by Bedah Mengo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- When the long
rainy season started over a week ago in Kenya, farmer Seth Mutua
rushed to plant maize - the country’s staple.
unlike in the previous years, Mutua has not planted on his
entire one-and-half-acre farm the cereal crop.
The maize sits on three-quarter acre, with the rest hosting
bananas, a variety of vegetables, mango, avocado and pawpaw
trees and tomatoes.
He also keeps 200 chickens, some 10 dairy goats and grows
trees on the edges of the farm.
The farmer is among tens of others, both small and
large-scale, in the east African who have adopted mixed farming
practice as a way to beat unpredictable weather, one of the
effects of climate change Kenya is currently grappling with.
"I planted the fruits about three years ago and I don’t
regret because they offer me income especially when the weather
is unfavorable," said Mutua on Saturday.
A few weeks ago, when a majority of Kenyan farmers were
desperately waiting for the rains, which delayed for over a
month, Mutua who farms in Athi River on the outskirts of Nairobi
was selling avocados and bananas.
"I grow the Fuerte avocado variety whose harvesting season
starts in March. I harvested about a tonne and sold each at 4
shilling (0.05 U.S. dollars).
The farmer also made more income from poultry and dairy
goats, enabling him to have money at a time when the dryspell
Mixed farming is defined as a system where one engages in
different agricultural practices, with an aim of increasing
income and maximizing land use.
However, while these have been the traditional benefits of
the practice, the changing weather pattern has given new meaning
to the model of farming as it helps farmers overcome the effects
of harsh climate.
"It is no longer feasible to rely on one crop all-year-round
as it has been in the past because the rains are unpredictable
which calls for farmers to engage in climate-smart practices,"
said Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro-consultancy.
"Besides the higher income, with mixed farming, a farmer
cannot rely on inorganic fertilizers because they have manure
|This helps protect the land and rivers from pollution," she
Macharia noted they are currently encouraging farmers to
embrace mixed farming, especially by growing drought-resistant
and early-maturing crops like cassava alongside the others they
are used to like maize.
"With mixed farming you are assured of income whether it
rains or shines because if the rains fail, you still make money
from poultry or goats.
|Even for farmers with small pieces of land, they can farm in
greenhouses and still keep goats or chickens on the parcels
building climate resilience," she noted.
William Koros, a farmer in Trans Nzoia County, western Kenya,
who runs a large-scale mixed farm, said the practice gives him
an edge in the market.
Besides growing maize, beans, tomatoes and vegetables, he
also keeps 300 cows and 200 goats.
"I sell my produce throughout the year.
|I start by selling cabbages, tomatoes, potatoes and onions
from April to July then move to harvesting maize thereafter from
August," he said.