Some 350 farmers will benefit from a new initiative by PlantVillage to upscale cassava production in seven counties in Kenya.
PlantVillage, apart from contracting farmers to set up the project on specific farms, will also lease five acres in each of the seven selected counties for experiments by the organization’s research extension officers as a way of looking into the future of cassava farming.
The idea to scale up the cassava project, which has taken root in Bungoma, Busia, and Kilifi counties, was inspired by PlantVillage’s recent partnership with Agricycle to help farmers grow healthy and quality cassava by finding a good market for them and saving them from unscrupulous brokers who buy their produce at a throwaway price.
The ambitious initiative now spreads to Kilifi, Migori, Baringo, Siaya, and Homabay, which were selected because farmers in those counties showed a willingness to embrace cassava farming apart from the fact that they are in regions where the crop thrives.
Chemwa Farmer Field School (FFS) member uproots cassava in their demoplot harvested in August 2022 in Bungoma County, Kenya/Credits:PlantVillage
The project will be done in 50 one-acre plots in each of the seven selected counties as PlantVillage aims to boost the organization’s goal to eradicate hunger through drought mitigation measures.
The process of mapping the fields has already kicked off in Bungoma County, according to the lead of the project in that county, Sally Jemo, who revealed the details of the initiative, which seeks to utilize the opportunity presented by Agricycle for small-holder farmers in Kenya.
Ms. Jemo said the project will run for two years and that PlantVillage Dream Team research extension officers will guide the farmers through every step of it, from preparing the land to selling the produce.
Elly Oragi, field officer based in Homabay County in Kenya, with farmers during training on cassava value addition at the Randong Aggregation Centre in February 2022/Credits:PlantVillage
"Production in the selected plots will be boosted by the technology we advocate for, such as the use of the PlantVilage Nuru application in diagnosing crop diseases and pests and biochar in soil rejuvenation," she said.
As a result, Sally projects a good harvest. She says the organization will plant 4,000 stems from clean seedlings supplied to farmers in each of the one-acre plots.
Each stem is estimated to produce 3 to 4 kilograms.
"This project will help farmers adapt to climate change through climate-smart crops such as cassava, upscale their farming, and put money in their pockets," she concluded.
- Written by Sam Oduor