An Overview Of Our Solution
- Population Impacted
- Continent: Africa
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose
Local threats to resources
Level of sensitivity
Level of adaptive capacity
Improved food security: Conservation Agriculture (Conservation Tillage) (CA) in Makueni County for the improvement of food security in the region? Conservation tillage is a water and soil conservation technique that enables farmers in areas of low rainfall to grow crops that enables farmers to conserve soil and moisture. Prior to the introduction of the technology, CETRAD carried out a research through a PHD program to ascertain the benefits of the technology. After which the study showed a remarkable improvement of soils especially on fertility and moisture conservation capacity. Also crop yields triples in minimum tilled farms. This was followed by on farm trials for a period of 6 seasons carried out by farmers. The solution entails three principles namely minimum soil disturbance through sub soiling or ripping of soils, Permanent soil cover through soil mulching or use of cover crops, and promoting crop rotation. Also, the project provided simple oxen drawn equipment such as sub-soilers, rippers and jab planters. The project also promoted growth of drought escaping crops such as dolichos lablab, cow peas, pigeon peas and green grams. In terms of improved food security, the project guarantees crop harvest even during severe drought. The household will have food available and accessible with CA practice as opposed to conventional farming.
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit
-Biomass measurement -soil test -Count on the number of diversity index
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit
- acquisition of tools [sub sailers, jab planters and rippers (4,850$)] -Training of farmers, exchange visits to other projects areas -Training materials
- Increased crops yields (from as low as 180kg of maize per acre to 900kg/acre - Higher incomes for farmers Reduced reliance to relief food
Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit
- Projects records - data from farmers at the end of the season
What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?
-High cot and lack of Conservation agriculture equipment such as sub-sailer, rippers, plough beams, jab-planters- The project provided tools to twenty groups out of the over forty interested groups. - Weed management- Encouraged farmers to carry out shallow weeding using scrapping tools. - Traditional perceptions towards new technology-solved by a rigorous capacity building through training, exchange visits to other farmers in other regions and farmers? led demonstration.
Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used
CETRAD commissioned a study on the best farming approaches in the ASALs in 2005. The study completed in the ASALS revealed that conservation tillage (CT} and the broader conservation agriculture (CA) technologies have a great potential for improving crop production and ensuring food security of the small-scale farmers in dry lands environment without compromising the long-term sustainability of soil and water resources (Njeru, 2005). This was followed by a farmer led research that showed that farmers can improve on crop production by up to three times as opposed to conventional farming, as well as cut cost of production by the same margin. Socio economic profile of the project area was also carried out and it showed that 33% of the population is completely food insecure with 27% slightly food insecure. The survey showed that crop production in the area is very low as compared to national average. (CETRAD, 2003) In 2003, a survey was also carried out on the impacts of the 1999-2000 droughts on households in Makueni district. The study looked at the households' vulnerability and their coping strategies during this period of drought. This study, invoked CETRAD to look for a solution in terms of a good technology that can assist farmers adopt to the recurrent drought in the region. Project feasibility study was carried out in the project area to identify suitable areas of interest. 30 existing groups were interviewed during this exercise. Among self help groups interviewed is a group known as Kilili disabled self help group that houses households that have physically and mentally challenged members and a rescue centre for the disadvantaged and vulnerable persons in the community. In 2008, CETRAD started implementation of the project, in Makueni County. Initially the project focused on Kathonzweni district in the county for a period of three years (2008-2010) then later up scaled to Nzaui district within the same County. Approaches employed were; community mobilization, training and practical demonstrations, hosting a demonstration and model farms, holding field days, providing groups with necessary equipment/tools and finally facilitating farmer to farmer exchange . Partners- Eastern and Southern Africa Partnership Programme (ESAPP) - Conservation Agriculture project funding Ministry of Agriculture (Kathonzweni district, Nzaui District). Identification of sites and groups, and also in extension services to the target areas. Project Management CETRAD has a permanent staff on the ground, coordinated from CETRAD main office. Permanent attachment of an officer from the Ministry of Agriculture in the project. The Officer is facilitated by the project.
Climate hazard of concern
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?
Conservation tillage enables for the conservation of rainfall though harvesting of runoff and minimizes loss of soil moisture. Farmers use this technique. The solution enables farmers to harvest even when faced by drought situation. This is due to soil and water conservation measures over the years through the application of the solution. For many years, drought situation in Makueni has been very prevalent with drought intervals reducing to 2-3 years from 4-5years a decade ago. The area receives a rainfall of 300- 400mm p.a. But the main challenge is on rainfall distribution, and onset with onset delaying with more than 2 months. **** Community exposure to drought in the region has been through crop failure every time there is drought and also losses of livestock. This has led to high dependence of the community to relief food from the government and other institution. Also water scarcity is very rampant during these periods. Our solution ensures the farmer harvests and that they have feed for livestock through the higher amount of biomass even during worst exposure.
How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?
CA practice by farmers has minimized soil disturbance by conventional farming thus the physical soil problems such as compactions have been rectified. This has seen maintained and improved soil organic matter on the soil surface using crops residue or cover crops. These enables protection of soil surface, leads to water and nutrient conservation, promotes soil biological activities and lead to the contribution to integrated weed and pest management. CA also has led to diversification of species in associations, sequences and rotations. This includes trees (mango trees and oranges), shrubs, pastures and crops. All these have contributed to the enhancement of crop nutrition and improved farming resilient systems.
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?
The project has seen farmers' yield increase thus improved farm income. Farm families practicing CA have seen their production costs reduced and have been able to harvest in instances where there is drought. Also farms under CA always have high biomass as compared to conventional farming. This has enabled farmers to feed their livestock during drought periods.
How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?
The project promotes diversification of crops through association. These has seen farmers have a diversified crop thus increased security and reduced risks. Example is a situation where farmers relied on maize farming (before the project) which was not doing very well due to frequent crop failures. Farmers embraced other types of crops which were better suited to the local weather conditions.
How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?
The project entails a rigorous training to capacity build the community. Not only on Conservation agriculture, but also on other cross- cutting issues. This has led to farmers who are well capacity built on different issues, a more wider social net which runs beyond the county, and also increased crops diversity reducing dependency on one crop.
Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?
Yes the solution can be replicated since the technology has been practiced all over the world and results hav shown tremendous gains. Farmers need appropriate tools that can be utilized to suite their local situation. Example in Makueni Project, we utilized oxen drawn tools. Capacity building the community on the technology. Having demonstration the first season to show case the technology to the farmers. Using existing farmers self help groups that have their goals set on improvement of food security. Our approach was consultative and it had a clear purpose. The innovation was only practiced after research findings proved that it can multiply productivity three times. It was not a top-down approach. The project has been highly successful and sustainable.