Agriculture that works for the future!
September 16, 2020
“From the sale of surplus of my farm produce, I have money to cater for other family needs.”Florence Kangaria
My name is Florence Kangária. I am 48 years old. I stay in Undu village, Thiiti location, Mukothima ward, Tharaka Nithi County. I am married and together with husband we are blessed with 4 children; 3 girls and 1 boy, one is in high school, while the other two are in primary school. I have 3 acres where I stay and farm. But I rent 2 acres of land each season where I crop rotate sorghum and cow pea/green grams.
Sometimes we receive enough rainfall other times the rains are not enough. The short rains used to be a lot but things have changed. The biggest farm in my village is 3-4 acres. Farmers in the village farm food crops like sorghum, green grams, cow peas, pigeon peas.
I was a ECDE teacher from 1995 to 2005, then I got sick for about 2 years and I dropped the teaching job. Then I embarked on farming. I am a subsistence farmer. I do crop farming, poultry keeping of the Kienyeji chicken.
Before I got to know Conservation Agriculture (CA), I used to think that farming is just planting any seed without rotating, and farming in large acreages so as to harvest many bags of farm produce. I didn’t know that farming can be a business. I also used to plough the entire farm and clear the farm by burning crop residues every season after harvesting.
I had little food for my family. I used to harvest 2 bags of maize from 1 acre of land and 3 bags of millet from 1 acre. If I dared sell these, I wouldn’t have enough food for my family to take us to the next season.
Soil erosion used to occur a lot in the farm. I had a lot of struggles to pay school fees. Household conflicts. I used to do casual labor in peoples’ farms. Community used to know me for casual laborer, so they would even come to look for me to go and work in their farms.
The community did not recognize me as an important person more so when I got sick and left the ECDE job.
I used to do casual jobs in other peoples farms where I used to be paid Kshs.250 per day. My Children would accompany me so that we could have enough money to cater for family needs.
In 2018, I got to know about CA through a Principal Lead Farmer called Japheth Kibaara, who had been trained on the same by NCCK. He introduced NCCK staff to me who later visited my group called uundu bidi self-help group. They trained us on conservation agriculture principles, i.e. minimum tillage, soil covering, tree planting, crop rotation, intercropping. They have also been training us moist kitchen garden, Post-harvest handling and poultry management.
Before I met NCCK staff, the previous season (March – July 2018 rains) I had planted millet. When I received the trainings on the importance of soil cover and appropriate ways of doing crop rotation, I decided to leave the crop residue in the farm and rotate with Cow pea. I did not plough my farm but I panted the cow pea directly using a panga. When rains fell, the cow pea crops germinated and the weeds were suppressed by the millet crop residue that I had left in the farm. There was more moisture in the soil than before. That season, soil erosion did not happen like it used to because the crop residue helped in holding the soil thus preventing erosion. In the 1 acre that I used to harvest 3 bags, that season I harvested 8 bags per acre for 3 acres, so in total I harvested 24 bags of cow peas. After harvesting, I sold 8 bags of cow pea at 25/- per kg. I stored 16 bags of cow peas in Agrozet bags and sold them after 8 months when the prices shot high at Kshs. 80/-. I used part of the money to buy an acre of land in the neighboring household at Kshs. 20,000/-.
I did not know how to use manure. I used to burn animal manure instead of applying it in my farm.
NCCK trained me and my group members how to use manure in my farm. This has really improved the production in our farms.
Through NCCK’s trainings, I have started taking poultry keeping more seriously and it’s helping me in income generation. I also keep dairy goat that provide me with milk.
After receiving trainings from NCCK on various topics such as Conservation Agriculture principles, Post-Harvest Management, moist kitchen garden for improved nutrition, I have practiced the knowledge in my household. As a result;
- I have enough food.
- I am also able to store farm produce for long using the hermetic bags.
- From the sale of surplus of my farm produce, I have money to cater for other family needs.
- I have my own kitchen garden with vegetables especially cow peas and Sukuma wiki throughout the year.
- I don’t do casual labour in peoples farms anymore. Instead, I offer people casual labor in my farm.
- My neighbours are copying better methods of farming from myself and from my group members.
- The community is changing from their old ways of farming and adopting CA and other sustainable livelihood options such as poultry keeping and moist kitchen gardens.
I want to continue practising CA in my 3 acres of farm because it has improved my farm production.
Some of the challenges that I have faced are;
- Inadequate access to capital during farm operations for farm inputs.
- Pests & diseases in crops. For example, Fall Army worms in Maize & sorghum.
Nevertheless, I have continuously received advices on how to handle these challenges through the help of NCCK agronomists together and the ministry of agriculture extension officers.
Conservation Agriculture improves crop production!
Thank you to NCCK for introducing me to Conservation Agriculture and walking with me this far on matters farming.