Improving farming, Improving life!
September 16, 2020
“Before I started practicing Conservation Agriculture, I earned at most Kshs.5000 per harvesting season from farming. Because of practicing CA, I now earn up to Kshs. 20,000.00 per harvesting season.“David Mbiti
My name is David Mbiti from Kanguutu village, Mwanyani location, Nkondi ward, Tharaka Nithi County. I am married with 4 children. I practice subsistence farming for a living.
Before I received knowledge on conservation Agriculture(CA), I used to prepare land for planting, clear the land and burn the bushes, plough using tractor or ox-drawn plough, and sometimes give the crop residual to cows. I was cultivating 2 acres of land and harvested 10 bags of maize or less.
Intervention/ Implementation provider
In 2016, I got know about conservation agriculture through Gerald Ndumpa who is now a Principal Lead Farmer in the NCCK’s Conservation Agriculture project. Gerald recruited me into his group called Kamuthetu CA farmers, and I received trainings. I was taught that; I do not need to plough my whole farm rather just dig where I will place seeds. This helps improve soil structure, reduce soil erosion and improve production. I should always ensure my farm remains covered throughout the year because it helps in moisture retention, avoid soil erosion as well as suppress weeds. I should crop rotate cereal with legume crops so as to improve soil fertility as well as break disease and pest cycle.
I came back home and decided to start practicing CA and managed to plant maize in 20m by 20m piece of land and harvested 2 bags which I could not get even 20kgs. This would be an equivalent of 16 bags of maize per acre. That was quite an improvement in the first season! I later expanded my CA farm to 40m by 40m. I have continued to increase the size of my CA farm until now I have 2 acres of land that I have practice conservation agriculture project.
During the OND 2019 I used conservation agriculture principles and planted sorghum in one and half acre and harvested 21 bags of 90 kg. This was a tremendous improvement because when I used to farm using conventional methods I used to harvest about 5-6 bags from the same piece of land.
The concluded season (March – July 2020) I had rotated with cow peas and planted some pigeon pea plants. Although the rains were not enough, I harvested 5 bags of cow peas and 3 bags of pigeon peas.
I have always wanted to try out various agro-enterprises and I have managed this by consulting the NCCK agronomists who are always with us on the ground. For example, in 2018, NCCK linked me with Mr. Bosco Murithi, the Nkondi ward extension officer then, whom together we decided to try out dryland arrow root farming in my farm. He gave me technical advice on how to do it. I dug a pit measuring 20ft long, 10ft wide and 3 ft. deep. I bought a dam liner and lined the pit so as to be able to hold water. I then mixed the top soil with manure in the ration 1:1 and planted 126 stems of arrow roots. The first time the arrow roots did not do very well but I was able to learn. I only harvested a few for the family. I planted again in 2019 and this time I harvested small sizes and big sizes of arrow roots. I sold the small ones at Kshs. 100/- and the big ones at Kshs. 200/- per piece. My family had enough arrow roots for food and we also shared with neighbors. We sold surplus and earned Kshs.8000.00 that season and used it pay school fees for my daughter who was a form four candidate then.
In April 2020 I planted another batch of 126 stems and they are growing well. I will harvest them around November or December 2020.
I have ventured in irrigation farming of maize, bananas, tomatoes and arrow roots. I use conservation agriculture knowledge to improve crop performance and production.
As of now I have planted portions of maize, cabbage, tomatoes and arrow roots.
I once hosted a field day/exhibition in my homestead in 2018 where over 100 participants turned up and learnt various agriculture practices that I implement.
I have been able to network with other organization such upper tana who helped myself and my group members to acquire a dairy goat which now gives us milk for use by the family.
Through practicing CA, I have realized the following benefits;
- Soil in my farm has improved fertility and food production has improved.
- I get enough food to eat and also to get income after selling
- Before I started practicing Conservation Agriculture, I earned at most Kshs.5000 per harvesting season from farming. Because of practicing CA, I now earn up to Kshs. 20,000.00 per harvesting season.
- I can save money and use for my farm operations.
- I don’t struggle to pay school fee like I did before
- Using the returns from farming I have been able to build house for my children.