Smallholder farmers should benefit from climate-smart agriculture training
As Kenya, like the rest of the world, continues to experience warmer temperatures, rainfall variability and increasingly severe and frequent extreme climate changes, a public-private partnership initiative targeting 4,000 farmers in Nakuru has been activated to intensify the adoption of Climate-Smart Agricultural Practices.
The beneficiaries, who are women and young farmers living in the Mau ecosystem, are trained in the application of improved agricultural practices associated with the planting of high yielding and climate resistant seeds as part of the jointly implemented program. by the Green Belt Movement, Kenya Forest. Service (KFS) and the county government.
Greenbelt Movement Deputy Executive Director Mercy Karunditu says the company is part of efforts to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 of ending hunger, ensuring food security and improving nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
The program also aims to increase the technical know-how of farmers on climate-smart agriculture approaches, unlock market-driven value chains for youth and women, and improve their capacity to participate in management. productive use of land and water and increase the number of women in agro-industry. access to finance.
Speaking at the opening of a capacity building workshop on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices for farmer trainers, agricultural extension workers and agronomists, Karunditu stressed that the The most critical component of CSA that targeted farmers have been encouraged to adopt is agroforestry which leads to improved productivity, less erosion and healthier ecosystems.
It also restores soil health, reducing the need for fertilizer while increasing income.
Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastures.
It helps improve soil fertility and structure, retain soil moisture, protect crops and increase crop yields.
“Our current food production systems face a huge challenge, made even more frightening by climate change. We need to dramatically scale up climate smart agriculture (CSA), an approach to food production that can improve productivity, increase resilience to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Agroforestry will also protect crops from high winds and pests. These beneficial roles of trees will help increase crop yields, ”said the Deputy Executive Director.
She was accompanied by County Director for Environment, Energy, Natural Resources and Climate Change Grace Karanja and County Director for Gender and Culture Selina Nkatha.
Karunditu said farmers were encouraged to involve the integration and use of trees in cultivated fields, farms and across agricultural landscapes.
She added: “We empower them to cultivate trees on their farm and fruit crops such as mangoes, macadamia nuts, oranges and avocados. In doing so, they are economically empowered by selling the fruits while the pressure for firewood and timber is reduced on the forests in the water catchment areas.
Trees cushion the impacts and variability of climate change and diversify land use and farming systems, providing additional livelihoods and environmental benefits not provided by management of treeless land.
Karunditu observed that climate change had negatively impacted the number of various crop yields due to increased exposure to high temperatures, water stress, flooding, disease, pests and salinity.
As a mitigation measure, the company encouraged the use of early maturing crop varieties that are resilient to climate change.
According to the county director for the environment, energy, natural resources and climate change, farmers engaged in agroforestry have recorded an increase in milk production, improved agricultural productivity, income diversification and a environmental sustainability.
“Farmers can grow trees that are also folding crops such as calliandra, which contain large amounts of protein required by livestock for the production of quality milk. Most of these fodder trees are drought and legume resistant compared to the often used common grass as it will require adequate irrigation, ”she explained.
Karanja said that adopting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is effective in enabling communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change, while sustainably increasing productivity and providing co-benefits of reduction / removal of greenhouse gas emissions for environmental sustainability, nutrition and livelihoods. .
She assured farmers that the county administration is committed to supporting institutional, policy and investment environments, which can help climate-smart agriculture innovations quickly reach scale.
Karanja observed that farmers were also equipped with the skills to make and use renewable, biodegradable, sustainable and environmentally friendly organic fertilizers and pesticides in their businesses.
“Organic fertilizers are generally made from plant or animal waste or powdered minerals. Examples include manure and compost. In addition to releasing nutrients when they break down, organic fertilizers improve the structure of the soil and increase its ability to retain water and nutrients.
Since they are not synthetic organic fertilizers, they present little or no risk of toxic accumulations of chemicals and salts that increase the acidity of the soil, which can be fatal to plants, ”he said. said the director.
The program also promotes fish farming as an alternative source of nutrient-rich foods and a source of livelihood that can strengthen household incomes and increase resilience to shocks.
Nkatha said the project seeks to build the capacity of youth and women to meaningfully engage in climate-smart agriculture.
“We recognize that food security begins and ends with women, who make up 60 to 75 percent of the smallholder labor force in Kenya, as well as in many other countries in Africa. It is therefore crucial to leave no one behind in the quest for food and nutrition security for all, ”said the county director for gender and culture.
Women, Nkatha added, are disproportionately affected by the overlapping challenges of poverty and food insecurity caused by floods, droughts, locusts and now Covid-19.