Crop rotation - a double benefit
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CTA. 2002. Crop rotation - a double benefit. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57451
The Assistant Director of the Kenya Institute of Organic Farming describes the crop rotation techniques that they teach, and the need for a national certifying body in order to support organic farmers.
Crop rotation - a double benefit Cue: If you mention organic farming, most people think of using compost and manure instead of chemical fertilizers. But there is much more to organic farming than that. One very important method for organic farmers is crop rotation. By planting a sequence of different crops over a period of three or four seasons, farmers can gain two major benefits: firstly, they can maintain the fertility of their soil; secondly, they can reduce the number of pests and diseases that attack their crops. To find out more about how crop rotation works, Eric Kadenge visited the Kenya Institute of Organic Farming, a centre which trains farmers and extension officers in organic farming practices. He spoke to the assistant director, Lois Chege, about the training her institute is providing, and the challenges that face organic farmers in Kenya. IN: ?Organic farming has different ? OUT: ? hope for the future.? DUR?N 4?56? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: That report was from Eric Kadenge at the Kenya Institute of Organic Farming. Transcript Chege Organic farming has different techniques that we train the farmers and the extension staff, and most of these techniques involve tillage. The other main thing that we train people is about composting from different animals and also from vegetation. We have realised that to overcome the issue of pests and diseases we can only be able to do so effectively by using a crop rotation programme, so we advise depending on what types of crop are suitable for which area and which soils. Kadenge Now I would be very interested in hearing one sequence of different crops in order to control pests. Chege The first thing that you consider, you have to consider how fertile is your soil. By this you have to apply compost in your soil. Then after that you decide which part you want to put maybe a crop like maize. A crop like maize is a heavy feeder; it requires a lot of nutrients such that when it grows it will take away a lot of nutrients from the soil. So the following season that comes, you can not return to any crop that is in the family of heavy feeders, like kales or cabbage. What you will return to is a legume crop, because they are nitrogen fixers. That means they will be contributing towards the soil fertility in terms of nitrogen. Then the following season, you will come back with a moderate feeder; maybe tomatoes, maybe eggplants, peppers, they are moderate feeders. Then the final season you will have to put a light feeder, such as carrots or sweet potatoes. That is usually the sequence. But when you are also considering the following seasons to come, if you have grown an eggplant, you cannot replace the following season with a pepper, because they are in the same family. What you do is you have to look for a crop that is of a different family, that does not share the same pests and diseases. Why we are doing this is to break the pest and disease cycle that is always built up by farmers every year, all round. Kadenge And how about the disadvantages that this kind of farming has; what are they? Chege The first disadvantage that I will talk about is lack of market for organic produce. Most of our farmers have produce already in their farms which are organically grown, but they cannot find a market for organic products. This means they are selling their products to the common market. Organic foods or products should fetch a higher price because it is healthy food in itself, and at the moment our farmers are just fetching the local prices that are existing within our markets. So we are hoping that if we would have a certifying body, already we have started working on the organic Kenyan standards, and these standards are going to help our farmers to have regulations by which they should farm, and then if we have this certifying body, they will use the standards to certify the products for our farmers. Kadenge So what you would like to see if a certifying body which is Kenyan? Chege Yes. We as the organic farmers, we have tried to initiate such a body, and it is already registered; we call it Kenya Organic Farmers Association. And this is why we have initiated to start formulation of the Kenyan organic standards, so that in line with this, the Kenya Organic Farmers Association then can be able to be accredited by other bodies. At the moment the situation is that in Kenya we have no policy that promotes organic farming, so we are hoping this is going to take place. Kadenge So to sum up, how would you say organic farming is doing here in Kenya in comparison to conventional farming? Chege Organic farming here in Kenya is growing very fast. We used to be opposed, but now we are a friend to everybody. We have so many visitors visiting us, and this is a reflection to tell us that we have a broad future for this organic farming in Kenya. And if our government would open room and support this organic farming, it has a very positive room to grow. And if I compare it with conventional, conventional is declining in terms of, it has become very expensive for a local farmer to afford. For you to grow a crop in a farm, you have to really put a lot of inputs which a farmer is hardly affording, especially at this time when our economy is very low. So organic farming is the hope for the future. End of track.