PlantVillage Kilifi Team's Countrywide Journey: Assessing Agricultural Projects in Kenya

Posted on

PlantVillage Kenya's Kilifi team recently embarked on an exciting journey across the country to assess various agricultural projects that are helping to transform the farming landscape.

The team, comprised of agronomy and agroforestry experts, covered a wide range of agricultural domains during their expedition including horticulture, dairy farming, agroforestry, agronomy, and parasitoid rearing. They visited Uasin Gishu, Bungoma, Kisumu, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Baringo counties, where they had the opportunity to interact with farmers, researchers, and innovators working tirelessly to improve Kenya's agriculture sector.

PlantVillage Kilifi Team's Countrywide Journey: Assessing Agricultural Projects in Kenya

The team's journey began with a visit to horticultural farms in Uasin Gishu County exploring production of high value crops such as onions, chilies, garlic and capsicum. They observed firsthand the innovative practices and technologies being adopted by local farmers to enhance crop productivity and quality.

“Soil testing is key to ensuring food security, I do soil test yearly to determine the nutrients available and enhance soil fertility for growing high value crops in my farm,” said Ken, a horticulturist in Turbo, adding that he waters his crops during the day to avoid fungal diseases. 

Additionally, the team explored a dairy farm in the same region, gaining insights into modern dairy management techniques and sustainable dairy farming practices.

In Bungoma County, the agroforestry team met with lead farmers Ramadhan Abdalla and James Kakula who have been successfully implementing agroforestry practices on their land.

Ramadhan integrates trees with crops or livestock to create a more diverse and resilient farming system while James operates a tree nursery and is involved in large-scale production of banana seedlings.

The team assessed the farmers' agroforestry projects and learned about the benefits of tree planting, such as improved soil fertility, increased biodiversity, and enhanced climate resilience.

The agronomy team visited the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) in Kisumu to gain insights into cutting-edge agronomic research and innovations. The team engaged with experts, delving into the hybrid solar dryer technology that utilizes biomass and solar heat to enhance the value addition process of cassava and other crops.

In Eldoret, the team delved visited the USAID Current and Emerging Threats to Crops Innovation to understand the process of rearing and releasing parasitoids into the environment.

Under the guidance of Frankline Areba, the lead in the lab, the team was sensitized on the biological control of the fall armyworm.

“Parasotoids are advantageous because, unlike pesticides, they do not harm other natural enemies who assist in controlling the fall armyworm,” he noted.

The journey took an interesting turn as the team visited an Irish potato farm in Elgeyo Marakwet County. They had the opportunity to witness the intricacies of potato farming, from seed selection to farming.

“It is important to select quality seed when planting, a good potato seed has many eyes, the more the eyes the more the roots therefore production will be high,” said Matthew Korir, who leads the project in Elgeyo Marakwet.

The team concluded their expedition with a visit to the biochar production site in Salabani, Baringo County, where they learned about the process of biochar production and its potential to enhance soil fertility and mitigate climate change.

“We have managed to rejuvenate 15 acres of land through producing biochar from the invasive weed Prosopis juliflora,” said John Mayieka, who is in charge of the PlantVillage biochar project.

Mayieka added that the project has aided the community by providing employment to over 40 people.

“We are honored to have explored a broad spectrum of agricultural practices that are contributing to Kenya's food security, environmental sustainability, and economic development,” said Isaac Kiplangat, a research extension officer in Magarini Sub-county.

This exchange program not only allowed the team to assess ongoing projects but also fostered knowledge sharing and collaboration among farmers, researchers, and experts. The lessons learned during this journey will undoubtedly contribute to the continued growth and improvement of Kenya's agriculture sector.

Heart Heart icon