Canada to spend KES. 14b to mitigate drought in 5 counties.

Canadian high commissioner Mr. Luke Myers (Left), President of Canadian food grains bank Mr. James Cornelius, ACK Bishop of Mt. Kenya Central Rev. Timothy Gichere together with Canadian delegation and farmers at Kambirwa village of Gikindu location in Murang’a County where the team had toured a conservation agriculture project sponsored by the Canadian government through the Anglican Development Services (ADs)
Canadian Government, in partnership with the Anglican Development Services (ADS), which is the development arm for the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Mt. Kenya Diocese, has set aside USD. 14 million (KES. 14 billion) to introduce an alternative methods of farming that help in stabilising yields and improve production over the long term.

They are now introducing conservative agriculture (CA) to the farmers as a way of mitigating drought in the semi-arid areas, targeting over 50,000 farmers in five counties in Kenya and some parts of Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Speaking during an inspection tour of a CA project in Kambirwa village of Kiharu constituency in Murang'a County, Canadian High Commissioner Luke Myers said that their government supported the initiative as part of the Canadian food grans bank programme meant to alleviate hunger in semi-arid regions.

He was satisfied in the progress made so far, adding that his delegation to Murang’a presented him with a great opportunity to interact with the farmers and see first-hand the results of their interventions.

He expressed his joy to see farmers realising increased yield and quality harvest even with the prolonged dry drought.

President of Canadian Food Grains Bank Mr. James Cornelius, who had accompanied the high commissioner said that the Canadian Government had pledged to continue funding them for next five years so as to ensure the programme was sustained.

“This programme is being rolled out in Machakos, Makueni, Nakuru, Busia and Murang’a,” explained Cornelius.

ADS training officer in charge of Gikindu area Mr. Godfrey Githinji said that they were is targeting 3,000 farmers within the county, distributed in three different semi-arid areas of Gikindu, Makuyu and Ithanga. He added that, with the help of the Murang’a Agricultural Livelihood Improvement Project (MALI), each of these area would benefit 1, 000 farmers.

“Continuous tilling of land destroys soil health status hence the observation of minimum tillage. We have therefore been training Gikindu farmers on the three principles of conservation agriculture, namely; no digging, maintaining the soil covered and crop rotation in good agronomic practices,” said Githinji.

He advised farmers to always weed their shamba by slashing the weeds and planting with precision using a planting rope. He also suggested the use of domestic ash, organic manure, fertilisers as well as mulching so as to guarantee good soil cover.

Githinji asserted that CA was the key to food security not only in Murang’a’s semi-arid areas but also in Kenya at large.

“With conservative agriculture, a portion of land measuring 20 by 15 meters can produce about three bags of maize in 300 square meters of land,” said Githinji.

The Bishop-elect for Mt. Kenya Diocese of the ACK Rev. Timothy Gichere acknowledged that the ADS would spread its wings on CA and upscale the program to other dioceses. He thanked the Canadian government for the initiative, pointing out that he had observe positive signs in the programme.

Susan Wanja and Josephine Nduta, both beneficiaries of the programme, could not hide their joy as they narrated their experiences with this new method of farming.

“We use less labour due to mulching which also help to guard our crops against severe weather conditions. Compared to what we were practicing previously, we are now anticipating to earn better yields. The difference is so conspicuous,” explained Wanja.

Wanja confessed that she had never had it easy time with her farm the way she had with this new method.

“You cannot compare my farm with those of my neighbours who are still using the traditional tilling methods. In fact, I have ended up being a trainer on conservation agriculture where farmers have been trickling to my farm for training,” she added.

Conservative agriculture method of farming that encourages less tilling of land. Instead of hoeing the soil, the farmer leaves the dried stalks and leaves from the previous crop on the surface. They plant seed directly through this mulch.

Conservative agriculture guarantees less work and higher yields while reducing production costs, maintaining the soil fertility and conserving water. This makes the farmer more independent and a confident member of the community
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