Kitchen gardens are important for food security

Many counties in Kenya have resources to produce highly nutritious food, yet food and nutrition insecurity is still a problem. A community-based organization (CBO) – Sustainable Income Generating Investment (SINGI), working closely with Biovision Farmer Communication Programme - Outreach Project and The Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative (EOA) is helping farmers deal with food and nutrition insecurity by providing capacity building trainings to farmers groups in Matayos Sub-County, Busia County.

SINGI extension workers comprising of William Buluma, Pamela Otieno, and Bonventure Buluma, demonstrate various ecological organic agricultural technologies and methods. One such technologies, is the kitchen garden technology. Kitchen garden technology allows households to grow various nutrient-rich food crops with local resources under challenging circumstances like acidic soils, drought, and erratic rainfall, among others.

Through demonstrations, SINGI extension workers have shown farmers how to test and confirm the usefulness of improved cultural methods like organic farming, how to handle and manage different kinds of soils and crops and how to test new and improved varieties of agricultural crops and animal breeds. They have also shown the larger community new farming technologies and methods like the kitchen gardening.

Farmer groups adopting organic farming

Esikoma Ushirika Self Help Group has embraced organic ecological agriculture and is working to improve soil fertility and water conservation by practicing many crop management technologies. These include multicropping, companion planting, agro-forestry, ecological pest management, animal husbandry, and kitchen gardening technologies.

The growth and popularity of kitchen gardens has been the partnership between SINGI and Bioversity International, to implement the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition (BFN) Project. This is a five-year multi-country project working to strengthen the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity. It has created awareness of biodiversity for dietary diversity, built capacity of households to grow, process, and preserve various highly nutritious foods. Farmers have been motivated to use organic ecological methods to protect their environmental and ensure food security.

The SINGI extension workers working in collaboration with experts from Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). Through their effort, they have reached over 4,000 small-scale farmers in Matayos Sub-County. The work of SINGI is exemplified by the achievements of Esikoma Ushirika Self Help Group, a group of thirty farmers in Matayos Sub-County who united to learn, share, and practice new agricultural techniques and methods on a 30m X 30m demonstration plot.

Article submitted by Musdalafa Lyaga, the TOF Radio Assistant and Alessandra Grasso, a MSPH Candidate 2015, International Health- Human Nutrition - Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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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.