Organic Farmers and Sustainable Crop Care in Muvuti, Machakos and Gatundu North, Kiambu
Africa Initiative for Rural Development (AIRD) was invited by Fahamu, an NGO focusing in social justice to speak during the reflection session of small scale organic farmers otherwise known as Tafakari.
We visited 2 places during the Tafakari sessions; Muvuti in Machakos at the end of April and Gatundu North in the beginning of May. AIRD’s Sustainable Livelihood Advisor, Odin Olaya shared information and technical knowledge to the organic farmers particularly on Agroecology. Technical knowledge that were shared include soil profiling, addressing the correct and incorrect farming practice according to the type of soil in both Machakos and Gatundu. Odin used his farming experience in his native Philippines as reference.
What the Farmers Learnt
The farmers learned something interesting which is farmers in the Philippines are very much appreciated so much so they have representatives in the Philippines’ parliament, creating a movement of their own.
From the consumer’s perspective, AIRD’s Communications Strategy Advisor, Dinka Basuki elaborated on how growing crops can be marketable through culinary culture taking an example of different type of foods in Indonesia and how culinary culture also contributes to the country’s GDP through tourism. Dinka also demonstrated to the organic farmers how to utilize their crops sustainably using local ingredients from the farmers’ shamba that are still foreign to many, such as banana heart and sweet potato leaves through recipe and food tasting.
Both AIRD and Fahamu took the opportunity in advocating youth engagement in the agriculture sector because many of the farmers have expressed concern regarding lack of interest amongst Kenyan youth in the agriculture sector, that youth view farming as a form of punishment rather than something beneficial and that they’d rather be in a suit-and-tie job in Nairobi.
The Objective of the Training
Hence during the Tafakari session in Gatundu North, one of the guest speakers was a youth urban farmer from Mathare named Ojiem who shared about his experience as an urban farmer along with other youths, and the crops they grow and sell which proved to be inspiring as there is hope for agriculture to be instilled in the mind of Kenyan youth, let alone youths from the city.
The objective of the Tafakari is for farmers to understand how to sustainably care for the crops and ensuring they are using the proper methods to farm. The facts that are found from the Tafakari sessions both in Machakos and Gatundu North is that organic farming is a choice, it is a lifestyle option and attitude change one needs to adapt and it is not just a matter of using zero fertilizers. Organic farming can take a lot of time and expenditures hence the best option is for each farmers to review their situation both financially and agriculturally to see whether or not they are prepared to practice organically.