farming? Healthy Soils = Healthy Crops = Healthy and Happy People (plus other animals). Organic farming was (and is) all about creating and maintaining healthy farm ecosystems in the soil and everything that’s happening above the soil. Maybe you’ve come across those charts that show how nutrients in our foods have been reduced. What
does this mean? We need to eat more food to get the same amount of nutrients as our grandparents and great-grandparents. (I’m talking about whole foods, not more chips and soft drinks). If you wonder where the nutrients in foods come from, picture this. The soil web of life. We add specific nutrients (fertilizers) to the soil to grow a lettuce head to a nice big and nutritious lettuce head.
This issue of our magazine is stretching out to help you understand the concept of organic farming and how it can enhance sustainability. Our authors invite you into their own personal experiences and share stories of individuals to inspire, educate, and spread the gospel on organic farming. So, join us to explore the importance of organic farming, sustainability, and the future generation. I believe all the organizations and stories featured within this issue represent the immense scale of what is possible to achieve when farming organically in this decade.
What’s the concern? Inorganic fertilizers take away the life in the soil (all sorts of creatures doing all kinds of stuff that make a nutrientrich environment). The soil is left with Grab a drink and sit around longer for only the nutrients needed to make some inspiration! that lettuce head look like a nice big healthy lettuce head. All other valuable nutrients are lost. I bet we are on the same page now.
Enjoy the read! Pamela Okutoyi
Editor and Sustainability Communication expert email@example.com
Decolonizing agriculture By Frank Ojwang
Agriculture for long was the primary and main economic activity of Kenyans in several households. Animal and crop farming empowered families economically and provided the households with nutritious food and income. In the early 1900s, missionaries introduced education and Christianity in central and Western Kenyan regions as the Muslim religion dominated the coastal areas. This was the birth of economic doom. The education system promoted education as an avenue for whitecollar jobs and better economic opportunities, creating a nuanced
perception of white-collar jobs being dignifying and farming being primitive and backward. At independence in the 1960s, only a handful of Kenyans had received formal education. They were considered the elite of the society, a position, and fete that every post-Independence generation aspired to achieve. The decline of Agriculture in Kenya As more and more children of postindependent Kenya accessed education, they started to migrate to urban areas searching for jobs. The jobs were readily available even for
students who had completed primary education. This inspired every family to send their children to school and gradually increased the number of young adults interested in urban jobs.
organic crop farming. We abandoned our nutritious crops that would have rather ecologically protected the environment. The result is climate change.
In the 1990s, more children accessed education; hence more migrated to urban areas. The most significant fraction of the land was left in the hands of aging parents. With traditional low-yield farming methods, subsistence farming was the only option. The agricultural workforce was reduced. Yields declined.
The government has a complex long-term strategy to turn around the attitudes and perceptions of future generations to adopt agriculture as the default economic activity. Civil societies and faith-based organizations are challenged too. Support the reversal of migration trends from rural-urban to an extended stay in the rural areas. More young people should be encouraged to pursue agriculture as a default economic activity for every household.
While the younger adults could have adopted better farming methods to increase farm yields, they pursued unavailable ‘dignified’ jobs in the urban areas. This birthed the phase that would result in generational poverty and unemployed city residents that left farmlands that could have empowered them economically. Going back to our roots As the years advanced, no attempts were made to deconstruct the puzzle of rural-urban migration. Its impacts include continued decline of agricultural production, increased unemployment, hidden hunger, loss of
The perceptions of farming as oldfashioned and the shame associated with agriculture need to be eliminated. This is the first step toward restoring the factory settings of Kenyan economic activities. In addition, it will set the next generations on the 100year plan to make agriculture great again, promote organic crop farming, combat climate change, eliminate food insecurity and increase the economic empowerment of the future generations.
Frank Ojwang is a doctoral researcher focused on agribusiness and innovation across Sub Saharan Africa. firstname.lastname@example.org
Is organic farming the magic for achieving sustainability? By Brian King’ori
With the daily rise in population, scientists are developing ways of producing more food. They are inventing synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. These products save on time and labor compared to the organic methods. But did they really have the future in mind? My answer is NO. Our forefathers did it right, the natural way, and that was the best way.
Organic farming is a term that well describes a practice where synthetic fertilizers are replaced with animal manures, ashes, green manure, and nitrogen-fixing plants (legumes). On the other hand, inorganic pesticides are replaced with mixtures formed from plant extracts with pest repelling properties, like the Mexican Marigold, herbs, Eucalyptus, and garlic.
We are all witnesses to the harmful effects of conventional farming (inorganic farming). Our soils are dying. I can’t really recall the last time I saw an earthworm? Farmers are cutting down trees to give space for more farmland to feed everyone. Very few care how the next generation will be affected by the poor farming practices. Not only does organic farming aid in the production of healthy foods, but it also does that sustainably without affecting the environment. The soil is well taken care of and there is a presence of living organisms in it. Trees play a huge role in the environment. Organic farming supports agroforestry, which means maintaining a safe water table level. This is vital as rising water tables can create saline soils
that can’t support plant life.
those who totally depend on rainfall.
Again on the issue of sustainability, this type of farming does not participate in carbon emissions. The best part is that it removes a significant amount of carbon from the environment. This sounds so good, as carbon emission today poses enormous threats to human life. CO2 emissions are victims of the current climatic changes, which significantly affect farmers, especially
Organic farming ensures that trees and other perennial crops are intercropped or rotated, with the short-term crops that take 3-4 months to mature, especially in horticulture farming. The bottom line here is that organic farming is the magic portion when it comes to making sure that sustainability is achieved.
Brian King’ori is a freelance writer
Sikkim is 100% organic. What are the lessons? By Josphat Nyagei Mokaya
Recently, Sikkim state celebrated its
state. Had agriculture been a center
6th anniversary as a fully organic state. subject, they would not have been Sikkim made a mark globally with this achievement. It was the first time any government anywhere globally had attempted and successfully achieved 100% organic status. Following the conversion into an organic state, Sikkim was awarded the One World Award (Grand Prix) by IFOAMOrganics and Rapunzel in 2017 and the Future Policy Gold Award by the esteemed Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2018. There are many lessons to learn from Sikkim. To achieve this ambitious goal, the government first adopted the resolution in the Legislative Assembly in 2003. Agriculture is a state subject, so they instituted a state policy to convert Sikkim into a fully organic
able to pursue this mission. They formulated the organic policy and set up the necessary system to do what no other state had yet dared to do. Today, the approach has been lauded by the central government and organizations across the globe. India is also the country with the most considerable output of organic products globally, and Sikkim is a big reason behind this achievement. Humanity has lived through several revolutions which have changed the way we interact with nature. From the industrial revolution to the digital revolution, we have seen the world become more efficient and productive. However, efficiency and productivity at the cost of our environment are dangerous and short-
sighted. Without organic revolution,
I congratulate the people of Sikkim for
however, all other revolutions
achieving this grand feat of becoming
are incomplete. Productivity and
the first 100% organic state in the
protection of the environment must go world. I know how difficult it was and hand in hand.
how much perseverance and hard
Organic Sikkim is an asset not just for Sikkimese people but for the entire global community. It inspires the world, showing that 100% organic is not just a distant dream: it is achievable.
work it took to make organic Sikkim possible. It took the contributions and dedication of thousands of farmers, officers, resource persons, and many more. I urge us and all governments to follow the example of Sikkim.
Josephat is an experienced Agribusinessman with particular interest in food security and value addition. Email: email@example.com
Banana flour: Tharaka Nithi women’s novel idea to escape poverty By Pamela Okutoyi
Banana farmers across the country
Beyond, says traditionally, farmers’
have endured many years of
obsession with certain crops has
frustration arising from a lack of
worked against them, as evidenced
market, pests, diseases, and low
in the current market oversupply. She
productivity. In seasons of high
says farmers would produce the same
productivity, many bananas
crop simultaneously, which would be
sometimes go for as low as Shs 1,000,
harvested simultaneously and taken to
to the disappointment of farmers who
the same market, yielding low prices.
invest a lot in fertilizers and labor. A Tharaka Nithi farmer has found
yielding tissue culture banana farmers
a lifeline in adding value to the
who have traditionally counted losses
harvested banana produce. The
after the market burst due to an
venture has not only increased the
oversupply,” Rose says.
product’s shelf life but has tripled earnings from the crop. Jane Rose, director of Above and
“Such has been the case with the high
Rose is now weathering the oversupply with value-added end products like banana flour and crisps
through her enterprise, Above and
Once we get the KEBs certification,
Beyond, earning farmers more than
our products will penetrate
triple the raw product. In addition,
supermarkets and other retail shops.
Rose says she engages other farmers to dry tuber crops and process them into more healthy and nutritious products.
Her future plan for the group is to make an even more significant value addition by mechanizing the process. “To impact more farmers and
“While a single bunch of bananas
livelihoods in the area, I hope that
would yield a maximum of Sh600,
through the AgriBiz program, Above
selling them in sachet crisps, where
and Beyond will be able to scale its
one banana makes one sachet, the
production by purchasing a dryer and
same bunch can make up to Sh2000.
In addition, crisps have a shelf-life of more than three months, unlike the banana, which cannot last for more than two weeks,” she says.
In addition to banana flour, the group also processes the flours from cassava, pumpkin, and crisps from arrowroots. All these crops, Rose says, are sourced
Though bananas are available round
from other farmers in the locality. The
the year, readymade flour is easier
venture has provided permanent
to use. As the bananas used are
employment for two women and one
generally grown at home, they are
gentleman who runs the facility.
usually grown without pesticides and chemicals. Hence, the flour is also chemical-free.
“It is an interesting time to be a smart farmer in Kenya. The enterprising farmer notes that the appetite for
She says making banana flour involves
value-added products locally and the
cleaning the raw materials before
opening up of regional markets are
being cut into small chips, later taken
working in our favor,” the enterprising
for drying. The drying takes three to
four days before the bananas are taken to the milling machines to make flour.
Organic flours help prevent and alleviate several diseases such as blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes.
The processing and packaging are
In addition, it can easily replace
done manually at the company. It is
refined flour. Its health benefits have
later packaged and sold to health-
made it famous across the country.
conscious individuals in the area. Email: pamela firstname.lastname@example.org
Seeking a business opportunity? Try ‘Kienyeji’ farming By Vincent Kipyegon
Modern farming forms seek to
is a critical component in organic
increase crop yield by implementing
farming that substitutes synthetic
farm practices that can decimate
fertilizers and is friendly to the soil
the environment. Additionally, these
methods require maximum input to deliver maximum output. The use of synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides further creates harmful effects on the farm, destroying the soil microorganisms and pollinators, causing soil acidity, and depleting soil nutrients.
Traditional vegetables, commonly referred to as kienyeji, are edible crops from the brassica vegetable family that grow naturally; they are not hybrid but rather occur naturally in farm fields or seeds propagated from existing plants. They include Africa Nightshade (managu),Sargeti,
Organic farming ensures that all farm
Amaranth (Terere) e.t.c. The high
variables coexist and benefit mutually.
nutritional content in Kienyeji food
It allows a farmer to use minimum farm
crops has made them a highly viable
input and deliver high output. Manure
food source. Focusing on these plants
can enhance income for producers
play an essential role in weight loss
and health benefits for consumers.
Kienyeji plays a significant role as
Traditional vegetables are adaptive
food for people, livestock food, pests
and resilient to unpredictable weather
repellent crops for other crops, soil
patterns. They are drought-resistant
conservation, and drought-resistant
and can withstand dry seasons
crops with essential health benefits.
with low water during dry seasons.
However, its cultivation requires
Moreover, they grow faster during the
continuous weeding to avoid nutrient
deficiency from weeds.
Kienyeji crops require minimum space
The high demand for fresh kienyeji
to grow. Kitchen gardens and storey
food sources has made it a viable
gardens are ideal for growing these
agribusiness practice with great
crops. Besides that, the crops mature
income returns for smallholder
over 2-3 months, thus increasing food
farmers. Growing these crops requires
minimum input. Using organic manure instead of fertilizers and seeds can be propagated from existing plants. The crops are tolerant of pests and diseases. These factors make it a sustainable farming model beneficial for the soil ecosystem and the farmers. They are highly nutritious. Rich in essential proteins, zinc, calcium, Vitamins B, C, and E and have rich dietary fiber. Besides its high nutritional value, kienyeji crops also promote good health; Managu, for instance, is useful for managing hypertension and diabetes. All kienyeji foods
Dorcas Rutto, a crop expert, explains that traditional crops are resistant to pests and diseases depending on the environment. “During dry spells, these crops repel pests by producing an irritating scent and bitter sap that keep leaf miners at bay during rainy periods.” Traditional vegetables are ideal for boosting income for the smallholder farmers with minimum cost input, labor, and space while providing essential health benefits to the consumers.
Vincent Kipyegon is an Agri-technology journalist Email: email@example.com
Farming in the Caribbean island By Cindy Eman
“Eating local” has become a popular
depend on outside food resources
dining ethos over the last decade, but
even in the best times. Just off the
in some locations, it’s not as simple
coast of South America, Curaçao
as it sounds. Islands in the Caribbean
is one of the former Dutch Antilles
in particular have struggled with
and imports most of its dairy and
sustainability due to a multitude of
meat produce. In 2020, there was an
factors, including inhospitable farming
embargo between Venezuela and
conditions, the increasingly extreme
the islands. You could immediately tell
effects of climate change and
a shift in the supermarkets’ produce.
damage from tropical storms.
In March of the same year, the island
Living on a small island state in the
was under total lockdown due to
Caribbean and a semi-arid one, we
the pandemic. With almost no flights
arriving on the island, there was a
Forest is our pride and joy, from barren
direct impact on the availability of
land to a lush forest that provides us
fresh produce for the locals. The
with a weekly bounty.
agriculture and tourism sectors were greatly affected. And this is predicted to reoccur with the current climatic trends that are far worse than the COVID-19 pandemic.
We handed out more than 700 well-filled bags of fresh produce to our neighbors for the first year. 25 family households followed organic gardening courses to have their
In the neighborhood of Ser’i
own mini-gardens at home, giving
Otrobanda, part of the island’s
households the means to be self-
Unesco World Heritage urban capital,
reliant and maybe even grow enough
the long-term solution seemed
obvious: start producing our own organic greens! With the help of some generous sponsors and the combined knowledge of a few experts, we started doing just that.
Circular organic agriculture is also part of the program, making a case for sustainability. The project has equipped young people with entrepreneurial skills and provided
Together with the neighbors, we
them with a steady income. Local
prepared three different plots for
restaurants and hotels have also
different types of urban community
been provided with a farm-to-table
farming, and now, almost two
alternative. Above all, the initiative
years later, it has grown to 5 plots.
creates the possibility to trade
Currently working in Kenya, Roland
knowledge, services, and products
van Reenen designed our food
without money being involved. It is
forest and introduced us to syntropic
exciting to see where we will be in
agroforestry. The Ferdinand Food
Are communities the key to mass adoption of organic farming? By Christine Gatwiri
A white powdery substance
a heated discussion. Someone
appeared on the leaves of my
suggested I visit an agrovet and
bucket-grown kale. I took a picture,
buy pesticides. It was interjected by
uploaded it to a farming group, and
asked, “Hey, what is wrong with my kale?”
practicing organic farming.’”
Within minutes I got responses:
“This is a powdery mildew fungus
The farming group is called Sacks
disease. Remedy mix milk and water
and Containers Gardening Tips on
spray during a sunny day.”
Facebook. It is a peer-led community
“Apply more water.” “Spray neem oil + baking powder.” One response, in particular, raised
“Remember we are advocating and
of people who grow in small spaces. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of farming groups on the site in Kenya alone.
Online farming communities have
agro-input dealers to advise and
everyone from someone like me who
recommend farm inputs. Alternative
cultivates in containers to people
sources of farming advice are
with large acres of land. Some
particularly crucial for small-scale
communities are more niche, e.g.,
mulberry or watermelon growers. While not all focus on organic farming, members get farming tips, ask questions, and source markets for their products across all such communities.
Small-scale farmers are responsible for about 70% of agricultural production in Kenya. Commercial farm inputs are expensive to access and apply within recommended guidelines for
When the micro-level farmers on
these farmers. Consequently, curating
Sacks and Containers Gardening
organic farming knowledge, skills,
Tips set out to farm, organic farming
and best practices in communities
is not a goal, but a means to an
ensure ease of sharing, adoption, and
end - it is accessible and affordable.
This is made possible by hundreds of thousands of community members willing to share hacks, tips, and information.
Communities - online or offline – provide an organic reach (excuse the pun) to the individual. Group psychology through informational
In easy-to-understand language,
social influence, for example, works
you learn the benefits of introducing
in favor of knowledge sharing. They
rosemary, onions, or garlic to your
promote a sense of belongingness
spinach crop (biological pest
as members offer mutual support to
control). Or how to re-use banana
ensure adherence to group norms
peels and eggshells to provide
potassium and calcium to crops. This way, communities eliminate a pivotal barrier to organic farming – knowledge.
Communities build inherent social trust. Word of mouth and social proof motivate others to take up action. For example, when a member shares
Communities dedicated to organic
a picture or story of their organic
farming have become an alternative
produce, others are inspired to try it.
source of knowledge and information.
This way, communities exchange, and
Typically, farmers rely on other farmers, market ideas, even complex ones like agricultural extension services, and
organic farming and sustainability.
Christine Gatwiri is a technology and community writer and qualitative researcher. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, you can farm tomatoes without chemicals By Grace Kinyanjui
Tomatoes are among the most
and late blight, powdery mildew,
popular and widely produced
and viral infections. Because of this,
vegetables in Kenya. Successful
tomato farmers invest heavily in
production of this high-value
agrochemicals, including pesticides
vegetable provides high income
and synthetic fertilizers, to protect the
to smallholder farmers and has
crop and improve production.
dramatically improved several livelihoods.
Although helpful in reducing crop damage, chemical pesticides only
However, tomato farming is also a
provide a short-term solution to
highly demanding task because of
control pests and diseases. Moreover,
the frequent occurrence of pests
because of the numerous challenges,
and diseases and the consequent
farmers have resorted to a calendar-
reduction of the crop’s productivity
based application system of broad-
and profitability. The notorious
problems include whiteflies, leafminers, Tuta absoluta, thrips, spider mites, and fruit worms.
A recent analysis of pesticide residues on tomatoes produced in Kenya revealed that some commonly
The major tomato diseases are
used chemicals are highly toxic and
bacterial and Fusarium wilt, early
have potential chronic health and
environmental effects. Besides, most
4. Use of commercially available
pesticide concentrations exceed the
copper-based and Sulphur
acceptable maximum residue level.
pesticides to control the significant
Organic tomato farming presents a promising alternative to chemical pesticides. It encourages the production of safe and healthy tomatoes through organic and ecologically sustainable agricultural systems. The first step towards organic tomato production is the management of
tomato diseases. 5. Proper weed control. 6. Intercropping tomato with insectrepellent crops, e.g., garlic, onions, and basil. 7. Embrace natural enemies to control insect pests such as predators and parasitic wasps.
soil fertility for better crop nutrition.
8. Adopting companion planting to
Rich organic soils are achieved by
foster biodiversity and ecological
the addition of animal manure and
balance of pests and their natural
Instead of frequent pesticide
9. Tomato crop rotation with
applications, farmers are encouraged
unrelated crops like legumes,
to adopt good agricultural practices
cereals, and brassicas.
to prevent or reduce incidences of pests and diseases. These include: 1. Transplanting of pest-free seedlings 2. Regular crop monitoring to detect early infestations and promote prompt control. 3. Use of commercial and homemade organic pesticides to control severe infestations. Examples include soap sprays, wood ash, flour preparations, neem extracts, onion,
A calculated integration of these practices will yield huge agronomic benefits such as enhanced soil fertility, reduced crop damages, and increased tomato yields and farmers’ income. An organic tomato farming approach will also reduce the overdependence on chemical pesticides and contribute to enhanced human and environmental health.
garlic, and chili pepper. Grace Kinyanjui is a PhD student pursuing a degree in applied entomology. Email: email@example.com
The three R’s of organic farming By Abdalla Wato
Thanks to organic farming, natural
as peelings of tomatoes, potatoes,
resources are utilized responsibly.
onions, pineapples, bananas, and
A farmer in Wundanyi, Taita Taveta County, utilizes the three Rs of reducing, reusing, and recycling to practice organic farming. The farmer uses ground rock dust from sulfatecontaining rocks as fertilizer to grow his tomatoes and other vegetables. The rock dust adds trace minerals and micro-nutrients to the soil and feeds the beneficial microbes that live in the ground. This best explains ‘reducing’
other vegetables and fruits, to make compost manure. These plant products add various essential micronutrients to the soil. A close relation to this is the use of bone meal fertilizer. The Bone meal is a mixture of finely and coarsely ground animal bones and slaughterhouse waste products. The fertilizer is rich in phosphorus and calcium. Animal bones are recycled to make
as a practice since the farmer reduces fertilizer. Bone meal can also feed the application of artificial fertilizers,
monogastric animals and is usually rich
which could harm our environment
in phosphorus and protein.
when used in excess. Too much nitrogenous fertilizer leads
incorporates management activities
to the release of harmful greenhouse
that ensure the conservation of soil,
gasses into the atmosphere.
water, air and control of climate
Asides from that, it leads to the
change and biodiversity. Soil building
eutrophication of our waterways. The
practices such as crop rotations,
application of mulch best explains
inter-cropping, cover crops, organic
reusing as a practice. The dry plant
fertilizers, and minimum tillage are
matter is not discarded but put into
central to organic practices. These
use to help conserve soil moisture
practices improve soil formation
for the still-thriving crops or prevent
and structure. In turn, the nutrients
soil erosion, which would affect the
and retentive abilities of the soil
are enhanced. Soil erosion is also
Recycling comes in handy when the farmer uses kitchen refuse, such
In summary, Organic farming
controlled. Groundwater pollution is inhibited by
minimum usage or the elimination
manure contributes to mitigating
of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
the greenhouse effect and global
The application of mulch and cover
warming. The hidden costs of
crops conserves water. The use of
agriculture to the environment
organic manure such as compost
regarding natural resource
manure, rock dust, and animal
degradation are reduced.
Abdalla Wato is public health student at South Eastern Kenya University, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Homabay based enterprise making inroads in organic farming By Millicent Abillah
Our airwaves are filled every day with
maintaining a sustainable planet for
news of extreme weather phenomena its future generation. The answer lies worldwide, from historic floods to
in a multi-level integrated approach
fires, earthquakes, droughts, etc.
to sustainable living that involves
These climate crises are the effects of
everyone, from the individual to the
decades of man-made abuse of the
local, regional, national government,
earth. Our planet is a victim, and the
only way to right the ship and save the planet for future generations is to radically change our current patterns of doing and being.
against this backdrop of creating inclusive economic growth, food security, and protecting the planet.
In 2015, the United Nations adopted
Our mission is to chart a new path
the Sustainable Development Goals
for smallholder farmers in West
(SDGs), also known as Global Goals,
Kanyada, Homabay County, to adopt
as a universal call to action to end
transparent and environmentally
poverty, protect the planet and
friendly organic farming practices.
ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy
Founded ten years ago by a Kenyan
peace and prosperity.
farmer and entrepreneur, Ms. Millicent
Today, Africa must confront how to create food security and nutrition for its 1 billion+ population while
Seven Fields Enterprises was birthed
Abillah, Seven Fields Enterprises has continued to be a champion of organic farming.
To us, organic farming means that
environment fresh and clean, which
communities eat better and stay
reduces airborne disease. I can attest
healthier. The overall community
to the many wild plants on our farms
health index goes up, life expectancy
like Aloe Vera (medicinal). Imagine
increases, national productivity goes
picking the much sought-after Aloe
up, and all of these benefits come
Vera from the fields in its natural state
with no harm to our planet.
for wound healing, picking cherry
At Seven Fields Enterprises, we believe that organic farming has to be at the forefront of the global campaign to end poverty and protect the planet. We have, therefore, created a market for the local farmers to sell their products at better prices and improve their livelihoods. We have made a tremendous social impact on many rural families that rely on farming as their primary source of income.
tomatoes for your next meal, or that fresh mango under a tree.
Other benefits of organic farming include: 1. Healthier working conditions for the farmers(no harmful chemicals or pesticides) 2. Healthier human life and better living for everyone 3. Natural manure-this include green
Organic farming respects the entire
manure, animal manure, and cover
value chain of food production
by using natural farming methods from land preparation, planting to harvesting. This means that our produce is naturally grown, healthier,
4. Crop rotation- helps in retaining soil fertility. More vital yields equate to more food.
tastes better, has more nutritional
A report produced jointly by the
value, and is not genetically modified.
Economic Commission for Africa
Moreover, organic farming helps
(ECA), the African Union (AU), the
reduce greenhouse gas emissions and
African Development Bank (AfDB),
enhances soil moisture retention giving and the United Nations Development rise to higher crop yields with minimum
Programme (UNDP) asserts that
while many African countries have
With this type of farming, flora and fauna can thrive, making the
made cursory progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, much more needs to be done.
Millicent Abilah is the CEO of Seven Fields Enterprises. Email: email@example.com
iPoP Africa sows real seeds for healthy snacking By Dorah Kwamboka
could not even read some of the ingredients on the snack labels, let alone pronounce them. Remember, we are food nutrition professionals. An incredibly misleading vitamins section, and hell yes, tracking those calories, protein, and fat takes the fun out of snacking. I was haunted by the words of the
My peers and I, like 78% of Kenyans, enjoy snacking. But every time we snacked, my friends, unlike me, who is naturally petite, worried about weight gain. We all know the social insecurities of weight gain, including the risk factors for non-communicable diseases. So my friends promised to stick to an exercise regime. Of course, which they did not adhere to. Does this sound familiar? Feeling guilty, we decided to cut down on snacking. We started to study snack labels. Unfortunately, most brands did not tell us how highly processed the snacks were. We
Burkina Faso revolutionary Leader on Food Sovereignty. Indeed some of the ingredients in the snacks travel hundreds of miles as we do when we choose to go on vacation. The highly processed snacks fuel the triple burden of diseases and malnutrition. The food and carbon miles only aggravate the climate injustices that Africa is already facing. These thoughts revived my lost childhood love for my granny’s delicious porridge and ugali, which came in shades of brown. I had sat at her dinner table several times. But tonight, in retrospect, I realized her dinner table was missing out on those delicacies. She, too, was becoming modernized.
Today, Millenials do not enjoy sorghum white sorghum), and brown rice. We millet or amaranth in the form of ugali
pride ourselves in a short ingredient
and porridge. They barely know these
list that you can easily pronounce,
grains, and those who know them
100% plant-based ingredients sourced
consider them food for the poor.
among farmers locally in Kenya.
It is against this backdrop that iPoP
We have also started a one snack,
Africa, an agribusiness startup, was
one tree initiative, whereby we plant a
founded. The enterprise is reclaiming
tree every time you snack with us. Our
the sovereignty of these climate-smart
goal is to turn every snacking moment
grains. It transforms the grains into
into an act of mitigating and adapting
modern snack products that enable
to climate change. At the same time,
our consumers to enjoy snacking
we are promoting sustainable and
without compromising affordability,
resilient food systems and improving
convenience, fashion-ability, and
a smallholder farmer’s income in the
health and nutrition gains.
indigenous grains value chain.
At iPoP Africa, you will find all kinds
Join iPoP Africa today as we endeavor
of popped grains snacks, from yellow
to snack on what we can control.
indigenous maize, millet (Pearl and
Snack Africa, Snack Greener, and
finger millet), sorghum (The red and
Healthier and Snack Guilt-Free!
Dorah Kwamboka is Food Scientist and Nutritionist Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mushroom Farming: Graduate reaping the fruits of fungi culture By Pamela Okutoyi
Mushrooms, an ancient delicacy,
This, however, did not come easy
were traditionally picked from the
for her. She says she developed an
wild, and farmers did not grow them
interest in mushroom farming while
commercially. Today, mushroom
pursuing her degree in Horticulture
farming is a popular job source of
at Jomo Kenyatta University of
income for many young people
Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
worldwide. Armed with skills and knowledge,
mushroom center to learn how
24-year-old, Catherine Wanjiku,
mushrooms are grown. As a result, I
prepares mushroom farms, plants
developed an interest, and I did a
them, harvests, and packs them for
lot of online research to equip myself
sale. She also educates farmers on the
better,” Catherine says.
techniques of growing mushrooms.
“At campus, I used to pass by the
After completing her studies at
The enterprising farmer says she
JKUAT, Catherine secured formal
chose button mushroom production
employment to start her career. While
because it has the highest demand,
working, she enrolled in a short course
with Kenya importing up to 80,000
at Miramar International College at
tonnes to satisfy its tourist industry.
Kikuyu, where Mushroom farming
However, she is keen to point out
was taught. The course spiked her
that the button mushroom variety
interest in mushroom farming. She
is complicated to grow and thus
later quit employment to venture into
makes farmers shun away. However,
agriculture, and she has never looked
with the know-how, this variety pays
handsomely as the market is not
“It has been a tough and exciting farming journey. Every day is a learning process to perfect my craft, so I can produce more volumes,”
flooded and offers competitive prices. “Before venturing into button farming, I did a market survey and discovered that the button variety has high returns, and very few farmers in the country are cultivating it. So I saw this as a great opportunity,” she says.
says the soft-spoken Catherine.
According to the National Farmers
With savings from her previous
Information Service (NAFIS), Kenya
employment, she started her button mushroom business in a 5 by 8 feet structure which she has since upgraded to an 8 by 10 feet. She proudly operates her farm, Seta Farm, located in Mutuini village, Murang’a
produces 500 tonnes of mushrooms per year, of which 476 tons are button mushrooms, against an annual demand of 1200 tonnes. This means there is a high demand for the crop. A kilogram of mushroom is priced at
County. She harvests approximately
between Sh400 and Sh600.
800 kgs of button mushrooms from her
Mushroom farming in Kenya has
farm every month. “I have two mushroom growing houses, and I produce about 800kilograms per month that I sell mainly in Nairobi. So I can assure you the demand is high,” she says.
gained popularity as a more healthconscious generation embraces consuming this diet. Mushroom delicacy is rich in proteins, fiber, potassium, vitamin C, Selenium, and many more that help in boosting the body’s immune system.
Besides growing Mushrooms,
wheat straw or any other substrate
Catherine trains self-help groups and
made up of agricultural waste.
farmers at a fee. Gekeno Women
Almost anything cultivated on land
Group is one of the groups she
is a potential substrate for mushroom
teaches mushroom cultivation.
cultivation. You can use wheat straw,
Catherine advises mushroom farmers to construct a grass-thatched mud house for growing their mushrooms. An 8 by 10 feet structure is good enough. The house should be rodentproof to keep off rats and initially dark before introducing some light later.
rice, banana and coconut waste, maize cobs, sawdust, and water hyacinth. Catherine explains that anything from the legume family, such as bean waste, is also great because of the nitrogen content,” Catherine explains.
For mushrooms that require humid
In the future, through the AgriBiz
conditions to thrive, farmers need to
program, the prosperous farmer hopes
sprinkle water in the room daily.
to expand her farm and increase her
“In growing mushrooms, first a farmer needs to have the substrates of composting which I call hay; this is the
button mushroom production. She is also thinking of venturing into other types of mushrooms like oyster and shiitake mushrooms.
Pamela Okutoyi is a development communications professional specializing in sustainability and climate change. Email: pamela email@example.com
Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) is one of the largest innovation centres in Africa supporting innovative climate change solutions and sustainable development. KCIC supports Small and Medium Enterprises through provision of business support, financing and access to information while also providing strategic direction on matters of policy, advocacy and sustainable development. To achieve its objective KCIC has two other subsidiaries namely; KCIC Consulting Limited (KCL) and Kenya Climate Ventures (KCV). Through the two entities, we support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through technical support and financing. We offer consulting services to government institutions, international organizations, corporations, SMEs, national and international NGOs, among others.
Over the past 10 years, as a strategic partner in climate change innovations, our impact on society is significant as illustrated below
Carbon Dioxide Mitigated by supporting key innovations across the climate change space
Green capital mobilized from financial institutions, donors, and other investors to support SMEs.
Incubated and supported in the sectors of agribusiness, renewable energy, commercial forestry, water management and waste management.
Indirectly impacted through clients interactions.
Created within a period of 10 years across the country.
Revenues generated by supported companies.
Current Openings Job opportunities: www.kcicconsulting.com/careers/ Call for mentors: www.kcicconsulting.com/careers/call-for-mentors/ Call for freelance consultants: www.kcicconsulting.com/careers/freelance-consultants/
Follow us on: www.kenyacic.org
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF DENMARK 'DQLGD
KCIC impact in pictorials
International Forests Day event at Machakos people’s park tree planting session by Machakos BIH Officials
Garden Mushroom founder explaining how they make their fertilizer.
An AgriBiz client showcasing her improved farming technique during the Meru BIH Launch event
Co-founder of Multi- organic fertilizer exhibiting her products at the youth innovation week, Kiambu County
Lucy Mwanza, an employee of Windsor Farm showcasing tree seedlings at the Machakos People’s Park
Machakos residents picking seeds for planting in their nurseries during the International Forests Day event at the Machakos People’s Park
AgriBiz clients showcasing their products to KCIC Officials and The program donors during the launch of the Uasin Gishu business incubation hub
KCIC Officials and The program donors cutting the ribbon to officiate the launch of Bungoma BIH
AgriBiz client exhibiting her products in the Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Week happening at JKUAT Industrial Park
Uasin Gishu BIH Launch exhibitions from AgriBiz clients
Organic farming, sustainability and the next generation By Miriam Kariuki
The term organic farming may be
some of which have been
novel, but the practice is ancient.
documented, leading to banning
Historically, farming did not involve
the use of the identified hazardous
inorganic inputs such as chemical
fertilizers and pesticides in farming.
fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
The accumulation of synthetic
Fast forward to today, farming to
chemicals in soil contributes to
a vast extent involves the use of
chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and
Chemicals contribute to toxicity in the
herbicides, some of which are a
ground from overuse. With time, the
byproduct of the fossil fuel industry.
soil structure also weakens, resulting
Research has evidenced that applying these artificial and chemical inputs into farming has been detrimental to both humans and the environment. The synthetic chemicals accumulate in the soil, on the foliage, on fruits of the crops and are later
in soil erosion. In addition, residue from chemical applications in farms is often washed off into streams, rivers, oceans, and boreholes. This residue contaminates these water sources, leading to illness and death in livestock and humans.
consumed by humans and animals
Organic farming, on the other hand,
post-harvest as chemical residue
promotes sustainability. It incorporates
remains on harvested crops. This results naturally occurring inputs such as in adverse health consequences,
compost manure from animal and
plant waste to enrich soils for crop
In fact, Organic farming supports
growth. The practice also integrates
and aligns with the Sustainable
plants with herbal properties to repel
Development Goals (SDGs).
pests, insects and control disease.
Wholesome and healthy foods mean
The detriment of inorganic farming is so evident that consumers are now demanding organic produce and their corresponding labeling to ensure that they can identify and purchase that which is organically farmed. Recent reports indicate the tremendous growth in the demand for organic farm products, a signal to farmers to transition to organic farming to meet this demand. Evidence and trends show that the current inorganic farming methods do not promote sustainability due to the various adverse effects on health and nature for current and future generations.
better health, as espoused under SDG 3 (Target 3.9). The target champions Good health and Well-being by reducing diseases and death from hazardous chemicals and pollution (in air, water, and soil). Organic farming supports SDG 14- Life below Water -by reducing and eliminating the application of synthetic fertilizers, which, when washed off into water bodies, significantly affect marine life and their ecosystems. The last one is SDG 15- Life on Land is enhanced by organic farming. The practice devoid of chemicals protects biodiversity, such as pollinating insects, birds, and other plants.
Miriam Kariuki is Sustainability enthusiast. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
City girl turns farm enthusiast By Beth Odhil
If someone had told me that farming
undergraduate in environmental
would be what brings my loves
sustainability and Agroecosystems
and me together, I would not have
management. I fell in love with the
believed it. I grew up in the city. What
simplified production of food, organic
got me joy was the cartoon network
farming, and waste management in
after school and middle-grade books
those four years. The discovery that
like Alice in wonderland. I imagined
one can just add simple nutrients to
how I would grow up and become an
the earth and, in turn, would provide
illustrator and an author. I had built a
me with high-quality food and trees
rich world, both within and without,
under whose shade I dig knowledge I
and I was content. Then the city girl
gain knowledge was fascinating.
grew up. I went to university and did my
I remember visiting ‘Sylvia’s farm’ with my classmates. There, we sat in groups
and told stories our mothers and
using sustainable farming techniques,
fathers narrated to us about tending
building human relationships, and
to small and large farms.
enhancing the economic and social
I listened intently to Sylvia narrate how she wanted to produce good food
lives of everyone who interacts with the earth.
for her child and the community. I
Organic farming calls for 3D
watched my friends roam around
interactions when applying manure,
the garden in awe, asking, “can we
harvesting, crop rotation, and
pick this?” “How did you rear your
other techniques. We further need
rabbits?” “Isn’t it exciting watching
to understand the importance of
the sun touch the green leaves in the
protecting the earth and why our
morning?” Everyone was so in tune
parents speak so passionately of their
with each other, with nature.
farming days and try to teach us the
From my experiences in class and in the field, I understood that Organic
importance of ‘getting your hands dirty for the earth’s good.
farming was not just saving the
While I still hold on to the desire
environment. It was rebuilding my life,
to explore the world of literature,
opening me up to new loves.
I believe it is also essential to take
I started to view organic farming from a different lens. It means building relations with yourself and the earth. Understanding and taking care to give back to the soil as much as it has given to you. Tending to its nutrients,
care of the environmental aesthetics, save the trees, heal the soils, tend to the wildlife, and feed on nutritious meals. Organic farming is the index finger pointing us towards a more sustainable environment.
Beth Odhil is a lover of literature and big trees with deep roots Email: email@example.com
What does organic mean for farmers? By Vida Insights
At the recently held COP26,
increasing pest infestations, floods,
participants recognized the need
and droughts, are mainly borne by
for sustainable food systems to
the smallholder farmers who rely on
ensure food security and end
climate-sensitive natural resources to
hunger worldwide while achieving
make a living (IFAD). These farmers are
climate objectives. This would be
unfortunately sidelined in global and
accomplished through a holistic
national policy debates that impact
approach, building on economic,
their sources of livelihood.
social, and environmental sustainability.
We at Vida Insights sought to collect views from organic farmers at the
The effects of climate change,
Organic Farmers Market (OFM) in
including temperature rise,
Nairobi on the role of organic farming
unpredictable weather patterns,
in enhancing sustainability. The
interviews were carried out in January
caused by crop failure and price
2022 with the written consent of the
Mr. Muthama, one of OFM’s
Ms. Muthoni, a Farm Manager at
organizers, believes that organic
Spoonrift Organic Farm in Kajiado
farming has immense potential
County, states that organic farming
for growth in Kenya. He, however,
has clear benefits to the environment
noted that the sector continues
and hence mitigates the effects of
to face many challenges such
as inaccessibility to quality seeds,
At Spoonrift, compost manure from recycled kitchen refuse and farmyard wastes adds nutrients and necessary
contaminated water from upstream rivers, and relatively low uptake of organic produce in the country.
bacteria and fungi to the soil. This,
Mr. Muthama opined that whereas
in turn, improves soil water retention
there are apparent benefits to the
capacity, and the minimal residue
environment and economic gains
is what drains into water bodies. The
for farmers more needs to be done
farm also practices crop rotation
for the sector’s more comprehensive
which aids in maintaining soil fertility.
social benefits. He believes that
Although pest control remains
relevant legislation and awareness
a crucial challenge, short-term
strategies should be implemented.
measures have been adopted by
This will ensure that organic farming is
Spoonrift to reduce the effects of pest
infestation, including intercropping and planting insect repellent crops like the marigold.
From the views discussed above, although interest in organic food is increasing in Kenya and in potential
Kakila Organic Produce is an organic
export markets, a concerted
farm run by Mr. Ng’ang’a. He outlined
multisectoral approach, including
that, for now, the farm only manages
support from relevant government
to break even. He is, however,
agencies, will be required to optimize
optimistic that profits will be realized in
the sector’s impact on sustainability
the long run. Mixed cropping enables
and climate-resilient agricultural
the farm to mitigate against losses
Vida Insights is a Kenyan women-led social and economic research firm Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to make biochar fertilizer at home
By Marion Makunyo
Biochar is a form of charcoal
during the dry season. This structure
produced by exposing organic
also attracts nutrients and stores them.
waste such as dry plant materials,
It has lower rates of nutrient depletion,
perennial weeds, and crop residue
thus enriching the soil.
to heat above 700`C in a low oxygen environment. It is an organic fertilizer that is environmentally friendly and sustainable. Farmers can easily produce it using agricultural waste available on the farm and mix it with animal manure to get a nutrient-rich fertilizer at a low cost.
officer, made biochar at home on a small scale using the following simple steps; Step 1 Start by digging a cone-shaped pit. The diameter at the top of the cone
Biochar is a carbon-rich material
should be less than a meter, or it will
with a spongy, porous structure that
get too hot and need too much wood
helps water retention and drainage.
to fill. 60 cm is a reasonable size for a
It improves the soil’s ability to hold
moisture and excess water used
Liverson Mwandembo, PlantVillage
in depleted soils. It can attract and
Get a pile of wood together in the cone pit. Start by building a small fire at the cone base using dry twigs. Once this is going well, add more twigs and then larger pieces of wood. Let these burn until they start forming
retain water and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. It can also sequester carbon in soils for hundreds to thousands of years, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere, thus mitigating climate change.
Biochar and Sustainability
Then add another layer of wood.
Using biochar reduces the waste from
Once again, wait until this turns black
agricultural residues and provides a
and starts to develop a layer of white
way to transform waste into value-
ash. Repeat the process until you
added products. The dependency
reach the top of the cone or run out
on chemical fertilizers has risked the
sustainability of the environment by causing various effects such as global
Step 3 - Final step
warming, imbalanced soil pH, and
Quench the fire by adding water.
nutrient depletion in soils. Adopting
Remove the charcoal and crush it into
a more natural way of farming that
small pieces. Mix the charcoal with
increases crop yields will reduce the
animal manure, and your biochar is
reliance on chemical fertilizer and
ready for use on the farm.
sustain agricultural production and
Biochar is a more permanent
alternative to increasing soil fertility
Marion Makunyo and Liverson Mwandembo are Research Extension Officers at PlantVillage Email: email@example.com
Fertilizers are a disaster, abandoning them is a bigger disaster. By Pamela Okutoyi
The use of artificial fertilizers and
“We manufacture a slow-release
pesticides would possibly increase
fortified organic fertilizer known
yields. Still, these inputs are out of
as Asili granulated fertilizer. It has
reach to many small-scale farmers
carbon-based compounds; Calcium,
as they require capital and risk
Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium, Iron,
environmental pollution. Farmers are,
Molybdenum, Selenium, and many
therefore, being encouraged to turn
others that help improve plant quality.
to organic farming to improve their
Due to balanced nutrients, our fertilizer increases plants’ productivity under healthy soil and reduces toxic load by keeping chemicals out of the air, water, and soil,” said Albert Kamau, the company’s director, and maintenance manager. As a company, they want to help address the problem of soil degradation, which has been on the rise, and provide solutions to farmers
yield production. Agri Flora Organic Solutions is an early-stage company trying to promote this farming. Agriflora, which was incorporated in 2016, uses fully decomposed animal and plant waste to process organic fertilizers. The company provides clients with safe, reliable, efficient, and environmentally sound products.
in a country which mainly depends on agriculture to achieve food security. “Our main objective is to encourage agro-ecosystem health among farmers in the region and the nearby counties such as Nyandarua, Baringo, and Samburu, with our main target group being potato farmers. This includes biodiversity, biological
cycles, and soil biological activity,” he
has partnered with Kenya Climate
Ventures, KCV, to help them roll out a
He demystifies the misconception that
large-scale production of fertilizers.
organic farming is not productive by
“We look forward to expanding our
pointing to evidence of increased
manufacturing plant because we
productivity due to transitioning from
realized many farmers are now using
the low input systems usually found in
our products, which means we have
to increase our productivity,” he
“We have received positive
feedback from farmers who use our
Since Kenya mainly depends
organic fertilizers; to them, organic
on Agriculture to achieve food
agriculture has drastically contributed
security, as a company, they want
to protecting the natural resource
to help address the problem of soil
and environment and has ensured
degradation, which has been on the
sustainable food production. They are
rise and provide solutions to farmers.
certain this kind of farming will lead to full self-reliance on food soon,” he said.
KCV has offered Agriflora business advisory services and supported them financially to continue producing
Due to the increasing demand for
quality organic manure.
their organic fertilizers, Agriflora Pamela Okutoyi is a development communications professional specializing in sustainability and climate change. Email: pamela firstname.lastname@example.org
Can we feed 47 million people organically? By Grace Ouma
According to the United Nations,
Organic farmers contribute to
135 million people suffer from acute
sustainable and natural food
hunger, and should the trend
production and, therefore, enhance
continue, more than 850 million
food security in the country.
people will be affected by hunger in 2030. Additionally, more than 250 million of the undernourished live in Africa. These statistics paint an unfortunate reality that we need to act now. Understanding the
In Kenya, there are several obstacles to fully realizing the positive impact of organic farming on the farmers and the communities in which they live, especially for small farm holders.
challenges that affect our agriculture
These policy concerns should be the
system and exploring how it can be
priority areas for policymakers and
improved to provide nutrition to the
stakeholders if we are to realize the
millions of people at risk of hunger and
Sustainable Development Goal 2 of
zero hunger by 2030. The SDG aims to end hunger, achieve food security,
improve nutrition, and promote
value chains. It causes devastating
effects that could instead be
Among the most common challenges that affect organic farming in rural areas are lack of knowledge, natural disasters, famine, and uncontrolled importation of similar products that sell
avoided and significantly mitigated. Policymakers should address this state of unpreparedness and reduce the negative impact on organic farming to make it more sustainable.
at a lower price.
Lack of knowledge and market
Organic farmers in Kenya decry the
government’s weak importation
Organic farming is knowledgeintensive with complex logistical processes. Besides subsidies, the government needs to support the local farmers by providing them with knowledge and access to markets for their products to improve their livelihoods. Teaching farmers how
policy that allows farm products from neighboring countries to flood the market at lower prices. This process leaves our farmers with their produce on their farms with no one to sell to. Policymakers should focus on sealing this loophole if our organic market is to thrive and remain sustainable.
to farm organically and providing
In conclusion, organic farming can
opportunities for export so that their
reduce hunger and enhance food
products can fetch better prices will
security and sustainable agriculture.
increase engagement in organic
However, it needs the government’s
farming. Suffice it to say that more
full backing by addressing the current
people demand organically grown
challenges. You cannot hope for a
foods as health concerns increase.
better future by burying your head in
the sand today.
Famine is a frequent phenomenon in Kenya, affecting agricultural
Grace Ouma is a Tutorial Fellow at The Technical University of Kenya Email: email@example.com
Can farm trash be a farmer’s treasure? By Vincent Kipyegon
Green manure, also called crop
Crop manure enhances sustainability
manure, is decomposing crop residues in three ways. Firstly, Crop manure that are broken down to provide
adds fertility to soil; soil microorganisms
essential nutrients to the soil during
decompose the organic matter from
wet conditions. These crop residues
crop residue, thus releasing nutrients
include maize straw, bean straw,
that enrich the soil. Dorcas Rutto, a
peas, wheat straw, waste silage,
crop health expert, notes that some
waste substrate, e.t.c. Crop manure
crop residues such as bean straw and
is useful in growing vegetable crops
wheat are nitrogen-fixing plants, thus
such as kales, cabbage, cauliflower,
aiding soil fertility.
and broccoli. Crop manure cuts the cost of
nitrogen to the soil, which is vital for
purchasing synthetic fertilizers,
the growth of plants and improving
prevents the destruction of soil living
the soil structure,” notes Mrs. Rutto.
microorganisms, and increases farmer incomes with zero input.
“These plants break down and release
Secondly, green manure can be used for mulching. Mulching prevents
moisture loss from the soil through
crops or soil microorganisms. Animal
evaporation during the dry season.
manure can also scorch crops if
The loss of water in crops leads to
applied in excess. “Animal manure
decreased yields and sometimes
can transmit bacteria wilt to new
wilting plants. Crop manure covers
crops when animals are fed with crops
vegetable crops during the dry season such as potato peels that previously and decomposes during the rainy
contained bacteria,” explains Mrs.
season thus, prevents soil erosion.
Thirdly, green manure prevents crops
Weed management is a crucial player
from pests and diseases. Synthetic
in organic farming, fertile soil speeds
fertilizers and chemical pesticides
up the growth of crops and weed.
disable soil micro-organisms that feed
Weeds not only compete for nutrients
the soil with nutrients; they create
with vegetables but also attract pests
acidity that discourages optimum
and diseases. Blackjack, a weed, is
performance of micro-organism that
usually infested by black aphids during
keeps harmful pests at bay.
flowering. It is essential to undertake
On the other hand, animal manure has high organic nutrients, but its
frequent weed removal to maximize crop yield from green manure.
usage is risky. Sometimes it introduces harmful pests which attack the
Vincent Kipyegon is an Agri-technology journalist based in Kericho. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Entrepreneur reaping spicy returns from pumpkins By Pamela Okutoyi
For many years, pumpkins were
pumpkin processing company that
regarded as one of the less important
makes pumpkin flour and pumpkin
crops in Kenya. Pegotty Mutai and
seed oil, founded in November 2019.
her three friends, Esther, Lilian, and Wangeci, got into a partnership to change this mindset. They did extensive research on pumpkin processing and discovered how much value could be added to the product beyond making soup – which is basically what most people use pumpkin for in the country.
Mutai and her friends wanted to change the poor health habits of most Kenyans and reduce their dependence on a few seasonal crops. They knew that while many pumpkins were grown in the community, the yield only fetched low prices and is often considered “women’s food.” The thought of
Their research led to discovering
processing pumpkins was ideal.
the value addition of pumpkins into
Curious about what value could be
pumpkin seed oil (from pumpkin
added to the pumpkins, Mutai and
seeds) and pumpkin flour (from the
her friends began researching the
pumpkin flesh). The result of their
crop and discovered its nutritional
partnership is Tasher Botanicals, a
values. Pumpkins are rich in dietary
fibers, vitamins, minerals, and
It requires one to work harder and
antioxidants, and they do not increase think deeper,” says Mutai. “When cholesterol levels.
we started, we didn’t have any
“We thought of how pumpkins could be processed into flour for pastries, how it could help farmers and provide jobs to the unemployed while generating profit for us,”
knowledge on processing. We had
Mutai recalls. The four friends intend to use their business to solve social issues like youth unemployment, rural farmers’ development, food supply shortage, and a healthy food alternative. Apart from creating employment, the enterprise offers pumpkin farmers a ready market for their produce at better prices.
“The good thing about pumpkins is that they are not seasonal. They grow after six months and keep growing for the next six months without planting a fresh seed,” says Mutai.
to attend several pieces of training and learn the type of equipment we required and how to use them. Unfortunately, this equipment is costly, and we have not been able to afford it on a large scale. Currently, we are doing small-scale manual production, which is slow and not of good quality,” she says. Finding an appropriate location for her company to meet the Kenya Standards Board’s requirements and convincing people of the product’s health benefits were other challenges the business faced in its first months. The value addition process is currently being done at home, where they are using unconventional methods to extract oil and process the flour. Manual production affects profit margins. Due to the slow and manual process of value addition, the business cannot keep up with client orders, thereby losing potential loyal
At the moment, Tasha Botanicals is the customers,” Mutai adds. only pumpkin processing company in Machakos County and its environs.
Mutai says their business has made tremendous progress in its elementary
Indeed, it couldn’t have been that
months despite these challenges.
The company has been able to gain
“Running a business isn’t an easy task.
market acceptance through trade shows, exhibitions, and advertisements
which she uses to raise awareness of
entrepreneurs. She says that you will
the health benefits of pumpkins. She
achieve what you set your mind to do
wishes to mechanize the company’s
and just start small and grow.
value addition processes and set up a production facility for pumpkins’ processing and value addition. Currently, the company has developed a prototype of both pumpkin flour and pumpkin seed oil. “Tasher Botanicals has sold 30 bottles of 100ml that they sold at Kes.500 per bottle to their close circles, which were mainly repeated orders,” she explains. “We are also happy to partner with Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, which has supported us in developing a business plan with a marketing strategy and a project implementation plan.
In the future... The enterprise hopes to supply its products to all regions in Nairobi. Mutai is confident that Tasher Botanicals will offer health and nutrition-conscious individuals, invalids, or people with special needs and dry food consumers a better and healthy alternative to flour and oil. The financial assistance from KCIC has enabled the enterprise to purchase equipment for pumpkin processing, including an oil expeller, solar drier, packaging materials, and working capital. The success of Tasher Botanicals is not only a win for Mutai and her friends. She says that the
KCIC has also enabled us access
company is creating employment
to information on any funding
opportunities and helping eradicate
opportunities available and
poverty while at the same time being
mentorship with a more profound
a source of nutritious and healthy
analysis of value addition project
“Having our business has afforded us to be job creators and create impact in the community– which has always been my dream,” Mutai concludes.
What can we learn from Mutai’s experiences? Mutai attributes the success of her venture in the market to perseverance, hard work, and the openness to learn from other
Pamela Okutoyi is a development communications professional specializing in sustainability and climate change. Email: pamela email@example.com
Insects for poultry feed who would have thought? By Annancieta Mwololo
A sustainable future for all has been a
a sustainable waste disposal solution.
recurring theme in major international
BSF eggs are incubated in organic
conferences. Many commentators
waste collected from markets. This
acknowledge the importance of
enhances the cleanliness of market
sustainable agriculture in realizing
areas and provides administrators with
a sustainable future for everyone.
alternative waste disposal solutions.
Organic farming is a mechanism
Additionally, the waste from BSF can
for producing quality food for
be used to make compost manure
humanity while doing little harm to
used in farms to increase crop yields.
the environment. While organic crop farming has been widely explored, organic poultry farming remains understudied.
Recent research shows that using BSF larvae as chicken feed supplements positively impacts a farmer’s income. Among these benefits is reducing
Although conventional commercial
the cost of rearing the birds and
poultry farming remains popular,
increasing profits. Additionally,
insect-based chicken farming could
chickens gain weight faster when
soon be the typical means of rearing
they feed on BSF larvae than on
conventional feeds. Therefore, they
As an organic poultry farming method,
become ready for the market sooner.
insect-based chicken farming employs Feeding chicken on BSF larvae is safe insects such as black soldier fly
as the flies do not transmit diseases.
larvae (BSFL, Hermetia illucens) as an
Further research has shown that
alternative to commercial chicken
insects such as BSF have a more
feeds. These flies are easy to breed
nutritious amino acid composition,
and contain high levels of a protein
supporting the immune system. As
crucial for the growth of birds.
such, BSF-based poultry farming is
Besides being environment-friendly and a protein source, BSFL also offers
beneficial to the health of those who consume the chicken. Relatedly, the
excreta from BSF-fed chicken can be
and can be grown sustainably on
used to enhance soil fertility which is
diverse organic waste streams.
suitable for crop yields.
Although there may be uncertainties
While breeding insects as poultry
associated with the use of insects in
feed may be a peculiar notion at the
poultry farming, these uncertainties
moment, it cannot be disregarded
rarely border on quality or
entirely. Insect-based poultry
sustainability. Instead, they could
farming provides a sustainable way
be related to consumer attitudes
of producing poultry feed with low
or legislation. However, there is little
environmental impacts. Chicken
doubt that insect feed is an organic
feeds derived from insects such as BSF
method of poultry farming that will
provide excellent nutritional quality
ultimately enhance sustainability.
A publication of Kenya Climate Innovation Center. Strathmore Business School Building, 3rd Floor, Ole Sangale Road, Madaraka, PO Box 49162 – 00200, Nairobi, Kenya. (+254) 703 034 701 www.kenyacic.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF DENMARK Danida
This document was produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.