Water is the main constraint for farmers in Kitui County. Water scarcity and drought are constant challenges in the area. Soil degradation and desertification are becoming critical issues. Conservation Agriculture is being promoted because of its potential to change these circumstances and prosper the work of the farmers in Kitui.
Conservation Agriculture is a set of soil management practices that minimize the disruption of the soil structure, composition, and natural biodiversity. Despite the variability in the types of crops grown and specific management necessities, all forms of CA share three core principles. These include:
- Maintenance of permanent or semi-permanent soil cover, using either a previous crop residue or specifically growing a cover crop for this purpose
- Minimum soil disturbance through no-tillage, just enough to get the seed into the ground
- Rotating the crops which are planted in a single plot of soil in order to allow nutrients to be restored.
When these CA practices are used by farmers, the most significant benefit is a more plentiful and consistent harvest. However, the farmers are also able to conserve their own physical energy, or that of their animals, because of the easier labour CA practices offer. Environmentally, conservation agriculture assists in the reduction of fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
SASOL is currently focusing on community capacity building through trainings involving farmer demo plots. Right now the number of farmers implementing CA in Kitui is small, but SASOL believes adoption of the principles will improve based on the positive response from the community in observing its benefits. As more farmers commit to practicing Conservation Agriculture, the collective weight of changes will restore the much needed nutrients and water to the soil, increasing the sustainability of each farmer’s production. SASOL strongly believes that by employing CA, it will open opportunities for farmers in Kitui County, leading to a sure access to food and improved livelihoods for the whole community.
Pilot Project Dates: May 5, 2014- May 2015
Potential 3-year Program Dates: June 2015- May 2018
Conservation agriculture is being promoted for its resource saving capacity including maintaining soil fertility, erosion control, reducing desertification and efficient use of scarce water resources; all of which are struggles that Kitui County faces. The ultimate goal for the project is to improve food security for the first 50 farmers in Mbitini/Kisasi ward.read more