Conservation Farming and Rabbits Improve Nutrition and Income in Kenya

Conservation Farming and Rabbits Improve Nutrition and Income in Kenya

Dominique, a participant farmer in FRB’s Kenya-Ndeiya program, is gradually turning over his conventional 3-acre piece of land to conservation agriculture (CA). He’s become a role model for other farmers in the using CA, or Farming God’s Way (FGW), as it’s also known. Zero tillage plus mulch retains moisture; crop rotation helps to prevent diseases; organic fertilizer renews the soil and saves money; and inter-cropping wards off insects.

FGW advantages include:

  • No weeding all the way through the growing period 
  • Reduced need for fertilizer  
  • Pests discouraged by mulch at the root level: bugs prefer dry soil 
  • Blight control through mulching by reducing infected soil splashed by rain onto lower leaves
  • 2-3 times greater yields for food and profit potential
  • Three crops per year
  • Healthier plants produced by bigger potatoes that bring in more income
  • Less labor once mulch is spread, so farmers can spend more time on other activities like raising rabbits

One of the greatest challenges to complete adoption of FGW is convincing participants that not tilling the soil is OK. Finding enough mulch material to cover the soil adequately can be problematic. Farmers learn to plant leguminous trees and green manures whose residues can be left on the ground as mulch and whose nitrogen fertilizes the soil.With profits from his increased production of potatoes, Dominique has been able to purchase cows, considered locally to be a family’s “bank account.” His success has encouraged others to give FGW a try.

Thanks to conservation farming techniques  farmers who have more free time are now raising rabbits for protein and income.

Participants were skeptical at first – rabbits were seen as a hobby for little boys, and people in the area were not accustomed to eating rabbit meat. The local partner organization, ACK-MKCSS, had to do a lot of training in order to gain community acceptance of rabbit meat as an economical source of protein. Trainings included tasting rabbit dishes, teaching participants to cook rabbit, and supplying recipes so that people could acquire the taste for this new meat.

Participants learned rabbit husbandry practices, including how to build pens, and basics in marketing. Because one rabbit can go for 1,000 Kenya Shillings (about $12 US), farmers quickly caught on to the value of rabbits as a source of household income. One potato farmer currently has about 30 rabbits as a side business, and makes about $100 profit every 4-6 months from his sales.

The Kenya-Ndeiya Program encompasses 2 communities, 200 households, and 1,200 individuals

02/20/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment