off for Nairobi farmers
is among countries in the world where
awareness on lifestyle diseases has increased
tremendously in the last ten years
REPORT BY XINHUA CORRESPONDENT
(Xinhua) -- For
nearly four years, Sally Niaisiae, an elderly mother
of six does not remember making a trip to the local
market to buy vegetables as she did before.
she is sought after by vegetable vendors seeking
organically grown supplies to the fresh food market at
four years ago, Niaisiae was regular at the local
market, buying vegetables and other fresh food. Living
in peri-urban area, the land left after putting up her
house could not produce enough food to feed the
family, or so she thought.
in 2008, non profit organisation, Kenya Institute of
Organic Farming (KIOF) officials happened to visit
Kiserian to sell organic farming concept to farmers
struck me about the whole idea of organic farming is
that with my little farm space, I could grow enough
food to feed my family and supply to the market. And
that is without the use of synthetic fertilizers,
pesticides and herbicides that are expensive these
days,” she said.
a few of us started the training because others
wanted to see if it really works. Most of the people
around here have small plots that produced just
enough to feed the family and were therefore
skeptical on how new farming methodology would
enable them produce food enough to generate income.
But with evidence of harvests, more farmers here got
we are about 100 organic farmers in a radius of
about seven kilometers. We are able to supply the
local food market with enough produce and sell to
other markets unlike before when market vendors had
to travel to the wholesale fresh food market in the
city,” she said.
is a member of Ngong Organic Farmers Association, an
umbrella community based organization (CBO) for small
scale organic food farmers based at Kiserian, a
sprawling peri-urban area about 30 km southwest of the
is also the Chairperson of the Olonana Group, one of
the six small welfare organic farming groups that
combined to form the association.
impact of the 100 or so farmers in this area may not
be felt until one visits the local market food market.
the Kiserian market, fresh food vendors interviewed
spoke how popular organic grown vegetable, tubers and
corn or organically raised chicken and rabbits.
of the fact that the organic farming does not follow
rainfall cycles but rather farmers use simple
irrigation methods, the farmers have been able to
ensure a constant fresh food supply not only to the
local market but also other markets like Karen
Shopping Center where the farmers supply every
Saturday throughout the year and the growing pool of
large scale buyers especially those operating
restaurants specializing in organic food in the
case of Jennifer Kigunda, an organic farmer
representing Puan Group is more illustrative of the
transformation that organic farming has had.
one acre land is divided into several portions,
growing maize, various vegetables, and different
potatoes varieties. Previously she would only grow
maize and beans –the two most popular food crops
with subsistence farmers in Kenya mainly grown using
conventional farming methods.
would harvest on average six 90-kg bags of maize
from the farm and on average three bags of beans,”
she said. With her small family, she prefers to sell
most of the harvest, fetching around 400 U.S.
dollars per season, meaning she would make on
average double that amount per year from the sale of
since the change to organic farming, Kigunda’s
family income has increased tremendously as the sale
of organic food from her farm brings in on averaged,
200 dollars per a three month season meaning that in a
year, she now makes at least 3,600 dollars a year from
her one acre farm, a 450 percent increase.
have a ready market for organic foods and we get a
premium price for it at the market. What else would
a farmer look for?” she asked.
divide their plots growing different crops allowing
crop rotation and ensuring constant supply of fresh
produce as they mature at different times.
is among countries in the world where awareness on
lifestyle diseases has increased tremendously in the
last ten years partly because of improved diagnostics
and availability of data indicating the number of
deaths resulting from lifestyle diseases.
one of the preventive measures, more Kenyans are
choosing to eat healthy diet, preferring foods with
less chemical and more natural, thus increasing the
demand for organic foods.
the key beneficiaries of this awareness is Jamlek
Wagondu, also a member of the Ngong Organic Farmers
Association. He is a specialty farmer in tomato. Two
years ago, he decided to start exclusively growing
of all, I do not have to spend on the expensive
pesticides which were contributing 70 percent of my
costs. Then, these tomatoes have a ready market.
Some of my customers even come to supervise if I
follow organic model. I no longer have to sell to
the main market in Nairobi through brokers and this
means I fetch a much higher price, sometimes even
three times the cost of comparable quantity of
conventionally grown tomatoes,” said Wagondu.
have since concentrated on farming organic tomatoes
because the earnings are enough to sustain my family
including paying for the education of my four
children,” he added.
Organic Farmers Association traces its roots to the
year 2004 when the current chairman of the association
Peter Melonye and friends decided to visit Nairobi
International Trade Fair to learn some of the new
Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF) that
pioneered expanded training and education in organic
agriculture had an exhibition stand that Melonye and
his friends got interested to visit.
did they know that they had just triggered an organic
farming revolution that has now become one of the main
economic activities for small scale farmers in Ngong.
is perhaps the clearest manifestation of the strides
small scale farmers with thirst for knowledge and the
drive to put this knowledge to practice can achieve.
farm is a case study on integrated sustainable farming
where every drop of livestock waste, felled branch and
leaves, and other farm waste finds productive use.
he has not achieved it yet, he is working towards
ensuring his farm is fully organic; from the crops to
he does half an acre of largely organic horticulture.
All of his tens of chicken are also organic. He is
working to ensure the cows and goats are organically
his farm, he has overcome the challenge of water
shortage with a system of harvesting rain water using
the gutters that feed to his underground water
reservoir that can provide water for his household use
for one year.
runs a drip irrigation system and when he uses the
same water for the irrigation, it can take him four
months, a big achievement considering the practice of
rainwater harvesting is not very popular among Kenyan
small scale farmers despite water shortages
experienced in most parts of the country.
home kitchen runs on biogas that is generated using
livestock waste. He does not use firewood whatsoever.
grass that naturally grows in his farms, plus farm
waste like maize stalks are pressed to make hay barns
that can be stored for up to two years. In his
granary, there are three metal silos that can hold 450
kg of maize each.
maize can be stored there for two years without adding
any chemicals. The silos use the vacuum concept to
keep the maize dry.
this measure, Melonye has been able to cut his post
harvest maize losses to zero. He sells the maize when
the prices are high or just keeps it to feed the
his backyard, he has started making briquettes; made
from waster paper and charcoal dust mixture that is
put water and then pressed into various shapes and
then dried in the sun.
the pieces are sold to the local community. The
briquettes burn slowly but produced more heat that
charcoal. The help households avoid use of charcoal
and firewood. They are also more affordable.
of the 100 members of Ngong Organic Farmers
Association, 70 are women. “The reason is that
women are more interested in organic farming because
its benefits are a sort of empowerment for us,”
instance, women are happy that with the fact that with
just a small size of land, organic farming is able to
generate attractive revenue.
size also means that women, who provide 80 percent of
farm labor in Sub-Sahara Africa, and do not have to
sweat a lot on tilling the land.
money generated is actually enough to employ a
temporally farmhand, therefore creating another income
a woman is engaged in organic farming, she is
liberated from borrowing money from the spouse or
relatives. The family is also well fed,” said
Carol Njema, the representative of Acacia Group,
also an affiliate of the Ngong Organic Farmers
area where the farmers operate does not receive much
rainfall and has been classified as a semi arid area.
change effects has further dropped the amount of
rainfall the area receives, to below the annual
average of 500 mm according to data from the Kenya
said lack of adequate water is the main challenge to
expanding the size of the farm they used in practicing
farmers were closer to each other, we can do a
communal borehole by contributing to the cost, but
this is not the case. What we are not happy about is
that the demand for organic food is so high, yet we
are not able to meet it just because of water
shortage. The money that we could have made from
higher sales from more production is then lost,”
sees a long term solution for the group is buying a
communal farm and developing water access systems
within that land. The groups also plan to adapt drip
irrigation system that uses minimal water.
said they also face a problem of accessing certified
organic seeds that are only available through a few
outlets. While farmers said they have been trained to
develop homemade pesticides, it is not effective on
some pests yet very few agro-dealers sell recommended
pesticides and when available, they are highly
pest problem is becoming bigger because of the
movement of pests from conventional farmers to organic
organic farming is not a yet mass practice in Ngong,
most farmers are very likely to border conventional
farms facilitating the transfer of pests and crop
organic farmers are certified through a process known
as Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), based on
East African Organic Products Standard requirement and
the group internal procedures modeled as a peer review
Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
which is the only international umbrella organization
for organic farming initiatives defines PGS as locally
focused quality assurance systems that verify
producers based on active participation of
stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust,
social networks and knowledge exchange.
customers of the organic produce are involved through
inspection of the farming processes practiced by
supplier farmers, said Jack Juma of the Kenya Organic
Agriculture Network (KOAN), one of the non-profit
organizations that coordinates organic farming in
a farmer has a particular market that specifically
demand third party certification, they apply for
certification from authorized certifying companies
like Encert, Nesvax Control,
Soil Association, and Ceres among others.
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