In Kenya, this time of year is known as “the hungry months.” It is the period of time from January through June that is often marked by families eating one meal (or no meals) a day as they try to make their food supplies last until the next crop can be harvested. For Dominique and his wife in Ndeiya, Kenya, the hungry months had been a way of life for many years, but not anymore.
Through several World Renew programs funded by the Foods Resource Bank, Dominique’s family has learned new ways of improving crop yields and diversifying their income and food sources. As a result, they are no longer struggling during this lean time of year.
One of the biggest changes that Dominique and his wife have made in their lives was learning to use conservation farming. World Renew and its local partners call this type of agriculture “Farming God’s Way.” It involves not tilling the soil and keeping the soil covered at all times in order to prevent precious top soil from washing away.
“Farming God’s Way” also includes using mulch on fields to retain moisture. This means that farmers can plant three crops each year instead of just one crop. Traditionally, nothing could be planted during the months of January through June because there was not enough rainfall to keep the plants alive. With mulch, however, enough moisture is retained in the soil that additional crops can be planted.
The mulch also helps to prevent weeds from growing and repels certain types of insects that prefer dry soil. This means that farmers need to spend less money on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which keeps their profits higher.
Moreover, "Farming God’s way” has great results. The plants grown using this methodology also produce more quantity and better quality food than those grown with traditional methods. Dominique and his family have doubled their harvests through this improved farming technique, and they have been able to sell their produce at better prices than before.
For example, a potato plant grown using traditional methods would yield about .5 kg of potatoes on Dominique’s farm. But using “Farming God’s Way,” the same plants produce 2 kg of potatoes! Because Dominique and his wife are rotating their crops, they also get a harvest of cabbage and a harvest of beans from the same land. The neighbors have seen the great results that Dominique is having, and they are now starting to use the techniques themselves.
Because the mulch prevents weeds from growing, Dominique and his wife now spend less time in their fields weeding their crops. Even though they have to build a fence around their fields to prevent animals from eating the mulch, they still have a lot of time for other income-earning activities. Recently, World Renew’s local partner trained them how to raise rabbits.
Rabbits are not unusual in this part of Kenya, but caring for them is something that has traditionally been done by young boys. Eating rabbits is also not that common. World Renew and its partners explained to people in the community of Nkeiya that rabbits could be an excellent source of protein and income. They even shared a few rabbit recipes to help people see how delicious the rabbits could be.
After attending the training, Dominique received a rabbit from World Renew. He has cared for it well and mated it with another. He now has 30 rabbits and makes about $100 every four to six months from selling rabbits for meat.
In addition, Dominique and his wife have started a small garden next to their house. They use this kitchen garden to grow a variety of foods to supplement their diet, including corn, arrowroot, and kale.
While life for the couple still has its challenges, they are grateful for the many improvements they’ve experienced since putting their training into practice. They have even saved enough money to buy a cow!
Dominique and his wife hope as others see the success that they are having, they will also begin “Farming God’s Way” and benefit from these simple changes as well.
Prayers for Kenya:
Stephan Lutz, Program Consultant -World Renew Kenya
View this blog on World Renew's Website