Agricultural lands cover more than 1/3 of Earth’s land surface and account for an estimated 20% of all CO2eq emissions from human activities. (FAO, 2017)
Today several social, environmental and economic constraints threaten the resource base that agriculture depends on. In particular, the marginalisation of smallholder farmers’ rights, practices and knowledge which hinder sustainable food production systems and widen vulnerability levels amongst local communities.
Research shows that regenerative agricultural systems have the potential to curb climate change by reducing emissions and capturing carbon. Here, soil organic carbon sequestration, an enhanced carbon sink is the most effective mechanism.
A shift towards organic farming techniques enables food sustainability and provides a set of farmer friendly solutions for climate resilience.
As a programme officer at CREP, a Kenyan agricultural and environmental conservation NGO, we have spent the last 6 years empowering community farmer groups in North East Kano through our agro-ecological programmes.
Our farming groups implement a series of organic production practices that optimise nutrients, energy flows and minimises supply chain risks during adverse and extreme weather events.
On a granular level, by increasing soil biological activity, we are able to maintain long-term soil fertility and minimise the use of non-renewable resources leading to enhanced biological diversity and vital ecosystem improvements in the local communities.
In addition, farmer groups experience significant economic gains through advances in safe crop production systems, food security, family nutrition, health and education within their households.
Application of organics
With no external farm inputs, such as synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, we are able to control carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions.
Farmers use organic manures through integrated livestock production which enhance waste management systems and minimise emissions of greenhouse gases through composting and fermentation of bio-fertilisers.
For the last few years, most small holder farmers within the project areas have been grappling with the fight against crop devastating worm (fall army worms) which have spread in many maize growing regions.
This has forced numerous farmers to apply chemical pesticides with adverse effects including more resistant worms and burnt crops.
In response, our programme puts into practice the production of bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides to tackle the challenges faced by farmers in a sustainable way.
In 2018, during the short rainy season 40 litres of sulphur brew, later named “LIMSA-B” were prepared for trial. A total of 55 maize farmers experiencing high worm infestations in 3 regions were targeted. The results were very impressive with reduced worms, increased growth rate of crops and neighbouring farmers requesting bio-pesticides for their farms.
Our programme took good note and in 2019, during the long rainy season we prepared and mixed 60 litres of the same bio-pesticide and 100 litres of Super Magro (foliar feed) for over 80 farmers.
We soon witnessed small plots drastically improving crop yields, soil quality, water efficiency and controlling pests, as they adapt to climate shifts.
The final product, aptly named “BIO-COMBINED” is by far the farmers' best option and is 100% environmentally friendly.
Since our trials, the product has reached over 200 farmers and students from colleges & universities related to CREP.
Our next milestone is to get the national agricultural policy to support these climate smart, organic farming practices as part of their climate adaptation and mitigation strategy.
Only by stepping up this agenda of change to the national level, are we able to seriously contribute to achieving the SDGs, Kenya’s Big Four Agenda & Climate Action Agenda 2030 in an integrated and comprehensive manner.
Geoffrey Omondi, Crep Programme (TreeKenya Parnters)
Photo: Hailey Tucker
Organics are produced and processed through a system that encourages biological natural cycles, allowing farm animals to exhibit natural behaviour, whilst excluding the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilisers, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms.
Why do we support organic agriculture?
Well, it’s easy to manage and cheap. The fertiliser and pesticide products are chemical free using locally available, organic materials that do not interfere with the soil and environment.
We like to follow 4 simple, organic principles:
Organic agriculture is geared towards achieving health in plants, animals, human beings and the whole planet. Holistic approaches to health are best achieved when the individuals health is embedded in the ecosystem. In human health we think in-terms of social, mental, physical and ecological well being exhibited in immunity, resilience and regeneration.
It follows that our harvest should fit the cycles and ecological balances in nature. Ecological balance can be attained through the design of farming systems, establishment of habitats and maintenance of genetic and agriculture diversity.
Organic agriculture is based on living ecological systems and cycles. These systems are the living soil, farm ecosystem, and aquatic ecosystem. Inputs should be reduced by reuse, recycling and efficient management.
Animals should be provided with the conditions and opportunities of life that accord with their physiology, natural behaviour and wellbeing. Natural and environmental resources that are sued for production and consumption should be managed in such a way that is socially and ecologically just and should be held in trust for future generations.
Fairness is cultivated through equity, respect, justice and stewardship of shared world, both among people and in relations to other living things. The relationship cultivated should ensure fairness in all levels and to all parties: farmers, workers, processors, distributors, traders and consumers.
Now back to our beans. They were planted using animal manure, sprayed with plant extracts with traps for any insects which might interfere with the produce.
This way the beans are produced in a healthy manner optimising microorganisms in the soil with care to eliminate chemical residues.
Our farmer managed to produce 10 bags each 90kgs within a half acre to feed her family and sell the surplus locally to improve food security and fairness in the community.
Regina Muthama, Katoloni Missions (TreeKenya Parnters)