In Western Kenya 83% of farmers engaged with PlantVillage are women. Alice Otwane from Kamarinyang in Busia County is a small holder farmer planting Maize, sweet potatoes, cassava, banana, groundnuts, vegetables for both commercial and subsistence purposes.
As a parent, she practices agriculture to provide food and income for her family. Alice attributes her constant source of food to cassava crops because of their potential to manage multiple risks such as climate change and fluctuating market unlike maize which is planted in seasons.
As a woman in agriculture what challenges do you face while farming
I mostly encounter financial challenge .I might have the farm but at times I lack the seeds to plant. Sometimes my crops are infested by pest and disease and I lack means to control the situation. Other times I lack the resources to conduct weeding in my farm.
Are you in PlantVillage SMS program?
Yes. I always receive agriculture advice via SMS that help improve my farming. For instance, as a maize farmer this season, I received advice on which fertilizer to apply at which stage. Also, I received advice on post-harvest management practices of maize such as drying the maize before storage and that one can store the maize in hermetic bags for more than 2 years without chemical use.
In my group meetings with other farmers, I share knowledge on the dos and don’ts in farming that I have learned via SMS. When these farmers heed to the advice, they acquire good yields.
Has your involvement with PlantVillage increased your yields?
Since I became a farmer with PlantVillage, I have benefitted a lot. I didn’t know the importance of planting healthy clean seeds. Initially, I planted cassava cuttings without knowing if they were unhealthy and had less yields. Now I know that one needs to select clean seeds to plant so as to avoid spread of diseases to other cassava plants. I have witnessed an increase in my cassava yields.
How do you help other farmers using PlantVillage Nuru app?
I always visit nearby farms to help identify cassava pest and diseases. I help other farmers to scan their cassava plants and advise them on rouging out the infected tubers to avoid spread of infection to adjacent plants.
Some farmers might inquire on where to get clean seeds to replace the ones they have rouged out. I always connect these farmers to seed entrepreneurs with clean seeds
What farming practices have you changed?
Before, I was not practicing intercropping and crop rotation. Ever Since I acquired knowledge from PlantVillage, I can intercrop cassava with grain legumes like green grams, soybeans, beans, peanuts. This help the farm to get soil nutrients, help prevent soil erosion and i get additional income.
How are other farmers’ response to agriculture knowledge by PlantVillage?
I have 14 following farmers; 12 women and 2 men. Women are more because in most cases women are the ones handling farming activities. Women easily attend to group meetings and workshops to get agriculture knowledge. They acquire knowledge and heed to advice that help them in their farms.
Written By Mercyline Tata