Subsistence farmers in Africa continue to struggle to survive due to a very dire set of circumstances which is beyond their control. A lack of agricultural extension services by the government, small landholdings, soil erosion, overused and infertile soils, erratic rainfall patterns due to climate change, lack of access to quality seeds, little crop variety, lack of knowledge of effective farming techniques and rudimentary tools have resulted in very low agricultural yields, which leads to food insecurity throughout the year.
Lack of access to clean and safe water also greatly contributes to this desolate situation, which has disastrous effects on the general health and productivity of the population. Especially children are severely affected by malnutrition and stunting, which are at high levels (25 to 32% in the areas where we are active). These adverse conditions affect bodily functions and lead to a vicious cycle of medical, economic and social problems.
SOFDI has developed a holistic approach which counteracts the above-mentioned problems. As a first step toward improving the existing situation, SOFDI gives farmers access to clean water through spring protection (see WATER PROJECTS). This also serves as an entry point into the communities. The second step is to offer farmers free 5-day intensive practical and theoretical training carried out in the farmers’ communities (schools, churches) so that farmers do not have to travel far.
The training covers the following aspects:
- Introduction into Organic Farming /Sustainable Farming
- Introduction into Conservation Agriculture
- Soil and Water Conservation
- Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare
- Spring Protection, Hygiene and Sanitation
- Family Nutrition
- Soya Bean Production
- Diversity and Cropping Systems
- Organic Top Dressers/ Integrated Pest Management
- Leadership and Group Dynamics
- Farmers Work Plan
After this week of training, farmers have to form farmers groups and establish a demonstration plot under the guidance of SOFD. They are given African Leafy Vegetables (ALVs) as starter seeds for their farms and demonstration plots.
Any further assistance and access to SOFDI projects /services depends on the full uptake, adoption and practice by the farmers groups. Over a period of at least one year, our professional staff and trained lead farmers regularly visit the farmers to monitor progress and to assist them in overcoming challenges. We are always at their disposal.
WE DO NOT “TOUCH AND GO” AS MANY NGOs DO. WE STAY WITH THE FARMERS AND ASSIST THEM FOR AS LONG AS THEY NEED US IN ORDER TO ENSURE A TRULY SUSTAINABLE IMPACT.
CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE – improving farmers‘ adaptability and resilience to Climate Change
Left side: Traditional Farming / Right side: SOFDI
Farmers in Kenya are experiencing widespread effects of climate change, including irregular temperatures, changes in rain patterns, and resulting periods of severe flooding and draught. These climate-related changes are significantly increasing the vulnerability of rural communities who largely depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
These communities, which are highly dependent on rain-fed crop production, are already struggling with depleted soil quality, erosion problems, the recent spread of the Fall Army Worm pest, as well as declining plot sizes due to high population density. This contributes to critically low yields, and the lack of local agronomic knowledge and limited access to affordable inputs keeps them on the brink of crisis. Climate change only exacerbates these problems and the potential for widespread disaster.
The goal of SOFDI is to help small-scale farmers respond to climate variability through a variety of measures and technologies that will improve their knowledge and production capacity. These strategies and farming methods will ultimately make them more resilient to withstand the potentially devastating effects of climate change and continue adapting as new patterns arise. SOFDI is working with the county government extension agencies to enhance this process of local adaptability.
In 2017 we have in collaboration with the Kenyan Meteorological Department introduced a weather forecast information system. Seasonal, monthly and weekly Climate Information together with Agricultural Advisories are disseminated to farmers and 30 schools (teachers, pupils and parents), so far 10 000 people ( farmers and schoolchildren) benefitting from this service. Outreach to more beneficiaries is ongoing.
We also integrate all Climate Smart Agricultural measures into our school programs, in order to equip the next generation with the knowledge and skills needed to deal with the consequences of climate change well into the future. Parents of pupils are also included in the dissemination of weather forecasts and advisories, which ensures these SOFDI resources are reaching as wide an audience as possible.
SOFDI response to Fall Army Worm (FAW) invasion
FAW is a pest alarmingly threatening harvests and subsequently food security in many African countries (http://fao.org/africa/news/detail-news/en/c/469532/)
After the first appearance of the FAW we have taken immediate measures in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture combating this menace with the following key activities:
– organising a stakeholders workshop (with the Minister of Agriculture, Crops Officers and County Directors of Agriculture, KALRO National Director of Crops, USAID, ICIPE and SOFDI agriculturists and lead farmers)
– staff training/ institutional capacity building
– Lead Farmers training on FAW (detection and control through a variety of measures, etc.)
– distribution of spraying kits and safe application of chemicals
– set up of an early warning system
– monitoring and regular review meetings with farmers
– Farm activities additionally informed by SOFDI bulk system timely weather information
– Feed-back from farmer have shown that measures taken so far were successful. In fact this years harvest has even been bigger than the previous one admitting that favourable weather also contributed.
Through these comprehensive activities we could already reach out to about 80 villages (total of 20 000 households) mid 2018. More households to be targeted by end of 2018.
We are presently conducting trials with new organic pestizides in combination with other combined practices guided by FAO.
True to our holistic SOFDI approach, we address the problem of Climate Change through different measures, including the following: