Conservation Agriculture; Improving Lives and mitigating Climate Change
April 25, 2022
Success Story: Hassan Kiragu
My name is Hassan Kiragu, I hail from Marundi village, Thiiti sub-location, Thiiti location in Mukothima ward, Tharaka Nithi County. I am 70 years old, married and blessed with seven children all who are grown-ups. My wife lives with one of my sons who migrated to have his own home. I am a farmer and a member of Thiiti mothers’ farmer group. Our lead farmer’s name is Janet, and she attends NCCK trainings and gets back to our groups to train us.
Earlier, farming had been ordinary with poor farming methods of land preparation and poor agronomic practices. For example, planting one type of crop, burning of crop residues, less investment in land as a way to prevent soil erosion. These practices among many resulted to decreased agricultural production. Using conventional farming, I had been producing 45kgs of maize per acre. However, in cases of low rainfall, I could harvest 10kgs or even zero due to less moisture retention and soil degradation. This had been a discouraging harvest considering it was in a 1-acre land.
Here at Thiiti location, we have very fertile soils but due to rain shortages, our harvests earlier were not good at all. There had been some irrigation water but it is very unreliable as it is rationed and reaches us two days in a week. People had cut down trees from every point at this village as they try getting some new farms that they can yield at least some better products after the little rains that fall, and others had cut down the trees for charcoal burning.
I met NCCK in 2017 at our group. Isaac Koome, an NCCK agronomist visited us and he was highly discouraging the practices we were carrying out at our farms then like land ploughing, burning of crop residues, planting methods, charcoal burning, among others. He encouraged us to try other methods of farming that conserves the soil and water and highly plant trees in our farms. I can remember how he was also clear on other activities we can venture to earn us extra income.
After the trainings, I found some activities very tiresome to practice at my age, but I had to try some at my place. I decided to choose one of the fine Conservation Agriculture principles and I ventured into agroforestry. I called the NCCK agronomist, he clearly guided me on how to prepare a nursery bed, and I immediately started. I have since kept the agronomists very close to me for extension work; they are really doing an amazing job.
Since then, I have extensively planted trees at my farm and many seedlings that I sell to my neighbours. I have been selling seedlings to the neighbours and organizations that deal with climate change but I have never met the demand of seedlings in any of the seasons. I have been earning enough from the sale of my seedlings and that I do not need to get any financial support from my children as they used to support me earlier. Right now, sometimes, I’m even the person who supports some of them financially in case of financial crises.
In a season, I sell my trees any time earning not less than Kshs 60,000 and that is some very good money from just a plot of land at home. It is easy to maintain, and it guarantees me income when the rain starts. Right now, I have employed a neighbour by the name Faith who helps me in maintaining the nursery bed and am still training her as she helps me. Faith has also started her own nursery bed and she has around 60 trees at her nursery bed right now. Here at my seedling nursey, I have around 1500 seedlings that am hoping to sell any time when the rains pick up well. Last year, the county government of Tharaka Nithi recognized my efforts and I was rewarded the second in the county in matters of climate change.
I have also prepared some zai pits around my home that I plant some vegetables and maize using some little water available and they really do well. From the zai pits here, I can get the vegetables I need almost throughout the year. People have been learning from me, neighbours have been visiting to learn on my practices after they have seen the results, and I am happy with my work. My neighbour, Nicholas Mutemba, has been frequently visiting and from last season, I can see he has done some amazing job, he has applied mulching in almost all his farm and crops are doing well after these little rains. People are now learning from him at his farm. His crops are not drying as it is happening on other farms who are still on conventional farming.
Here at home, I have also reared some chicken to supplement my financial needs. I was advised on poultry management and the death rates of the chicks are now very low. From poultry rearing, I have been earning some income from sale of eggs and chicken at the local markets. I do follow trainings on poultry management and other NCCK trainings on radio as the agronomist articulate them on our local radio station, Geetu FM.
I thank NCCK and the agronomists for touching our hearts. I would request NCCK to increase their engagement with men as they engage women. Men need support in their preferred activities like bee keeping, support their groups with some revolving funds to boost their businesses and get support in terms of farm implements. For agroforestry, NCCK might think of supporting the farmers with water tanks to help them water their nursery beds.
We are happy that NCCK chose this area, I’m happy you chose my group, and I’m happy to be part of you. May God bless you.