What is the environmental or ecological challenge you are targeting with your solution?:
Busia County in Western Kenya is rich in biological diversity with a variety of agroecological zones suitable for growing a diverse range of plants and crops and sufficient rain, yet it is facing severe environmental challenges and is among the poorest and food insecure counties in Kenya. Large farms have been divided into smaller portions leaving most farmers trying to earn a living off less than 0.6 hectares. Increased pesticide use pollutes water while food production has declined due to soil erosion. Changing land/resource use and management practices have contributed to loss of biodiversity including loss of nutritious genetic resources useful for agricultural productivity, sustainability and resilience to stresses. Other factors include climate change, over-exploitation, drought, floods and agricultural intensification. Further, changes in eating habits and lack of access to quality seed has left most Kenyans relying on a handful of food crops for their sustenance.
Describe the context in which you are operating:
Due to its favourable ecogeographic conditions, Busia County is one of Kenya's administrative divisions that is expected to produce enough food to feed its people and provide surplus to feed other parts of the country. However, Kenya's demographic and health survey carried out in 2014 reveals that poverty rates in Busia range from 63% to 74%. Two out of three citizens are unable to meet their basic food needs and 26.6% children under five are stunted, 11% are underweight and 4% are thin due to malnutrition. Studies have shown that farmers in Busia lack awareness of improved agricultural practices and technical know-how because extension staff are too few and lack transport and resources to reach the high number of small-scale farmers. Low government investments and support for farmers, lack of quality seed, limited access to markets and finance, as well as poor knowledge of value addition, post-harvest handling, food safety and hygiene practices further exacerbate these problems. Further, the focus of agricultural development on producing larger quantities of a few, energy-rich staples has led to the neglect of a large number of highly nutritious local species which are rapidly disappearing from the environment and from people’s diets.