Enhancing Best Practice Among Farmers

By Elizabeth Nyagoha

Capacity building and training are among the major boosters of goal achievement in organizations working with communities. A short-term crop pre-harvest survey report in July 2013 among KOMAZA farmers highlights strengthening of farmer trainings as a major recommendation. Achievement of this is going to be easy, thanks to the creation of the training and community outreach department that will oversee all training needs within the organization and propose best approaches for delivering trainings to staff and farmers. On- farm training is perhaps the way to go.

Field Managers and Officers offer sound advice and tips

Farmers listen attentively

 

One of such an event was organized on 3rd October by the Field Extension Network of Mtsara wa Tsatsu, with Alfred Kiti, the field manager being the overall planner. Part of the office staff in Kilifi who would represent those unable to make it had prepared early enough for the journey to Mtsara. This was a day of its kind and was show casing a farmer whose efforts and commitment in the project has captured the eyes of many. The farmer has since when the project was introduced in the location been planting trees. Currently the farmer has five eucalyptus plots under the care of his family. He also engages in other income generating crops like pineapples, cashew nuts and cassava.

Mathias Mutisya, the Country Director, admires the farmers’ hard work

Farmers walk through one of the woodlots. Rainfall in the area is unreliable. The use of Zhai pits ensures water is collected for use by the tree when it rains

 

Best maintenance practices have helped the farmer reduce tree mortality in the early stages of maturity

 

Cashew nuts and pineapples: What started as a trial and error has become an income generating activity for the farmer. He has 850 pineapple plants which are sold at Kshs. 50 each after harvesting.

The farmer narrates how planting cassava has helped his family have a continuous food supply

 

On this day both Komaza and non Komaza farmers were invited to come and learn from this farmer. The day also served as a forum for collaboration with other stake holders including the local administration and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Representative from the Ministry of Agriculture

Representative from the local administration

 

It was also an opportunity for the office staffs in Kilifi office including the top management to have a feel of what the field staff go through and be able to learn the ideal field situations. Best practices among the farmer and other farmers too were rewarded.

A farmer receives awards from Travis, KOMAZA’s Technology Manager

A Farmer receives an award from KOMAZA’s Country Director

 

Well, having told and shown the farmers the way, we have to remain persistent and encourage them more to take up on the best practices. After all, “what one farmer can do others can do better!!!”

First Mahogany Farm

Komaza is excited to share photos of our current April 2013 planting season.  This season we embark on planting our first 10 mahogany (melia volkensii) tree farms.  We are diversifying beyond our flagship eucalyptus into this indigenous, drought-resistant, termite-resistant tree.  It has been a difficult tree to germinate from seed and our Nursery team had gotten frustrated. Nonetheless, diligently experimenting with new techniques since October 2012, they’ve finally “cracked the nut” and achieved germination success rates above 90% (higher than any previously established rate in the industry)!  The nursery germinated enough seeds to plant 196 trees on each farm.  We share with you the planting day pictures from the first farm.

Melia volkensii requires larger potting soil bags than eucalyptus seedlings so we used these wooden crates to transport the seedlings to the farm.

The truck was loaded with both eucalyptus seedlings and the wooden crates of melia volkensii.

 

Field Officer in Mwahera location, Francisco Mwayele, shows the farmer, Raphael Wepukulu, how to carefully remove the potting bag from the roots of the seedling.

The farmer’s wife, Ruth Nafula Kundu, receives instruction from Mwahera sub-location Facilitator, Thomas Mwananje, on how to remove the seedling with care.

Francisco and Raphael place the first seedling into the ground.

Thomas and Raphael fill the hole with dirt and pack it firmly around the seedling.

Raphael gives the new seedling plenty of water.

Raphael and Ruth are proud to be the first Komaza farmers to successfully plant a melia volkensii farm. They have done such a good job with their eucalyptus trees (as seen in the background) that Komaza was happy to give them an opportunity to plant melia volkensii.

A new house from coppices

In 2011 Komaza executed a trial tree-thinning operation with a handful of farmers in Tezo.  We knew the trees would re-grow as coppices after cutting them and that’s indeed what’s been happening for 2 years.  Some of the coppices are already as tall as the original trees!  The following photo shows one of our Tezo farmers, Pahe Kaingu, standing next to her original trees planted in 2008.

Komaza thinned 30% of her farm and she is pictured standing next to some of those thinned trees.

This farmer made use of her coppices by cutting some and building a new house for herself.

She built the pictured mud house 3 months ago.  The house features palm frond roofing and mud walls.

But a close-up of the mud walls reveals that the mud is attached to wood framing.  The wood framing is the coppiced Komaza trees!  Quite an impressive feat of engineering, don’t you agree?!

Happy & healthy 2012 trees

Last week I paid a visit to several 2012 farmers to check on tree growth since October planting.  The region has received good rainfall since October so I was hoping to find happy & healthy trees.  I was not disappointed.   I joined the Kauma/Jaribuni team at a farm in Chonyi which was planted on October 14, 2012.  The tallest trees on the farmer’s plot have already reached midriff height, as you can see below, after only 3 months.

And lest this be thought an isolated farm in an isolated spot, we also visited a farm in Mtsara Wa Tsatsu where the climate is significantly drier albeit only 30 miles away from Chonyi. This farm also features trees reaching to midriff height.  And notice the cowpeas inter-cropped on this Mtsara Wa Tsatsu farm.  The cowpeas we provide serve three functions: as weed control for the trees, as an extra source of food, and as a short-term income-generating cash crop for the farmers.

 

 

 

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