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Farmers Demand Government To Invest In Ecological Farming.

A group of 30 small-scale farmers have faulted the government in what they called ‘skewed’ support that it has accorded industrial agriculture and which they describe as a fatally flawed agricultural model that places them in a cycle of debt as well as reliance on harmful and expensive chemicals and seeds.

Speaking on Tuesday from Thika as they set off on a 4-day resilience journey that will see them engage county leaders and Kenyans on the ideal agricultural system that they envision for Kenya and the continent, the farmers resolved to support each other. They will make stops in Machakos, Makueni and Nairobi counties with a clear message ahead of World Food Day.

With support from The Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC), Greenpeace Africa, The Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), the Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE) and The Kenya Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (KSSF), the farmers will use this resilience journey to showcase and prove the benefits of ecological farming.

“We, as farmers and consumers from around Kenya, call upon the Government of Kenya and International aid donors to listen to our demands, to move away from conventional agriculture and support ecological farming. Conventional agriculture has failed us and will continue to do so as climate change worsens….” read in part a demand letter written by Kenyan smallholder farmers to the local governments of Kenya and International Aid Donors in Kenya.

The farmers are sure that the solution to address hunger in Kenya lies within the country’s borders. With the right support, they can feed Kenyans with healthy, nutritious food that is grown ecologically. Ecological farming is not a new practice; it combines local farmers’ knowledge with the most recent scientific knowledge to create new technologies and practices that increase yields without negatively impacting the environment and some of our smallholder farmers are already practising it by building on the traditional agriculture methods based on local landraces and knowledge.

“The farmers’ appeal comes at a very critical time, the current food system is broken, the environment is damaged and the current industrial agricultural model has left thousands hungry and dependent on technologies that are unable to withstand weather shocks and lined the pockets of a few corporates,” states Greenpeace Africa’s senior Food for Life campaign manager, Nokutula Mhene.

The effects of climate change are starting to bite; the Kenya meteorological services have warned that La Niña is near meaning that many parts of Kenya will experience depressed rains in 2016. There is an urgent need to support smallholder family farmers to practice ecological farming through access to irrigation and access to affordable organic inputs and protection of local farmers against middlemen exploitation. The future, states Anne Maina from KBioC, “is in practicing agroecology and not synthetic chemical driven farming.”

Ecological farming is a bouquet of techniques to produce environmentally-sustainable and healthy food for local people. It is a proven “agricultural production method that has at its core resilience, equitability, food sovereignty, and environmental sustainability. We call upon Governments and Donors to put in place mechanisms that allow for a paradigm shift towards ecological farming,” says Greenpeace Africa’s Executive Director, Njeri Kabeberi.

At the end of the journey, the farmers plan to hand over a letter to International aid agencies in Nairobi, outlining priority areas in the agricultural sector that agencies should invest in.

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