by Bedah Mengo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- For many years,
small-scale farmer Japheth Kilome has been growing crops using
animal manure, which is readily available from his three head of
cattle and some goats.
The farmer, who is based in
Machakos on the east of the capital Nairobi, has been scooping
the dung from the cowshed and applying it on bananas, tomatoes
and vegetables that he grows on part of his one-acre farm.
While Kilome farms the crops and keeps livestock for his
subsistence, he sells the surplus produce at a nearby market.
The mode of farming is shared by thousands of small-scale
farmers across the east African nation, many who cannot afford
inorganic fertilizers or who buy them in smaller quantities,
therefore, have to supplement with organic manure.
Over the years, this has been the standard practice but the
government is seeking to change this if farmers like Kilome are
to sell their produce internationally.
The government, through the agriculture ministry, is working
on regulations that outlaw the use of non-composted organic
manure to grow crops, as many farmers in the east African nation
The law named Crops Act 2018 criminalizes use of raw animal
manure for the production of food crops, with those breaking it
facing up to 10 million shillings (100,000 U.S. dollar) fine.
The regulations also prohibit farmers from growing crops near
cattle sheds, garbage disposal and industrial waste sites and
"These laws may push many out of farming because most people
are mixed farmers.
"We keep cattle or poultry and grow crops using manure," said
Kilome on Thursday.
However, agriculture principal secretary Hamadi Boga noted
that the laws would not only ensure farmers grow crops that are
safe for local consumption but also for the international
"It is time a majority of small farmers grow crops that
complies with international food safety standards. Who wants to
eat salad that is contaminated because it was grown with animal
manure that was not well-composted?" he posed.
Boga said that a lot of food currently grown in Kenya cannot
meet international standards because most farmers do not observe
"We cannot use raw manure and hope to sell our food
"If we are eyeing the global market, then farmers have to
abandon some of these practices," he said.
According to him, raw manure must be composted for months for
it to be ready for growing safe food.
"The government will not relent on the regulations which are
meant to guarantee food safety and to ensure that the country’s
agricultural produce is highly marketable outside our borders,"
Kenya Plant and Health Inspectorate chief executive Esther
Kimani reckoned that most farmers in Kenya have not stopped
growing crops using cultural practices handed over from one
generation to another.
"Small farmers must approach farming as a business and not as
a cultural practice where manure is used without regard to food
Besides using quality manure and inorganic fertilizers,
farmers must also embrace hybrid seed, and irrigation to stop
reliance on rainfall," she said.