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At least a thousand farmers in Lower Eastern region have benefited from free training on dryland farming technologies, courtesy of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK). The training that attracted hundreds to the NCCK’s exhibition stand was conducted during the just concluded South Eastern A.S.K show, held in Machakos.
During the show the Council exhibited 3 dryland technologies –Zai Pit, water pan and Moist garden-that have contributed greatly to high yields in Kwa vonza area where it has been implemented for more than three years now. The farmers lauded the initiative by the Council and her development partners, acknowledging that it had transformed many lives in the area.
Bishop Alice Mulandi –one of those who visited NCCK stand-told Jumuia news that she would implement lessons learnt as soon as she got home. She said: “There was a huge crowd here and your trainers did not disappoint. They were spot on! I have been taught how to do Zai pits, and moist garden. I will immediately do moist garden at my place and plant vegetables so that I can no longer go to the market. Instead people should bring money to me! I will also teach people at home and even church.”
Machakos’ Agricultural Resource Technology Centre Farm Manager Julius Kioko, admitted that it was the first time he had seen the technology being exhibited in the area. “I have learnt a new thing about Zai pits. I did not know that I can actually plant legumes on dykes! This is an amazing technology that people need to embrace for sure and NCCK should get a bigger space next time,” he suggested.
On their part Agnes Simon and Jackson Mbaki- Kwa Vonza beneficiaries and facilitators-expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to impart knowledge to farmers. Simon told Jumuia news: “I feel empowered and honoured to teach people about these technologies. This show has given me the opportunity to teach doctors, teachers, professors, students name them! Thanks to NCCK in partnership with Diakonia Sweden for the Kwa Vonza food security project, which I chair.”
“Other farmers were asking for contacts so that they can call us for more training. The experience has challenged me to increase the number of Zai pits from 600 to 1000 by end of this year,” said Mbaki.
Speaking to Jumuia news, Faith Sibairo, NCCK’s Regional Coordinator for Lower Eastern, observed that the Council had impacted many lives. She said: “The Zai pit and moist garden technologies have transformed peoples’ lives in ensuring their food security. WE would like to propagate these far and wide to see communities in our region adapt them appropriately.”
The theme of the 5-day event was “Enhancing technology in agriculture and industry for food security and national growth.”
‘Zai Pit’ has enabled the farmers to significantly double their farm produce compared to conventional farming approaches. The technology was introduced in Kwa Vonza by the Council and her partner, with an objective of building the community’s capacity in dry land water harvesting for adaptive agriculture.
It was part of NCCK’s drought recovery interventions due to perennial crop failure in the area. Some of the crops that have been grown using the technology in Kwa Vonza include Sorghum, maize, beans cow-peas beans among others.
Zai-Pit is a sustainable agriculture and food security technology which is widely practiced in Sahel West Africa, a densely populated semi-arid region bordering the Sahara desert. It was the missing link in Kenya’s endeavor to achieve sustainable agriculture and food security for all. The technology involves harvesting and conservation of rain run-off and soil fertility restoration.