Conservation Agriculture Easier on Aging Farmers
Joseph joined a Farmer Field School despite other men saying it was “a waste of time.” He ended up mulching a small piece of land just to please the staff. And then …
“I never at all believed in this,” he admits, but his mulched maize remained green even when the rains stopped. When he harvested maize from the plot without putting much effort into it – no digging or weeding – he was won over.
Joseph’s farm is constantly improving as he adopts more Conservation Agriculture practices. He finds they lessen the burden of work on him as he ages, even as his productivity goes up. This year, he harvested 1,765 lbs. of maize and 1,102 lbs. of beans from the 1.5-acres of zai pits he sowed them in. After learning about post-harvest management, he built a new grain storage shed to reduce losses from pests and weather.
He’s diversifying his fields to include cassava, millet, sweet potatoes, mung bean and cowpeas; producing kale, amaranth and onion in a new kitchen garden; and expecting to harvest papaya, mango, avocado and passion fruit from his newly-planted trees in the next couple of years.
“I couldn’t have imagined I’d be growing fruit in my old age,” he reports, never in his life having seen anyone nurturing native fruit trees. When he was a boy, people only collected fruit from the forest. A newly-dug farm pond helps him keep his orchard watered against encroaching drought. He’s also been rearing chickens, and has 10 local goats and sheep now. In addition to eggs, meat and milk, the animals provide an income, and manure for fertilizer.
Says Joseph with conviction, “Sure enough, knowledge is power, just like they say.’’ Even though he didn’t believe it at first.
Kenya Igembe Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner Anglican Development Services – Mt. Kenya East