By Rawlings Otieno
The story of Fredrick Otieno is proof that farming on a small-scale level can be so successful that if replicated around the country, it can fix the ever-threatening food shortages.
Otieno's journey to achieving good yields started when he abandoned his juakali mechanical business to start farming on his four-acre piece of land in Sidindi in South Ugenya, Siaya County, 13 years ago.
Now, the 48-year-old is reaping bumper harvests, thanks to a pilot project started by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) six years ago.
The project catered for setting up field trials, planting, weeding and harvesting as well as inputs and researchers in the field.
Before his farm was picked as a model for the trials, Otieno ventured into farming, he spent seven years struggling. Because of using traditional farm practices, his yields were low and unsustainable, yet he spent a lot of time and money in his farm.
Then the pilot project came to his village and he embraced it immediately.
CIAT, which was working with the Kenya Agricultural Research institute (Kari), African Soil Information System and the International Plant Nutrition Institute, turned around his farming and today, his four-acre piece of land produces more than 100 bags of maize and at least 40 bags of beans in one season.
“Before this project, I'd harvest less than five bags of maize, but with the kind of returns I now get, I am happy I became a farmer,” a jovial Otieno told The Standard.
Otieno's farm was chosen as a model. Soil acidity was tested as poor yields in the area were investigated.
The ecological and rainfall patterns are conducive, but why were the farmers not getting good harvests?
“They changed the time of planting, used the correct seeds and applied enough fertilisers on the farm and I have seen this works well,” says the father of four.
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