Kenyan farmers turn to organic farming for better yields

Kenyan farmer Judith Mumbua noticed that the use of commercial fertilizers was creating problems for both her crops and the dirt on her farm in the village of Mwania in eastern Kenya.

“The chemicals affect the soil making it hard, and the plants, especially corn and beans, do very poorly,” she says.

It was three years ago. Now she has gone organic, which she says has created a more positive outcome and a healthier way to farm. It’s even better for her cattle, she says.

“There are advantages in production compared to previous farming methods that I have explored using chemicals and fertilizers from stores,” says Mumbua.

Mumbua started organic farming after a training program at a local agricultural organization. She admitted that this farming method has helped her curb antimicrobial resistance in her plants for several years.

“Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change and no longer respond to drugs, making infections difficult to treat and even manage in cultures,” she explains.

Organic farming or ecological farming is basically the use of green manures, compost, organic farming and organic fertilizers derived from animal waste. According to Mumbua, the method has increased the quality and production of his food.

Mumbua advises farmers to try making biological medicines for crops using locally available materials such as leaves, chicken droppings, cow dung, goat and sheep droppings and even tree ash. kitchen wood.

Education is the key

An agriculture teacher at nearby St Mary’s School, Charles Itumo, also farms a small plot adjacent to the school where he teaches students.

His patch hadn’t been producing well for two years, he tells the Africa Calling podcast. Organic farming experts visited his farm and pointed out that his crops had antimicrobial resistance.

He turned to organic farming and now imparts the benefits of organic farming by not using chemicals to his students.

“Organic farming is growing without using chemicals. For example, we dig a compost pit and fill it with kitchen waste to decompose, then we can use it later as manure on the farm,” explains Wayne Muey, a 5th grade student at Sainte-Marie Elementary School.

“It helps a farmer save money and promote healthy growth of plants such as kale, spinach, onions and tomatoes.”

Livestock also benefit

A longtime supporter of organic farming is small-scale farmer Peter Melonye, ​​who lives in neighboring Kajiado County. He has been feeding his cattle organic feed from his farm for 18 years. Melonye says her cattle produce quality milk that is free of chemicals and antimicrobial resistant strains.

“An animal without resistance is easier to treat than an infected animal. Infected cattle take a lot of time and money to treat,” observes Melonye. “Animals that feed on farm scraps provide milk and meat.”

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Most farmers treat their animals without consulting the appropriate veterinary experts, which leads to such resistance, says Dr Dennis Bahati, a veterinarian at the African Animal Welfare Network.

“The excessive use of these specific drugs, especially antibiotics, can have harmful effects. For example, in Maasai land, the community has a habit of treating its animals without consulting veterinarians. This over-the-counter self-prescription from local agronomists vets is risky,” he says.

When a cow is injected with antibiotics and milked the next morning, the cow’s milk is not safe to drink, Bahati says.

People are unknowingly consuming a lot of antibiotic residues, not only in milk but also in meat sold at local butchers without expert approval.

#Pesticides does not only affect #Farmerscorn #consumers also because they eat the products, 🇰🇪farmer Charles Itumo told the correspondent @vicmoturi.🎧 #biological agriculture https://t.co/TQMT6bJNVs – Africa Calling (@Africa__Calling) March 5, 2022

In addition to his cattle herding, farmer Melonye also practices mixed cropping, where he plants different crops on the same land. He says agricultural extension workers and local organizations have been a big help to him through the devolved government and farming system in Kenya.

Local and government-funded schools for farmer training teach which crops are best for human and animal consumption.

“Fungicide and antibiotic residues in crops promote the emergence of resistant strains of fungi and bacteria. This could also increase the risk of human resistance as well as other health risks,” warns Melonye.

Using the same type of products for a long time is the main cause of antimicrobial resistance on Kenyan farms, says Eustace Kiarie, an organic expert at the Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN).

“Good soil health allows for healthy crops that can resist some of these pathogens. This ensures that your livestock are also healthy,” she says, adding that farmers need to monitor their crops regularly and deal with problems immediately if they arise.

Kiarie says the results are evident.

“We have seen an increase in the number of products on the market that are naturally produced and able to effectively manage these pathogens,” she adds.

This article was originally heard on RFI’s Africa Calling podcast.

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