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. One of these, the marginalization of smallholder farmers’ rights, practices and knowledge 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 through reducing emissions and capturing carbon. Here, soil organic carbon sequestration (enhanced sinks) are the most effective mechanism.
A shift towards organic farming techniques also enable food sustainability and provide 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 agroecological programme.
These farmer groups have implemented a series of organic production practices that optimizes nutrients, energy flows and minimizes supply chain risks during adverse and extreme weather events.
On a granular level, by increasing soil biological activity, we maintain long-term soil fertility and minimize the use of non-renewable resources, which leads to enhanced biological diversity and vital ecosystem improvements across their locality.
In addition, farmer groups experience significant economic gains through improvements in safe crop production systems, food security, family nutrition, health and education within their households.
Application of organic manures
With no external farm inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers 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 minimize emissions of greenhouse gases through composting and fermentation of bio-fertilizers.
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 to many maize growing regions up to date.
This has forced most farmers to apply chemical pesticides where worms become more resistant and due to misinformation on its use, overdosing leads to burnt crops.
In response, our programme puts into practice the production of bio-fertilizers 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, which was later named “LIMSA-B” were prepared for trial. A total of 55 maize farmers whose farms were highly infested by the worms from 3 locations were reached during the trials. Within a period of a week, more and more farmers started to request for more bio-pesticides for their farms.
The reported feedback during the first trial included; reduced attack by worms, increased growth rate of crops and controlled crop leaves discolorations associated with crop mineral deficiencies.
The program took good note of these feedbacks 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 increasing crop yields, improving soil quality, water efficiency and controlling pests which in turn helps to improve farms’ adaptive capacity especially with climate shifts.
The final product, aptly named “BIO-COMBINED” was by far the farmers best option and environment friendly.
Since our trials, this knowledge has reached over 200 farmers and students from colleges and universities attached to CREP.
Our next milestone is to get the national agricultural policy to support these climate smart, organic farming practices as an adaptation and mitigation strategy.
Only by stepping up this agenda of change to the national level, can we significantly contribute to achieving the SDGs in an integrated, comprehensive and holistic manner making the Kenya’s Big Four & Climate Action Agenda 2030 real and valid.
Geoffrey Omondi, Crep Programme (TreeKenya Parnters)
Photo: Hailey Tucker