Farmers win praise on organic farming project

A team of farmers from Vihiga who toured farming practiced agro ecology in Murang'a. [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]

Hundreds of farmers are trooping to Murang'a to benchmark agroecology farming practices.

Murang'a County, early in the year, emerged as the first county in Kenya to adopt agroecological farming upon enactment of a much-awaited policy before farmers from far and wide started touring for learning purposes.

A team of farmers from Vihiga County toured farms in Kangema, Kigumo, Gatanga and Kiharu to learn how the locals using organic farming after they stopped using chemicals and fertilisers.

The delegation led by Vihiga agriculture CEC Mr Nicholas Kitungulu was interested in implementation of the policy where they learnt the local farmers were not using chemicals in the farms and were working towards protecting the environment.

Organic produce packed by organic farmers in Gatanga, Murang'a. [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]

Kitungulu said Murang'a farmers are ranked highly over the implementation of agroecological practices.

"We from Western Kenya wish to be the second county to enact the agroecology policy," said Kitungulu.

Murang'a senior agricultural officer Mr Daniel Gitahi, an advocate of agroecology, said the local farmers adopted the concept and were earning profit.

"Working with partners, we have educated the farmers on the best farming practices focusing on their improved health," said Gitahi.

In the Gatanga sub-county, the team was thrilled with the value addition programmes by Gatanga digital youth farmers in Kirwara, who have occupied stands in the nearby market centre.

James Mwaura, a youth leader, said organic farming has earned them a better market for their produce in Gatanga and Nairobi.

Mwaura said the value addition of the farm produce and herbs has helped the farmer access the Nairobi market.

"We have a special market in Westlands and Upper Hill where the customers place orders for our organic cabbages, kale chilles, among other produce," said Mwaura.

Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (Pelum) Coordinator Mary Irungu said Murang'a is the showcase for the studies, where local farmers use friendly farming methods, using locally available resources.

"The farmers are encouraged to use friendly methods to address the concerns related to control of diseases and pests," said Ms Irungu.

She added that through the support from other partners, hundreds of farmers across the country have established personal and community seed banks.

Farmer Elizabeth Musiele said the visit to Murang'a was an eye-opener as there are opportunities in organic farming to be taken by Vihiga farmers.

" The benchmarking has been fruitful, as the Murang'a farmers are eating healthy foods after they adopted organic farming," she said.

In Kiharu, Julius Maina, a local farmer and an agronomist, said agroecological waves were sweeping through the villages, with the locals adopting it as it was less demanding.

" There is a local cure for fungal in crops where we mix milk and baking powder that is less expensive as compared to the use of chemicals," said Maina.

Murang'a County Agriculture CEC Prof Kamau Kiringai said most local farmers have embraced organic farming, avoiding the destructive chemicals.

He said it was an honour for the visiting delegation interested in acquiring agroecological skills seven months after the county passed a policy after five years of struggle.

"There is a need for the national government to facilitate the county governments in formulating friendly agricultural-related policies to enhance stability in food production," said Kiringai.


Farmers making organic coffee and avocados to suit the demanding market.

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