Farmer reaping the benefits of organic farming

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Through reading the TOF magazine and support from field staff from Katoloni CBO, Joseph Mbithi has used sustainable farming practices to improve his crops' yields and income. Joseph Mbithi is a farmer and a leader of Kavyuni Self Help Group Water Project, in Kaiti Constituency in Makueni County.

He has managed to increase his farms productivity and income by applying information he read in the TOF magazine.

“My life has changed as I’m able to provide food for my family. Through use of information published in TOF magazine and training received from staff based at the Katoloni Mission Community Based Organisation (CBO) in Machakos County, I have learnt how to harvest runoff water during the rainy season and use cover crops and other organic materials for mulching and soil fertility improvement,” he says.

Mbithi, has been visiting theKatoloni centre since early 2013. From what he has learnt, he can now make zai pits, watersheds and furrows to harvest rainwater, which he has used to grow various crops. He now applies charcoal remains (Biochar), farmyard manure and green manure from his farm to improve soil fertility and improve soil water retention.

When the Katoloni Biovision staff visited him in February this year, upon invitation by his group, Mbithi proudly showed the group his farm, on which he now grows mangoes, onions, tomatoes, watermelons, maize, eggplants, chilli, and French beans. When it is dry, the farmer draws water from a dam, 800 metres away from his home using a donkey. The earth dam was constructed by the community under his leadership.

“In spite of poor rainfall in this region, I am sure of getting a good harvest from my 1 acre shamba of water melons. This will give me about Ksh 26,000 this season,” he says. In addition to the use of biochar and manure to improve soil fertility, Mbithi also uses organic foliar fertilizers manufactured by Wanda Organic Ltd, an organic fertilizer company.

This combination of organic inputs plus use of fertile silt soil deposited by run-off water has been giving me good results of production even with the little rainfall we receive in this region. The Organic Farmer magazine has given me all these important tips, I treasure it like my Bible,” he says. In the near future, Mbithi plans to establish an organic demonstration centre on his farm to benefit the community. Katoloni mission staff has agreed to support him including neighbouring groups to start a demonstration farm.

“Joseph is a very resourceful person. We have agreed to collaborate with him, as a point man from Makueni side to work with another leader from Kitui County to train other farmers. This is to ensure that we cover the lower Eastern region of Machakos County," says Victoria Mutinda who is the Biovision Farmer Communication Programme (FCP) trainer in the region.

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