In decades gone by, farmers living in the parched and semi-arid parts of Kenya experienced prolonged dry spells that brought hunger-related deaths and health complications.The East African nation is predominantly rain-fed making it highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
The country is currently experiencing a prolonged drought largely as a result of below average precipitation from the seasonal short rains.
However, the Anglican Church of Kenya has stepped in to address the situation, precisely in Muranga County in Central Kenya by championing a unique modern farming technique in a bid to boost food security.
The farmers have a reason to smile with the introduction of conservation agriculture, that is gaining currency in Kenya.
The church introduced the new technique through its development arm known as Anglican Development Services (ADS).
Geoffrey Githinji is the project officer who has been training farmers on conservation agriculture farming.
He says that the farming is supposed to encompass three principles, one of them being minimum tillage of land in every season.
Githinji explains that failure to plough the land in every season saves on cost and also helps rainfall to percolate into the soil.
While tilling the land, farmers expose their soil to the sun thus every single drop of water in the ground evaporates immediately.
The second principle involves use of cover crops like pigeon peas that cover the soil from sun exposure.
The third principle is on crop diversification or inter-cropping which improves on soil fertility.
Most farms in the region are small and inter-cropping helps farmers to acquire a variety of crops in a small farm.
Githinji encourages farmers to embrace this technology which is less laborious, climate resilient and conserves environment while mitigating effects of climate change.
Farmers are also encouraged on good agronomic practices and good spacing to enhance higher yields and also get enough fodder for their livestock.
The farmers are heaping praise on the new farming technique, saying that they are recording bumper harvests.
Some of the farmers who spoke to the African Press Agency laud the new farming method, saying it has yielded good results compared to when they were employing the use of unreliable traditional farming practices.
Esther Karii from Thathawa village in Gikindu location is a happy farmer who has been growing green maize and beans in her farm that is otherwise full of rocks.
Telling her story, Ms. Karii who could not harvest even half a sack of maize from this piece of rocky land now get over 10 sacks, thanks to the new farming technique being spearheaded by the Anglican church of Kenya.
Benard Karuma who runs a farm at Gikuu village of Mbiri ward, where he has not only grown maize under new farming technique but was harvesting potatoes and beans is no less enthusiastic.
Karuma is a happy farmer who has witnessed the benefits of the new farming method and is reaping big from this tecnique.
The farming involves clearing of bushes then digging holes where the seeds will be planted.
The farmer then measures a spoon of ash and tops it up with one cup of animal manure which is covered by soil and dry mulch on top.
When the rains fall, seeds are planted in the already prepared land without removing the mulch which helps the soil to retain the water in it for a long time.
Food harvested is supposed to be stored in two lined polythene bags inside that prevents air from penetrating through and thus no pests can invade the grains hence, saving money that would be used to buy expensive pesticides.
As the new mode of farming gains currency in the region, farmers are being encouraged by the church to embrace conservation agriculture in promoting food security as well as mitigating the effects of climate change.