March 11, 2012

The shamba project

 In Kenya, the majority of people lives in rural areas. Many of them practice subsistence farming and depend on regular annual rainfalls. In the past, many areas of Kenya have been regularly affected by droughts and crops have dried up. People had to buy their staple foods from the shops which many of them can hardly afford since their incomes are low and the food prices have been driven up by inflation. During "good" rainy seasons the rains often come in heavy downpours: young seedlings are drowned and topsoil is washed away; or insects invade the fields and destroy the crops.

Maize is a Kenyan staple crop. But it needs high amounts of fertilizer and water to do well. Hence maize is among those crops that dry up fast when the rains don´t come at the right time or in sufficient quantity.

Members of the umbrella organization and the Gaketha group have started a pilot project to grow a drought-tolerant sorghum variety. In addition, they will plant sweet potato vines and cassava tree cuttings which they will get from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Embu. These varieties will take only 3 months to mature.
Mugo has donated a part of his land for the project. All crops will be grown organically. 

The land has been cleared.

a lesson on contour leveling

A board member learns how to use a spirit level.

Mr. Njue digs terraces along the contour lines.

breaking down the soil for easier planting and germination

adding manure
measuring the distance between the planting holes

cassava cuttings and sorghum seeds from KARI

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