Agro-biodiversity on the field defies army worm

   2000m² Kenyan field

There is enough to harvest on 2000 m² field of Maina’s family despite shortage of rain and outbreak of army worm (Photo: Seed Savers Network)

Seed Savers Network and also our 2000 m² Team are happy to report that the idea of the 2000 m2 Field in Gilgil in Kenya has shown some potential in feeding households, especially at this period when Kenya has experienced production challenges due to shortage of rain and outbreak of army worm.

This marks the most difficult moment for farmers across Kenya as maize, which is their staple crop, was heavily attacked by this pest. It led to high harvest losses and crop failure. The national government through the Ministry of Agriculture intervened with a State Pest Control Programme. However, this only large scale farmers benefited from this programme. This situation neglected small-scale farmers such as Maina’s Family, which struggle the pest control difficulties.

The low maize production resulted in the import of maize grains and the introduction of subsidized maize flour by the Kenyan government. This was intended to fill the production deficit to match with the consumption needs. However, Maina’s family enjoyed Irish potatoes and continued to consume vegetables from their field. The surplus is sold which gives them an extra source of income and partially meets the household financial needs.

The Seed Savers Network is happy to see that the future of feeding the population lies in crop diversification and they would like to train many farmers to embrace the idea in their farming system. Despite these challenges, Maina’s family harvested 450 kilograms of potatoes, 100 kilograms of beans, continues to harvest carrots, kale, spinach, pepper, courgettes and other local vegetables – in addition amaranth, kahurura, comfrey, black nightshade and spider weed. The family uses the area which had maize furrow and is well covered with grass for feeding their livestock. Already, they have started with the primary cultivation and are ready for planting in the next season.

The Seed Savers Network is working closely together with Maina‘s family in order to establish another field for the coming season. Soon they will be visiting them to deliver some seeds for planting.

2000 m² Kenia

2000 m² field of Maina`s family in Gilgil (photo: Seed Savers Network)

Their dream is to set a demonstration garden where Maina’s neighbours can come to learn and embrace the idea of diversified cultivation practices. The Seed Savers Network is looking forward to invest more on this idea and establish more 2000 m2 gardens across the country to serve as training centers for crop diversification which will enhance attainment of our agro-biodiversity conservation Mission.

We would like to thank the Seed Savers Network for the important work they are doing and spreading the idea of diversity in agriculture to promote food security.

By Lisa Mair ,2000m2 Field

Lisa Mair

SEED EXCHANGE TRANSFORMS LIVES

Francis Ngiri is at his farm when I visited, he is a farmer from makongo, Kiptagwanyi area in Nakuru County. He is a member of makongo farmer’s network group, one of the groups managed by Seed Savers Network.

He started saving seeds in 2014 where he was saving seeds that were common to other farmers such local beans, maize,vegetable,,sorghum among others. Francis is a role model to  other farmers in his group since he has been able

to save huge  amount of seeds in their seed bank, for example 90 kg of red kidney beans, red sorghum 45 kg, 30 glasses of black night shade and many more .Being a leader of makongo farmers network group he attends different seminars and trainings organized by seed savers network  on farming .

During one of the training in November last year,a diverse seed competition organized by PELUM-Kenya, ,he was

Francis sorting seeds

able to interact with other farmers at a different level where they exchanged, loaned  and shared seeds among

themselves. To him, this was a great opportunity since he exchanged 500gs of thorn melon seeds for 500g hibiscus seeds. Through the knowledge he had in seed saving, he went on and multiplied the seeds which gave him bumper harvest even during hash climatic conditions in the area. He is currently giving other group members these seeds to benefit from seed saving initiative. He has enough for planting in an acre.seed savers network has already secured market for these crop which will boost their income and seed saving efforts.

SEED SAVING MANUAL FOR ENHANCING AGRO-BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

Robust seed systems are central to sustainable food systems that are renewable, resilient, equitable, diverse, healthy, and interconnected. Seed Savers Network believes in the need to support community based and farmer managed

Our Extension Manual

seeds systems in order to protect and enhance seed diversity. The diversity of traditional seeds saved by small scale farmers is rooted in the knowledge that seeds are the foundation of life and more than a source of food which we

promote through our seed saving extension manual.

This manual is designed to empower and give skill to small-scale farmers. It equips farmers with the knowledge on how to save clean seeds. It incorporates farm level practical to ensure that farmers obtain the best seed; well selected, cleaned, sorted and stored in the seed bank. Through the manual also, farmers learn on the importance of conserving agro bio diversity. The manual is obtained at seed savers network office where non-members pay a higher cost compared to those who have membership to seeds savers network.