Farmer who has made TOF his farming bible

Since he came across his first copy of The Organic Farmer magazine, Joab Marrow has religiously put into practice what he has learnt, not only increasing his crop yields and income but also training other farmers. Three years ago Joab Marrow, a farmer from Nzoia Scheme attended a field day organized by Star Rays Education Centre in Likuyani Division of Lugari District in Kakamega County.

During the field day, he came across tissue culture bananas and developed an interest in growing them. At the centre, Marrow came across past copies of The Organic Farmer magazine. From the magazine he learnt more about tissue culture bananas and even got the contact of Jomo Kenyatta University College of Agriculture where he could buy tissue culture banana seedlings. He also attended a training session on how to grow them. After the training, he immediately placed an order for 143 seedlings, which, he planted. The bananas did well and within a year, he ordered an additional 80 seedlings.

Within a short time, marrow had established himself as a successful banana farmer. Farmers from neighbouring farms flocked to his farm to buy tissue culture banana seedlings and learn more about banana production and other agricultural enterprises. Due to his knowledge on banana production, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO, formerly KARI) Kitale have made his a model farm where they train other farmers on tissue culture banana production among other enterprises.

On realizing that banana price were not giving farmers good returns, The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has come in through the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project (KAPPAP) has stepped in to train farmers on marketing of their agricultural produce and value addition. Instead of selling bananas in bunches, the farmers have been trained to sell fingers and even do value addition such as preparation of banana crisps.

Formed CBO and a SACCO

Together with other farmers in the, Marrow has registered Sinoko Development Organisation, A CBO that aims at educating farmers in the region on modern farming methods that will help increase yields and income. “We have discovered that we can be able to uplift the earnings and standards of living for the majority of our members by training them on various agribusiness enterprises such as banana production, rearing chickens and dairy farming “ he adds.

Plan for value addition

To this end the farmers have formed the Likuyani Mwangaza SACCO that will encourage farmers to save their earning from various agricultural enterprises. The SACCO already has 400 members drawn from Likuyani and the neighbouring counties of Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma and Kakamega. The farmers plan to set up processing plants for their farm products to add value and increase earnings for their members.

Read and adopted conservation agriculture

     The TOF edition that carried article on                     Conservation Agriculure
 

Marrow receives every monthly issue of The Organic Farmer, which he carefully files for future reference. Using the various technologies and information obtained from the magazine, Marrow has become an expert farmer and trainer. Farmers now consult him on every problem they encounter. Agricultural institutions have also recognized his interest and passion for farming and are now using him to train other farmers in the region.  When Marrow read about the benefits of Conservation Agriculture (CA) in The Organic Farmer magazine, he bought a jab planter and a ripper and used the method in maize production last year, “through this method I have managed to increase my maize production from the 8 bags I was harvesting previously to 15 bags from one acre in 2014. My target in 2015 is to get at least 35 bags,” he says.

Last year, the Participatory Approach For Intergrated Development- Conservation Agriculture Regional Programme (PAFID-CARP), a regional organization that promotes conservation agriculture in East and Southern Africa wanted to find a model farmer who has adopted the practice, they were directed to Marrow’s farm where they were so impressed with what he was doing that they donated an ox-drawn ripper that he intends to use this year for in land preparation.

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I was recently invited to a workshop where results of a study on factors influencing household adoption of renewable energy technologies in rural Kenya by the National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND). The study was commissioned with support from KIRDI and the Swedish Embassy in Kenya.