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Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Africa
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Funded by HIVOS

Promoting Climate Smart Agriculture Innovations in Kisumu & Vihiga Counties through the Open and Green Society Model in East Africa

 

Introduction

To address climate related risks, SANREM partnered with Agritech Green Services International, County Governments of Kisumu and Vihiga, respective Departments of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives and Community Based Organizations for women and youth farmers to develop and promote existing climate smart agriculture innovations that sustainably increase on-farm productivity and incomes (food security), adapt and build resilience to climate change, and have mitigation co-benefits. Through a participatory process, the farmers and partners identified needs and priorities.

Climate change mitigation was done by supporting a total of 6500 farmers in tree nursery management, and soil and water management. Groups shared knowledge on how to reduce soil and nutrient losses from crop land, increase carbon and tree cover on-farm while managing a total of 30 tree nurseries with a capacity to supply over 250,000 tree seedling per season. This effort contributes to Kenya government policies to achieve more tree cover on agricultural land. There was further work on evaluation of the benefits of multipurpose trees on-farm such as integrating fodder and fruit trees, as well as establishing demonstration wood lots. A total of 5 km of terraces and 3 km of contoured grass strips, and 50 water storage pans were constructed.

A total of 4,000 farmers have pooled community savings and credit schemes into agricultural innovation fund that has a combined capital base of US$ 35,000. It provides small loans to the farmer groups to apply new farming enterprises. Four youth groups have been trained on enterprise development, and have established four smart farms as an approach to dealing with the challenges of degraded land, declining land size and seasonal rainfall variability.

Over the reporting period, activities conducted and reported included:

  • Helping farmers in understanding how to improve land management practices and incorporating fruit trees to improve nutrition and enhance the soil carbon content
  • Introduction of commercial production of tissue culture bananas both for cooking and ripening varieties to improve on household income generation.
  • Open source seed bulking
  • Open Society Capacity building through Women Empowerment
  • Sharing knowledge on how to reduce soil and nutrient losses from crop land, increase carbon and tree cover on-farm
  • Establishment of Farmer Field Schools – FFS

The aim of SANREM as a development organization was to have better adapted rural communities in both Vihiga and Kisumu counties, with higher incomes and greater food security.

Project Outcomes

The indicators of achievements of the above objectives shows that were on track and achieved outcomes which are being observed and reported in Nyando and Vihiga which include:

  • In Kisumu County, Nyando Sub County, three community based nurseries were established through CBO groups namely Kobiero, Kamango and Obinju. These CBOs were supported through strengthening of the nurseries by supplying of nursery materials and equipment, tree seeds and technical support. These three CBOs implemented the agroforestry components on their farms by planting 15,000 multipurpose trees during long rain season and additional tree nursery with 20,000 tree seedlings. Five farmers from FOKO and NECODEP also procured 200 grafted mangoes (Ngowe and apple varieties) and 50 grafted oranges to establish mother stocks to provide scions for future fruit tree expansion and production in the CBOs
  • In Vihiga, the Sabatia Multi Purpose Horticultural Producers Association was involved in hardening 25,000 tissue culture bananas through support from SANREM and the County Government. The association also rallied farmers to establish tree nursery seedlings with a capacity to produce 50,000 seedlings for distribution to members.
  • A total of 35,000 tissue culture banana plantlets (20,000 Grand naine and 15,000 Nusu ng’ombe) were acquired in long rain season by SANREM to farmers in Nyando. Demonstrations on planting and management practices were conducted in selected farmers’ fields in six (Kobiero, Kamango, Obinju, Kamwana, Kamula and Kabuor) villages. Farmers who planted the first tissue culture bananas are now experiencing a bumper fruit crop that will be harvested before the end of March 2016.
  • A section of Cherwa Community land was used for production of different seed varieties for farmers to plant in the short rains season of 2015. A task force comprising of 6 people was formed including, the area assistant Chief Mr. Jacob Moses Onditi, Field volunteer Daniel Kitondo, NECODEP CBO leaders – Chairperson Richard Ouma, Organizing Secretary Joshwa Opiyo Omollo and SANREM’s field officer. They identified 7 self-help groups that were already farming on the land under NECODEP CBO. The seeds were harvested and stored, and distributed at the start of 2015 short rain season. The current crop will be harvested in February 2016.
  • Smallholder farmers in Sabatia, Vihiga also established a sweet potato seeding program whereby high quality vines were cultivated and distributed as clean planting materials for 1,500 households. Sweet potatoes are a food security crop within the county and is highly valued because it is drought resistant.
  • The inclusion of women in the program was vital since they are the key implementers of every aspect that takes place in their households and the community. Women spearheaded some of the activities which is a significant indicator of women empowerment in the project area. Some of these activities included Land management practices through terracing, rain water harvesting and water holes, kitchen gardening, composting. Other activities included improved livestock development, Adoption of climate smart household crops’ use and use of Energy saving technologies instead unsustainable use of fuel wood with traditional cooking methods. In both Vihiga and Kisumu counties where the project was implemented, women constituted not less than 60% of project beneficiaries.
  • In both Vihiga and Kisumu Counties, all farmers who have adopted soil and water conservation technologies reported high yields in long rain season. The soils were not washed away and there was enough moisture, with improved certified seed varieties that were used during planting. These types of soil and water conservation structures that were implemented include Terrace, Stone bunds or stone lines and vegetative buffer strips.  In Kapsokale catchment where stones are readily available out of the 2,661 meters of terrace laid-out 1,162 meters were constructed with stone bunds.
  • Women from Nyando and Vihiga counties were invited to the climate-smart agriculture training, held during the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) Show in Kisumu. Over 320 women were trained on climate-smart agricultural practices, how to combat weeds and pests and how to grow vegetables. The main aim of the sessions was to expose the farmers to options that would improve their adaptive capacity, improve their understanding of appropriate agricultural practices and tools, and to link them up with financial institutions and insurance schemes. The farmers were also introduced to E-extension services which they could use to access information on improved seed varieties and how to combat pests and diseases
  • Farmer Field Schools are important in sharing of knowledge, exchange of ideas and learning of new technologies. A total of 1039 farmers within Vihiga and Kisumu counties are testing a number of promising climate-proofing activities that can increase their resilience and ability to adapt.In June 2015, innovative farmers got the chance to show off their activities to their neighbours. This ‘learning event’, gave more than 1000 farmers the experience to learn about new farming practices – happening in real time. They visited 14 farmers in the area.

These key achievements are attributed to SANREM’s commitment to seeing the success of this project. Through its partners and other stakeholders, SANREM directly contributed to above changes and outcomes in Vihiga and Kisumu counties in the following ways:

  • Capacity building of farmers in the CBOs and also in the field demonstrations and in the ToT training. The transfer of skills from our technical officers to extension officers and other TOTs is a direct contribution that has had an effect on the way project beneficiaries are transforming their farming methods.
  • Increasing the number of women participation in the project in both Kisumu and Vihiga counties was one of the ERMCSD’s core objectives. Therefore, SANREM has ensured that at least 60% of project beneficiaries are women. Capacity building in CBOs and in ToT training has shown that our efforts have yielded expected result as more women than men are benefiting in the project.
  • In Vihiga County, which is mostly hilly, SANREM has contributed directly on soil and water conservation through resource support and offering of technical advice to households that participated in the construction of terraces on their farms.
  • Commercial production of tissue culture bananas was facilitated by SANREM where a total of 35,000 tissue culture seedling were distributed to farmers in Kisumu county while 50,000 were distributed to farmers in Vihiga county.

 

Outputs

Helping farmers in understanding how to improve land management practices and incorporating fruit trees to improve nutrition and enhance the soil carbon content

Meeting food demand coined as food security in a household requires having several alternative sources of food. SANREM has used this principle to engage its partners in ensuring diversification of sources of food, including fruit trees which not only improve nutrition but also enhance the soil carbon content. During the long rains, SANREM facilitated production and distribution of fruit trees and other agroforestry trees among a total of 3500 farmers in Kisumu County and 3000 farmers in Vihiga County.

Kobiero village in Kisumu county led the pack and was able to plant 580 woodlot trees, 2190 boundary trees and 1380 agro forestry/intercrop tress, Kamongo planted 435 woodlots, 1455 boundary trees and only 100 agro forestry trees and Obinju village planted 2300 woodlots, 4652 boundary trees and 1600 agro forestry trees. Out of the 15,000 tree seedlings the groups targeted, they were able to plant 14,692 which was below their target by 308 (2.05%). The total number of trees that survived was 9352 indicating that the survival rate was 62%. This data was captured and recorded in table 1:

Table 1: Different trees species planted in Kisumu county by FOKO and NECODEP CBO’s during the long rains, 2015

Villages Sum of Woodlot Sum of Boundary Trees Sum of Agro-forestry trees
Kamango 435 1455 100
Kobiero 580 2190 1380
Obinju 2300 4652 1600
Grand Total 3315 8297 3080

The following table shows a summary of the total number of tree species sold for seedlings raised during LR 2015 season by FOKO and NECODEP group members. It also shows the number of seedlings raised in the season

Table 2: Seedlings raised by FOKO and NECODEP in 2015 LR Season

Tree Type Seedlings raised for LR2015 by FOKO Seedlings raised for LR2015 by NECODEP
Casuarina 9500 1100
Markhamia 7000 0
Grevillea 14000 3000
Eucalyptus 1100 0
K apple 300 0
Gliricidia 4000 0
Pawpaw 0 500
Croton 1800 0
Terminalia 600 500
Passion fruit 0 800
Total 38300 5900

To achieve high survival rates of trees planted there was urgent need for concerted efforts from the groups to ensure proper management of trees was put in place.

Introduction of commercial production of tissue culture bananas both for cooking and ripening varieties to improve on household income generation

The market survey conducted by SANREM’s monitoring and evaluation team showed a prime market for bananas in the region and the towns in both Kisumu and Vihiga counties and beyond. Therefore SANREM in its quest to promote income from agriculture initiated tissue culture banana production. It targeted distribution of 85,000 tissue culture banana plantlets before the end of 2015. This was achieved through collaboration with the Vihiga and Kisumu county governments’ departments of agriculture and cooperatives.

A total of 35,000 tissue culture banana plantlets (20,000 Grand naine and 15,000 Nusu ng’ombe) were acquired in different seasons to farmers in Nyando benchmark site by KALRO in collaboration with SANREM. Demonstrations on planting and management practices were conducted in selected farmers’ fields in six (Kobiero, Kamango, Obinju, Kamwana, Kamula and Kabuor) villages. 1000 plantlets of Tissue calture bananas and 1000 seedlings of grafted mangoes were distributed to KAPSOKALE farmers for long rains 2015. A total of 3200 farmers planted tissue culture bananas on their farms. A total of 50,000 tissues culture bananas were distributed to 3,000 farmes in Vihiga County which boasts of banana as a cashcrop for smallholder farmers in the county. Major markets in the county where banana is sold include Mbale, Majengo, Chavakali, Shiamakhokho, Lwand and Mudede. Kisumu and Eldoret also serve as key markets for bananas for Vihiga county farmers.

Open source seed bulking

In Kisumu county, in Nyando sub county, SANREM in consultation with the area assistant Chief Mr. Jacob Moses Onditi, CCAFS Field volunteer Daniel Kitondo, NECODEP CBO leader Chairperson Richard Ouma, Organizing Secretary Joshwa Opiyo Omollo and SANREM’s field officers surveyed for a farm that has enough space to be used for production of seeds. The CBOs officials suggested a section of Cherwa Community land to produce different seed varieties for farmers to plant in SR 2015 season, which has successfully been undertaken. They also identified 7 self-help groups that were already farming on the land under NECODEP CBO.

Table 3: Seven self-help groups working on Cherwa communal farm

No. Name of group Contact person
1 Achego border Phoeb Adhiambo  Abor
2 Odeyo Nyalo A. Teresa Ocharo
3 Agoro Utaweza Alice Atieno Omom
4 Obinju SHG Catherine Owiti
5 Cham Luch Women group Risper Atieno
6 Ng’onglo Tailoring Women group Caren Omollo
7 Ojola Women group Pamela Okinyo

All seven groups in Nyando sub county agreed to work with SANREM in planting the seed varieties provided (Green grams – N 26, Cow peas – M 66, Finger millet – KAT FM 1, Beans – KAT x56, Pigeon peas – KAT 6018). To formalize our working MoU with these groups, they requested for a binding document between the farmers and SANREM on the modalities to be agreed upon regarding all activities to be undertaken and in case of compensation at harvest.

Farmers requested that KALRO team working in the region should also execute soil and water conservation measures on the farm. They also requested for the involvement of MoA personnel to participate in planting and advice in general management of the farm. SANREM agreed that most of the activities (land preparation, planting, weeding, general care and harvesting) will be done by the group members on condition that they will be compensated at harvest time since the yield will be taken away for distribution as seed to other farmers.

Open Society Capacity building through Women Empowerment

Women and youth are very vital in the development of a community as they are the main food producers and environmental conservationists. Below are some of the activities that were spearheaded by the women farmers in both the counties of Vihiga and Kisumu since the inception of SANREM’s women empowerment program:

  • Land management practices- soil and water conservation i.e. terracing, rain water harvesting and water holes, kitchen gardening, composting.
  • In Lower Nyakach of Kisumu county and Sabata of Vihiga county, 200 women led house-holds have excavated a total of 20,000metres of terraces 800 mini water dam measuring 6 x 4 x 1.5 meters as soil and water conservation measures. Individual and women groups have established a total 15 acres of land for cereals, legumes and local vegetables with the aim of demonstrating to the community benefits gained as a result of crop diversification and use of recommended agronomic practices. As a follow up on lessons learnt during ASK show Kisumu exhibitions, 3200 women and youth farmers have established kitchen gardens using modern technologies (Zai pits, key hole and sack gardens, they have also stated practicing organic farming using compost manure.
  • Adoption of climate smart household crops such as improved indigenous vegetables, cowpeas, green grams, sorghum and millet that tolerate climatic variability. This was especially relevant for Vihiga county where traditional vegetables fetch very high market prices.
  • Energy saving technologies- e.g. development of rocket and mandeleo stoves that use less firewood to reduce the magnitude of cutting trees as a mitigation strategy to climate change prompted by deforestation also as an adaptive approach to escalating scarcity of firewood in Nyando River catchment and Vihiga hills which are mostly stony and sandy with little veegation to support trees used for fuelwood. This intervention has reduced the rate of cutting trees by 30% (it is envisioned that by the year 2016 the rate tree felling for fuel wood will reduce by 60%)

These activities boost women’s self-esteem, awareness, and learning by doing and discovering the benefits of economic empowerment. It is expected that the women-led model demo farms in Kisumu and Vihiga counties shall act as practical and empirical learning centres in the target villages for both women and men farmers. These farms shall also provide opportunity for Participatory Action Research for testing profitable as well as climate resilient horticultural crops as well as for the development of positive group dynamics and women social capital.

Sharing knowledge on how to reduce soil and nutrient losses from crop land, increase carbon and tree cover on-farm

The farmers in both Vihiga and Kisumu counties where the project was implemented were trained on various land management practices such as soil and water conservation i.e. terracing, rain water harvesting and water holes, kitchen gardening, composting to deal with this problem.

A total of 3150 farmers in Kisumu, Nyando sub county and 3000 farmers in Vihiga, Sabatia sub county were engaged in the implementation of integrated soil fertility and conservation practices involving Napier, Calliandra and mango. Napier was sourced from KALRO Kakamega while Calliandra spp seedlings were sourced from ICRAF, Kisumu. Both Napier and Calliandra were planted as buffer strips, as hedge rows and along terraces to stabilize the terraces. Cut off drains and tied ridges were established in farmers’ fields. Mango tree seedlings (Ngowe, Apple and Tommy Atkinson) were sourced from KALRO Perkerra and distributed to interested farmers most of whom had prepared holes and were ready to plant the seedlings.

Multipurpose Calliandra species were introduced in both Vihiga and Kisumu counties to reinforce banks of terraces, improve soil fertility as well as provide quality fodder as an alternative source of livestock feed to communal grazing. In Kisumu county, a total of 8,350 Calliandra seedlings were purchased from a Nyando farmer group and were availed to farmers (those with and without terraces) on their farms at a Chief’s camp in Omuonyole.

Farmers were also trained on agronomic measures which included soil surface cover, increased soil surface roughness, increasing surface depression storage and increasing infiltration. Soil management measures included application of fertilizers, manures, sub-soiling and drainage while mechanical measures included, contouring, ridging, terraces and waterways. In Nyando sub county, the “lay-out” of terraces was carried out in the following five villages: Kobiero, Kamango, Obinju, Kamwana, Kamula

Establishment of Farmer Field Schools – FFS

Knowledge sharing is one of the important aspects which help rural farmers increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. SANREM used the following two ways to teach and share knowledge with farmers in Lower Nyando region of Kisumu county and Sabatia sub county of Vihiga county.

Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) shows

In August 2015, women from Nyando in Kisumu county and Sabatia from Vihiga county were invited to the climate-smart agriculture training, held during the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) Show in Kisumu. Over 3200 women were trained on climate-smart agricultural practices, how to combat weeds and pests and how to grow vegetables. The main aim of the sessions was to expose the farmers to options that would improve their adaptive capacity, improve their understanding of appropriate agricultural practices and tools, and to link them up with financial institutions and insurance schemes. The farmers were also introduced to E-extension services which they could use to access information on improved seed varieties and how to combat pests and diseases.

Farmers learning events

In the Lower Nyando region of western Kenya, the increasing frequency of droughts, floods, unpredictable rainfall and temperature variations are affecting farmers and their food security – hard. A total of 3039 farmers within the area are testing a number of promising climate-proofing activities that can increase their resilience and ability to adapt. Nyando has a mixed rain fed crop-livestock subsistence farming system. A baseline household survey revealed that up to 17% of households are not able to meet their food needs for 3-4 months in a year. However, innovative farmers get the chance to show off their activities to their neighbours. This ‘learning event’, give more than 3000 farmers the experience to learn about new farming practices – happening in real time.

 

Expectations for the whole year

a)      Green Food innovation activities for adaptation to climate change involved:

  • Helping farmers in understanding how to improve land management practices and incorporating fruit trees to improve nutrition and enhance the soil organic matter content. A total of 10,000 fruit trees and 85,000 tissue culture banana seedlings were introduced within the project period
  • Promoting and facilitating commercial horticulture targeting the urban centers and market areas in Kisumu city, Mbale town, Eldoret and Kakamega towns by targeting farmers to produce horticultural crops like kales, cabbages, capsicum, hot pepper, tomatoes, onions and other crops
  • Through farmer groups in both Vihiga and Kisumu counties, learning and practicing new ways of producing, treating and storing seeds on-farm. Ten acres of community land was used for open source seed bulking.

b)     Open Society Capacity building through Women Empowerment:

  • Partnering with seed suppliers to build capacity for women and youth farmer led demonstration gardens that were used as learning sites for climate smart practices.

c)      In order to mitigate climate change, farmers and their tree nursery management groups were supposed to continue:

  • Sharing knowledge on how to reduce soil and nutrient losses from crop land, increase carbon and tree cover on-farm while managing 15 horticultural nurseries which was initiated by SANREM.
  • SANREM led the process of establishing ‘Farmer Field Schools – FFS” to build the capacity of community based organizations and farmer households on enhanced horticultural practises. More than 3,000 farmer households in Kisumu and Vihiga counties were successfully targeted in the process.

Outreach

The number of direct beneficiaries/participants in the project was as follows:

Until now up to 3,500 farmers in Kisumu county and 3000 farmers in Vihiga county have benefitted from the project implementation activities. Expectation for the whole year was 5000 farmers benefitting from project implementation activities. 2000 men and 4500 women have so far benefitted from the project implementation activities.

Main Changes in SANREM Organization as a result of the project

The achievements of the Nyando and Sabatia projects in the counties of Kisumu and Vihiga were as a result of professional mainstreaming within SANREM. We appointed a team of trained personnel who were actively engaged in all sectors of the project. This included a female gender mainstreaming professionals and a climate smart agriculture specialists who were based in Nyando and Sabatia through the project lifespan. More SANREM staff training and capacity building was done by experts especially in data management, analysis and interpretation. This promoted proficiency of the staffs in the use of research softwares and models as tools for producing quality research outputs.