The Organic Farmer The newspaper for sustainable agriculture in Kenya Nr. 13 May, 2006 Weeds reduce your harvest Dear farmers, Kenyan farmers believe agriculture is Weeds cause great loss to farmers the most important economic activity if they are not controlled early and in the country. Most farmers would disposed in the right way. like to transform this sector into a sus- The Organic Farmer tainable mode of production that helps to improve the living conditions of their Like a thief who steals in the night, rural communities. Many have formed weeds take away a large portion of a farmers’ groups and even established farmer's crop yield if they are not Savings and Credit Cooperatives controlled on time and in the right (SACCOs) to attain these goals. But way. Every year, smallscale farmers they are frustrated in their quest for in Kenya and in most African coun- better returns due to lack of reliable tries lose between 15 and 90 percent markets for their agricultural produce. of their crop due to weeds. Research These are some of the insights we have shows that farmers can harvest up to gathered after going through the 2.6 tonnes of maize per acre if they answers to the questionnaires we sent practised timely and proper weed out to you. Hundreds of farmers com- control methods. However, the aver- pleted the questionnaires and sent them age maize yield in most parts of the back to us. We are very grateful and country is 0.8 tonnes per acre which thank you all for making this exercise a is a result of poor weed management, space. They also shelter pests and success. among other factors. diseases that attack the crops. The analysis of the questionnaires (see One of the causes of this loss is lack Hottensiah Mwangi, a weed scien- page 2) was an interesting and instruc- of knowledge on the dangers posed tist at the Kenya Agricultural tive experience for this newspaper. Not by weeds in our farms today. Unlike Research Institute (KARI), says many only do the farmers appreciate the diseases or pests, weeds do not show farmers do not regard weeds as a information we give in The Organic any symptoms, but they compete for major problem. After planting their Farmer, they also put into practice the essential nutrients that the crops crops, they ignore the weeds and many useful tips we give in every issue. need for proper growth. They take only start weeding after the weeds The feedback from the farmers points light and water from the crops and have completely covered the crop, out areas that need improvement. One push them out of their growing which by then have taken away the of the recommendations is that the nutrients, light and water that would Government needs to do more in sup- in this issue have been utilized by the crop. The port of agriculture, mainly through crop becomes weak, in the process rehabilitation of roads and provision of Farmers’ pride 2 reducing the overall yield. According credit to smallscale farmers. Although Even without resources, Kenyan to Hottensiah Mwangi, smallscale all farmers are happy with the informa- farmers like the occupation. farmers weed late because they have tion we give on crop production, many to work elsewhere to raise money for feel that we need more coverage on the Indigenous vegetables 6 other pressing needs such as food for Amaranthus is rich problems facing the livestock sector. We the family. have responded to this request immedi- in nutrients. Poor weeding methods also play an ately, as you can see on page 5. Agroforestry 8 important role in promoting the Fodder tree crops have many regeneration of weeds. "When weed- Close to 94 percent of the farmers who advantages for a farmer. ing, many farmers tend to cut down answered the questionnaires would like weeds, such as couch grass, into us to organize workshops where they small pieces which are then thrown can gain more experience in organic Deworming farming. Due to our limited resources, away around the farm. Many of these weeds do not die but instead sprout we may not be able to organize such and spread", Hottensiah Mwangi training courses at the present time. adds. Careless disposal of weeds The newspaper is already giving you a after weeding is another factor lot of practical information on farming. responsible for weed transfer from What we request of you farmers is to one part of the farm to the other. ensure that you work together, share Many farmers throw weeds by the your experiences among yourselves roadside after weeding. These weeds and with those who have not under- Regular deworming of livestock is stood the benefits of organic farming. In important to improve their health are then washed away by run-off water to other farms where they this way we will build a strong organic and production. See page 4 farming community in the country. grow and spread. See page 3 2 The Organic Farmer Nr. 13 May 2006 MY OPINION Farmers like their occupation By Michael Korkoren The readers of our newspaper have dren to look for a job outside of the The long rains are here with us to struggle hard, since every shamba agricultural sector. These farmers again. It is so good to stand outside has to feed an average of 9 people. have quite a strong point: salaried and watch the green surroundings employment in industries or in of my home. The shamba is flush The Organic Farmer offices provides a regular income - if with the young maize and beans one can find employment! planted a few weeks ago. The ani- When a newspaper like The Organic Lack of credit mals also seem to rejoice in the new Farmer carries out a survey of its readers, it is not because the editors Our farmers are well organized. Four pastures that have just sprouted. out of five farmers are members of a Now is the time to fulfill all the are curious or are trying to spy through the keyhole. Rather, we farmers’ group. Unfortunately, mem- promises the government made to bership to SACCOs (savings and counter the effects of drought. for want to know a few things: Who are we writing for? What are their needs? credit organizations) shows a differ- instance to build dams and give farmers seeds. But now that the sit- What are their problems? Can they be ent picture. Even though the farmers uation has improved, these things solved with the information we give? underline the importance of SAC- have been forgotten. But remember, How can a newspaper like The COs, only one-third are members. the next disaster is waiting. Organic Farmer help to improve the This attitude should change, because income of smallscale farmers? SACCOs provide affordable credit to Michael Korkoren, Farmer, Kapsabet smallscale farmers. One of the big The questionnaires we received challenges facing smallscale farmers from you farmers gave us the The Organic Farmer is the lack of credit to improve pro- answers to all these questions. We duction in their farms. That is why The Organic Farmer is an independent sent out 500 questionnaires, and 323 we urge you farmers to join a SACCO newspaper for the Kenyan farming farmers answered and sent the ques- and to support each other in access- community. It promotes organic tionnaires back to us. We thank you, ing credit for farm development. farming and supports discussions on the farmers, for the feedback! In this all aspects of sustainable develop- first article we will inform you about Organic farming is widespread ment. The Organic Farmer is pub- the social structure of our readers. In About a third, or 100 farmers lished monthly by ICIPE the June issue of The Organic Farmer responding, have an additional job, and distributed free to we shall write about the critiques on and only 102 can rely on a relative farmers. The reports of The our newspaper and the areas in (son or daughter) working in town. Organic Farmer do not nec- which the farmers want us to Only 10 percent use an irrigation sys- essarily reflect the views of improve. tem. More than half of the farmers ICIPE. have a mobile phone, and one-third Proud to be farmers The Organic Farmer is sponsored by own a bicycle. Our farmers live an Most of our readers truly are BioVision, a Swiss based founda- average distance of 6.8 km away from smallscale farmers. There are huge tion for the promotion of sustain- the nearest market, a walking dis- differences in the size of the shambas. able development. tance that takes 55 minutes. This Shambas vary from 0.8 acres to 19 explains why so many farmers com- www.biovision.ch acres (0.32 to 7.6 hectares). On aver- plain of the bad roads interfering age, our readers own a shamba of with marketing of their produce. Publisher 4.74 acres (1.9 ha) and 9 people live One-third of the farmers practise International Centre of Insect on the income from the shamba (We conventional farming, and two-thirds Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) calculated these averages by adding P.O.Box 30772, 00100 Nairobi use a mixed system of organic and together the total of the sizes of the KENYA conventional production methods. shambas or the numbers of depen- Tel. +254 20 863 2000 The main crops planted by most dants or animals of all responding e-mail: email@example.com farmers are maize and beans, half of farmers together, and dividing it by homepage: http://www.icipe.org which are sold and therefore con- the number of responding farmers). Editors tribute to the farmer’s income. Nearly The families have on average 4 to 5 Peter Kamau, Peter Baumgartner two-thirds of the farmers sell their children, and the farmers are very Secretariat products through middlemen, while eager to send them to school. Lucy W. Macharia only 10 percent sell directly to Most farmers are proud of their schools, churches or similar institu- Advisory Board occupation. They would also like to Dr. Bernhard Löhr, ICIPE tions. The farmers who responded to see their children become farmers, our survey own on average 3.7 cows, Dr. Nguya Maniania, ICIPE because they believe farming is one Dr. Fritz Schulthess, ICIPE 2.5 goats, 2.3 sheep and 7.9 chickens. of the careers that provides self- This explains why farmers have Charles Kimani, Farmer, Wangige employment. Many of the people Address requested the newspaper to write answering our questionnaire showed more articles on livestock keeping. If The Organic Farmer a preference for agriculture since P.O.Box 14352, 00800 Nairobi you look at page 4 in this issue, you they know it is the mainstay of will see we have done exactly that. KENYA Kenya’s economy; other reasons Tel. +254 020 445 03 98 We will have more articles on live- given was for food selfsufficiency stock health in future issues. e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org and the possibility of earning an extra Layout June issue: what farmers want to read income from food sales. Only 10 per- In-A-Vision Systems(k) in our newspaper. cent of our farmers advice their chil- Nr. 13 May 2006 The Organic Farmer 3 Increasing yields through strict weeding If a farmer does not control weeds Source: Conservation Agriculture IIRR, 2005 early and in the right way crop yields are drastically reduced. The Organic Farmer A weed is any crop that grows where it is not needed. Weeds compete with cultivated crops for nutrients, mois- ture, sunlight, and space. They shel- ter pests and diseases that attack the crop while reducing crop yields and farmers' income. In Kenya, ploughing the land is the most common practice used by the farmers to control weeds. They plough several times to remove weeds during land preparation. What they do not know is that ploughing buries many weed seeds. At the same time, it brings Mulch suppresses weeds, so saves time No mulch? You spend a lot of time other seeds buried in the soil to the when you prepare the field for planting preparing the field and fighting weeds! surface where they germinate. Tractor them in their early stages of growth. A before they can grow. The farmer and ox-drawn ploughs also play a farmer should not allow weeds to should select cover crops that have major role in spreading weeds in culti- compete with their crop. If they are left several uses, for example food crops, vated fields. The plough cuts down the long enough to produce seeds, weeds fodder crops or those that provide fire- weeds and pulls them along, as it is tend to reproduce fast, making it even wood. Cover crops such as lablab can pulled by the tractor or oxen. The more difficult to control them. Weeds cover the soil completely in two small pieces are then spread across the need slashing, even after harvesting, to months. field. They grow vegetatively and stop them from producing and setting It is important to weed once in order cover parts of the farm that were pre- seed. to give the cover crop a chance to get viously weed-free. Burning crop Control methods established. If the rainy season is long residues may also stimulate the Minimum tillage is a system of agri- enough, farmers can schedule the growth of some types of weeds. culture that ensures the soil is dis- planting of a cover crop such that it In organic farming and conservation turbed less during cultivation. If this will remain in the field even after the agriculture, weed control is very system is used, most of the buried main crop has been harvested. The important. If a farmer does not control weed seeds are not brought to the sur- cover crop spreads over the soil, sup- weeds properly, they may spread to a face. pressing the weeds. Good cover crops point where crop yields are drastically Good cover crops spread over the include desmodium. reduced. It is always wise to control soil quickly and suppress the weeds Mulching Weed seeds germinate easily if the soil Useful tips on weed control is bare. Crop residues left on the sur- 1. Slash weeds immediately after the 7. Harvest the main crop and allow face as mulch makes it hard for weeds harvest and during the dry season the cover crop to grow. to grow because they do not have to prevent them from producing 8. Continue checking for weeds and enough space or light. Farmers should seeds. pull them out before they can take care to ensure that the mulch does 2. Before you plant, slash any plants flower and seed. not kill the young crop seedlings. The (weeds, cover crop, stalks left over 9. Harvest the cover crop seeds. You mulch will not only manage weeds; it from the previous crop) in the need them for the next season. will also reduce the soil temperatures, field. 10. Crush the mixture of crop conserve moisture, facilitate water to 3. Dig planting holes with a hoe or residues and cover crops using a sink and add organic stuff into the soil. open planting furrows with a rip- sickle, panga, knife roller or any Crop rotation and Intercropping per or subsoiler. other implement 3 weeks before Planting a different crop in each field 4. After the first rains have fallen, you expect the first rains to begin. than the one grown previously breaks allow weeds to grow or new the life cycle of weeds. There are fewer If a farmer controls the weeds regu- weeds to emerge. Then weed weeds, and they are easier to control. larly, they should be easier to control in them out before planting. Intercropping helps cover the soil later seasons. Remember it can take 3 5. Plant a cover crop between the and smother weeds that grow to 5 years for the number of weeds in rows of the main crop. between the rows of the main crop. the soil to be reduced to a minimum. 6. Check for weeds every week and A farmer can pull out weeds by control them by pulling them out However it is important to check for hand; slash them with a panga, sickle by hand or scraping the soil sur- weeds continuously and to pull out or slasher. Try not to disturb the soil face with a hoe. Do not disturb the any that try to sprout. If this is done, too much if you use a hoe or other soil too much. weed control will be less work. implements. 4 The Organic Farmer Nr. 13 May 2006 Worm control improves livestock health Farmers should not treat their animals for worms without seeking veterinary advice. The Organic Farmer Control of worms in his cattle and sheep was for many years a problem to Johnson Mwaura, a farmer in Kiambogo farm in the Molo area of Nakuru district. The cost of de- worming drugs was not only pro- hibitive, but also he did not know how to administer the drugs. But three years ago, a neighbour who is also a senior official in the Depart- ment of Veterinary Services advised him to try “Pymac,”a by-product of pyrethrum which is also used as ani- Johnson Mwaura uses Pymac to fight worms in his animals. (Photo TOF) mal feed. He also taught him other preventive deworming procedures. all types of diseases. They lose this and are likely to administer the weight and their milk production is wrong drugs for worm control, he Pyrethrum by-product helps drastically reduced. He says worms says. Farmers should know that a “Every day I feed my animals with can also get entangled in the animal’s limited number of parasites help the Pymac which I mix with maize bran intestines where they cause block- animals develop resistance to re- to reduce the bitter taste. The health ages. infection. of my cows and sheep has improved The common symptoms of worm Natural remedies for worm control tremendously. I would recommend it infestation are a rough hair coat – the Organic farming encourages the use to any farmer who wants to control animal’s hair comes off easily. Some of natural remedies for worm control. worms in their livestock,” Mwaura worms cause diarrhoea, while others Apart from Pymac, neem cake is also says. cause swelling in the lower jaw. a good natural dewormer. Many Many farmers do not take the prob- Young animals have a swollen stom- communities in Kenya have indige- lem of worm control in their livestock ach and may even die if they are not nous knowledge of plant based prepa- seriously, yet worms play a big role in treated on time. rations for worm control. According livestock health in many parts of the country. Livestock owners do not Advice from veterinary personnel to research undertaken by the Practical give the right doses, which has led to Dr. Kikuvi is quick to add that farm- Action NGO (formerly ITDG) Turkana worms developing resistance to some ers should not rush to buy worm and Samburu communities use three of the drugs in the market. According drugs whenever they observe these plants to control worms. These are to Dr. Gideon Kikuvi from the Kenya symptoms in their livestock. Indeed, Myrsine Africana (Segetetich-Kalenjin, Veterinary Laboratories, farmers he says the major problem now fac- Mugaita-Kikuyu) Albizia anthelmintica under-estimate the danger of worms. ing the Department is that farmers do (Mwowa or Kyalundathi-Kamba) and not consult veterinary personnel the Hilderbrandtia sepalosa (Jirmach- Worms reduce milk production whenever their animals are affected; Orma or Mtikiti- Kiswahili). However Animals infested with worms are it is recommended that herbal instead, they buy and administer the often in very poor body condition; deworming is done together with drugs themselves. they are weak, thin and vulnerable to other worm management procedures He says the danger here is that Useful tips there are different types of worms that reduce infestation in non-affected and each of these requires a different livestock. • Farmers should deworm their ani- mode of treatment. For example, an Pasture management mals two weeks after the onset of animal could be suffering from tape- Dr. Kikuvi says farmers should ensure the rains. This ensures the worms worms but a farmer may administer that adult cows and sheep are sepa- do not compete for nutrients with a drug for liverflukes. Although there rated from the calves and lambs. The the animals when the pasture is are drugs that kill many types of reason for this separation is to ensure available. In many areas, this worms, he says it is only the veteri- that the young animals which are should be in the March - April and nary personnel who know which more vulnerable to worms are pro- October- November short rains. types of worms are common in an tected. This means that if the adult • Farmers should also deworm at area and who are the only people cows are grazing in paddock A, then the onset of dry season (Novem- qualified to administer the correct calves should be assigned paddock B. ber-December), during this period drugs at the right dosage. Liver- If the adults are to be moved to pad- there is little pasture, so this prac- flukes, for instance are common in dock B, then the calves should be tice ensures that the animals uti- farms located in swampy areas moved to C and so on. In this way, the lize all the nutrients they can get because the worm resides in snails adult animals cannot expose the from the limited pasture instead of during part of its life cycle. Many young ones to worms found in the sharing it with parasitic worms. farmers in such areas may not know dung. Nr. 13 May 2006 The Organic Farmer 5 New methods to fight bacterial wilt Planting mustard in rotation gation. This practice reduces the inci- controls bacterial wilt in dence of bacterial wilt in heavily potatoes and tomatoes. infested soils from 50-100%, depend- ing on the soil structure. It seems to Anne B. Nganga work better on sandy and light soils than on heavy clay soils, but research Bacterial wilt in potatoes and tomatoes is ongoing, so the method will be fur- is a big problem for farmers in Kenya. ther tested and developed in Australia So far the only control methods have and in the Philippines. been to use clean seed and use of fields that have not yet become contami- Reduction by 70 % nated by the disease. This is because Bio-fumigation is the process whereby the disease stays in the soil for a very naturally occurring chemicals called long time infecting any susceptible isothiocyanates are released from bras- Mustard, crops planted there. sica crops (cabbage family). They sup- an old medicinal plant The Australian Center for Interna- press soil-borne organisms such as the The mustard family belongs to the tional Agricultural Research has dis- bacterial wilt. Brassica genus, which also includes covered a method they call bio-fumi- How do the chemicals get out of the broccoli, cabbage, sukumawiki plants and into the soil? The answer is (kale), cauliflower, turnips and short: The chemicals are released Crop rotation when the cell walls of the fresh plant radishes. Mustard is one of the oldest spices and one of the most widely is important are broken down. Chopping plants used. The Chinese used mustard very finely is the best possible option. A strict crop rotation with non-sus- thousands of years ago and the But there still remain large pieces of ceptible plants such as corn, beans ancient Greeks considered it an unbroken leaves in the field. Phillip- and cabbage, provides some control everyday spice. The first medical pine farmers use a rotary hoe or rota- of bacterial wilt for at least three mention of it is in the Hippocratic vator to chop leaves and mix them into years. In the case of a brassica crop, writings, where it was used for gen- the soil. With this method, they reduce plant them immediately before you eral muscular relief. Even now, bacterial wilt by 50-70%. In Kenya, grow tomatoes, potatoes or tobacco. milled mustard seeds (mixed with Care should also be taken to ensure water) are used to treat rheumatism the seed potatoes planted come from and pain in the joints. a clean source. Before harvesting the If mustard can be used against bac- brassicas, broadcast, if possible, any terial wilt, we may suddenly get a brassica seeds available and let it huge demand for cheap mustard or grow to have a good soil cover. This other cheap brassica seeds, which can cover is then chopped finely into the be collected from the wild or grown ground along with the leftovers of for the purpose in a small plot in a your cabbages or broccoli. corner of the garden. Mustard pro- If the same crop is grown for sev- duces seed within a very short grow- eral consecutive years on the same ing period (usually 1-2 months). land, yields tend to decline (or more fertilizer will be needed to reach the seed of radish and mustard between same yield). Diseases are common the crop, immediately before planting and the yields are reduced. When the tomatoes or potatoes. Mustard is at different crops are grown in the same time a type of green manure, sequence in the same field, each crop which feeds the soil. uses the soil in its own particular Farmers have to prepare the soil well way and thus reduces the risk of in order to make the seeds germinate, nutrient depletion. A well-balanced grow and cover the soil as a lush green alternation of crop species also pre- Potatoe farmers incur huge losses due to blanket. Farmers can then chop these vents the development of soil-borne bactarial wilt (Photo TOF) plants into the soil just before planting diseases. Therefore, cultivation tomatoes or potatoes, bearing in mind pauses must be respected for the several trips over the field with a light that the leaves have to be hacked as same crop and among crops of the disc harrow would probably produce finely as possible. Other green same plant family. the same sort of result. manures may work as well, for To avoid the development of per- Mustard is very effective instance old cabbage stems and leaves sistent weeds, slow growing plants will help. Sweet potato vines seem to The scientists tried many different should be grown after crops with a have a good effect, even though they brassicas, and found that mustard (a good weed suppression. Change do not belong to the brassica family. common weed in most areas), radish crops with deep roots with those that Kenyan farmers with bacterial wilt and broccoli were the most efficient at have flat, shallow rooting systems problems should try out this method. reducing bacterial wilt in tomatoes which also helps to suppress the It might work not only in the Philip- and potatoes. They had very good suc- weeds. (See also page 3). pines, but also in Kenya. cess with throwing out handfuls of 6 The Organic Farmer Nr. 13 May 2006 Amaranth is healthy food Be careful with bird manure "We would like to grow Amaranth vegetables, but do not know how to Zachary Mwarari of Kilgoris has do it. How is it planted and tended? been advised that chicken manure if How can we get seeds?" asks Ronald mixed with fresh cow dung and Mokaya of Kinyagu Self Help Group comfrey leaves can make a good Box 995 Kitale foliar feed, when later on mixed with water and kept in an airtight con- tainer for three days. Does this Ronald, I am so glad to hear you preparation work? "I also want to want to grow Amaranth! Our indige- know how to make other organic nous vegetables are highly nutritious pesticides and herbicides. Can you and better for us than cabbage, as you advise?" will see from the table below. Apart from being easy and cheap to grow, Most organic material, when com- these less costly and more environ- posted or turned into a liquid tea, ment-friendly crops help in ensuring are good fertilizers. However, I stronger bones, lower blood pressure, would be cautious about using any fewer heart attacks, and less dia- of the animal manures as foliar betes, less constipation and hemor- applications. They are good as a top rhoids. Amaranth should be part of dressing, poured onto the soil sur- everyones diet, more so if we are ail- face. As a foliar feed, you risk not ing or recovering from illness. only burning of the leaves due to the high nitrogen content, but also con- Amaranth Amaranth improves nutrition (TOF) tamination of the crop with (Terere) Cabbage pathogens for instance E. Coli, a Iron 8.9 0.7 most successful crop was trans- very harmful bacterium. I would Protein (gm) 4.6 1.7 planted from a seed bed. Make sure rather use green manure teas, which Water % 84.0 91.4 your planting area is well prepared, are liquid manure made from the Caloris 42 26 incorporating plenty of well com- decomposition of green vegetation Carbohydrates 8.2 6.0 posted organic matter. When harvest- as foliar applications. The material Fibre (gm0 1.8 1.2 ing, remove the seed heads when used can be lucerne, tithonia, com- Vit C (M/G) 64 54 very young, otherwise the plant will frey, nettle, weeds or any other suit- Calcium (m/g) 410 47 stop producing leaves as it goes to able plant. A combination of these is Phosphorus (m/g) 103 40 seed. better than any one used singly. And B-Carotene (mcg) 5716 100 Amaranth seed when dried and you should use it within one week Thiamine (mg) 0.05 0.04 milled produces a very nutritious of preparation of the teas! Remem- Riboflavin (m/g) 0.42 0.10 porridge too! ber, foliar feeds on products like Seeds are available at the Kenya sukumawiki can be quite harmful if Composition per 100 gram of edible por- Seed Company and Simlaw Seeds. not washed properly, and this may tion of Amaranth compared with Cab- Soil fertility tip be the case during times of drought. bage. (Source: FAO) The Amaranth root structure is very I personally feel also that we must As can be seen from the table, Ama- beneficial in improving your soil be very cautious about our use of ranth is a much better source of min- structure for the crop following in chicken and poultry manure, due to erals and vitamins than cabbage and rotation. A root crop would be a good the current Bird Flu epidemic. has over 50 times as much B-carotene choice as a follow-on crop. Ama- which is an antioxidant known to be ranth can also be used as a green contact with the NGO, Strategic useful for good health. manure when dug back into the soil. Poverty Alleviation Systems, PO Box Planting can be done direct from the •Farmers who would like to know 7795, 00200 Nairobi, e-mail: seeds. However, because Amaranth more about Amaranth, should get in email@example.com has a deep and wide hairy root struc- ture, it will battle for nutrients if grown with very close spacing. My What can I do against black ants? Benjamin Lugano, Box 585, Kitale has a problem with black ants in his pas- sion fruit garden. "I know they are beneficial because they eat aphids in the Su Kahumbu vines, but then they also sap the water from the fruits and in the process cause answers your damage. How can I control them?" questions Benjamin, your problem is actually duce a sweet sticky substance, called caused by the aphids. The ants are "honeydew". This is what the ants are Write to merely taking advantage of the aphid after. The ants become destructive The Organic Farmer population. Contrary to what you when they carry the aphids to other P.O. Box 14352 believe, the ants do not feed on the plants and in the process transfer any 00800 Nairobi Kenya aphids; they "herd" the aphid and other diseases or virus present on the Tel: 020 445 03 98, 0721 541 590 "milk" them like cattle. The aphids host plant. If you reduce the aphid e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org suck the sap from the plants and pro- population, the ants will disappear. If continues on page 7 Nr. 13 May 2006 The Organic Farmer 7 Story on seeds helped us Strengthening agriculture Dear Farmers, I would like to congratulate you for We here at Ukambani Christian Com- As part of our efforts to serve 0 72 your effort to make us more knowl- munity services are happy to have the organic farming commu- nity effectively, we would 15 edgeable in farming, keep it up. I received several copies of the organic came across your March issue farmer newspaper January 2006 like to create a database of 41 through a neighbour, after reading a issue. Thanks a lot and there materi- organic farmers in the country. We are interested in: 590 topic on seeds I was really impressed als will strengthen our sustainable because we only rely on local ones agriculture component in training -Your names, called 'moshi'. If the shops do not and sensitizing our farmers in this -Addresses, Location, have genuine labels as we saw in the semi arid area of Kenya, as the coun- -Farm acreage, picture then we do not buy the seeds. try goes organic in farming. This is an -Are you an organic farmer? Already I have sent a letter to the assurance that the information and To make it easy for you, we have a western seed company and the lot experiences will be disseminated to special telephone number: given number I planted. With this remarks the farmers and be of help. Thanks above. All the farmers can provide I say thank you for enlightening the again for being associated with you. these information through short mes- farming community. My group We need more support and collabora- saging service (SMS). Come on Farm- through you will benefit. Thank you. tion in terms of material and experi- ers, Tuma jibu. Asante. Mark Otieno Owuor, P.O Box 45, ence sharing. Homabay Tel. 0735 691140 John Mutua, For Director UCCS SMS ONLY email: email@example.com Copies not enough We use newspaper to Thank you for the farmers' newspa- Learning new methods per you sent to our group. Please we teach farmers The Multi-plant International Medic- would like to have more copies for I am very glad when writing this let- inal Conservation is a community our group and other groups because ter for the work you are doing for us. project with 30 members. We came when we received them all the 24 I am a volunteer field educator in our across your November 2005 issue and member wanted but only 5 members group but you have made our work the farmers were very much inter- received the copies you sent. easier because we get some of the ested in the information it contained. Presently we are training farmers in details from the organic newspaper We request you for monthly copies of our location. Each of the blocks and our member are happy for that. the newspaper to enable our farmers require copies of the newspaper to Secondly, as you can see in the fig- learn new agricultural methods. P. update their skills. Please send us ures we have given in the question- Your assistance will be so useful to more copies, preferably 200 copies. naire crop yields are not very high this community. Later we will provide you with a list because we are in a semi arid area at of farmers who have received the Joannes Samikwo, P.O Box 50 30201, the border between Nyeri and copies. Endebess Laikipia. So we need additional Evans Konjae, Obwanchani youth Let us work together advice on crop production and live- group, P.O Box 18, Karota. stock keeping. We thank you very much for your The members are grateful for the Black ants ... continued from page 6 wonderful and educative agricultural work you are doing to educate them magazine that we received for the the problem is disastrous, one can first time last month through V.I on new farming methods. spot spray the aphid with a Agro forestry project in Kitale. The Haron Mwangi Gichama, pyrethrum based spray. I like Nabwami Community Based Organi- pyrethrum, as it breaks down within zation (NACOBAO) is a non-profit Nairutia Primary School, hours and does no damage to mam- organization operating in Machewa P.O Box 175, Mugunda Via Nyeri mals. Alternatively, you can sprinkle Location, Saboti Division in Trans- the aphids with diatomite; this will Nzoia District. It is an umbrella of 24 I have received copies not kill them immediately, however self help groups drawn from the and they may still walk off, spread- Division. The organization has 275 Thank you very much for your quick ing viruses until they die. The sharp registered members, A chairman, sec- response in sending me 50 copies of crystals of the diatomite shred the retary and treasurer have been The Organic Farmer. I got them in bodies of the aphids, causing them to appointed from amongst the mem- good time and in good condition. lose their body fluids and leading to bers. These officials run the activities I can assure you that they are being eventual death. If the problem is not of the organization on a day-to-day put to good use and will be read by severe, look around for ladybirds on basis. We therefore request for part- many farmers in the various groups your other crops and transfer them to nership and a monthly supply of The in my location. I hope that we will your plants with aphid problems. Organic Farmer Newspaper for each continue to receive this publication Ladybirds feed on aphids; however it group. Your assistance in this matter and other information that can be of is their larvae that do most damage to will be highly appreciated. assistance to our farmers. aphid. The larvae of the lady bird beetle is small an speckled black and David Were Masibo, Chairman, Chief Joseph K. Mutai, P O Box 69, white. email: firstname.lastname@example.org Kaptagat. 8 The Organic Farmer Nr. 13 May 2006 How to plant fodder trees Market place Fodder trees and fodder hedges Internet-information: Some readers help farmers to optimize have requested us to provide them the use of their available land. with internet sites that give informa- tion on organic farming. There are Eric Lumosi Asiligwa hundreds of websites. Here are We No doubt, trees on a farm have a lot give you some of the most important of advantages, especially fodder trees ones: (see TOF Nr. 12, April 2006). There www.oisat.org are more benefits if the farmer knows www.une.edu.au where und how to plant fodder trees www.new-agri.co.ke and what type would help him most. www.organic consumers.org There is always some space: a www.organic.com shamba of 2.5 acres has over 400 www.planorganic.com meters of external boundary, plus www.ofrf.org/GENERAL additional sites along the internal www.fao.org/ORGANICAG boundaries and around the home- Calliandra: source of protein www.soilassociation.org stead. Several sites are therefore One of the best fodder trees is Cal- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/organic_f available to plant fodder trees. liandra. This shrub grows to 4 to 6 arming meters, requires rainfall that is www. ifoam.com When to plant? If you need more information, you The best time to transfer seedlings to above 1,000 mm per year. It does better in well-drained soils, as it may find it here: Soon, BioVision, the field is at the beginning of the the sponsor of our newspaper, will rain season, when the soil has does not tolerate water logging. Fodder is ready for harvesting in soon open a similar service for farm- enough moisture and continuous ers in East Africa. rainfall is expected for more than two the ninth month after planting, 4 to months. Before removing the ready 6 harvests are possible per year. Cal- liandra is of great value because of Traditional vegetables: The Rural seedlings of around 25 cm height Out reach Programme has seedlings from the nursery to the planting site, his high protein content. It can assist a lot when the livestock are fed only of indigenous plants for sale. Farm- they should be exposed to harsh field ers interested can get in touch with environment: remove the shading on grasses like Napier, which are often low in protein. them through the following address: materials covering the nursery and Thomas Wakala Mutuli, ROP, P.O. reduce watering to only once to every the case, it is important to manage Box 29086,00625 Nairobi 2 to 3 days. This process is called the trees in the correct way. What Tel.0735 568 824; hardening of seedlings. does this mean in terms of fodder e-mail: email@example.com How to plant? trees? Choose a site on which to plant the Fencing: Make a fence around the tree Energy saver: James Olwangu from fodder trees and clear all the weeds to prevent it from being destroyed by Kakamega sent us this photo. He from it. Dig planting holes about 20 livestock and wild animals. wonders why many farmers throw cm wide and 30 cm deep. Apply a 1- Weeding: Seedlings grow slowly and away charcoal dust at a time when kg tin of manure to every hole and can easily be choked to death by energy is becoming a problem to mix well with topsoil of the planting weeds, which compete with them for many rural households. He advises hole. Add a tin full of fresh ash to water and nutrients. They can also farmers to mix the the dust and the every 20 liters of manure. Fresh ash harbour pests. Keep the area around small charcoal particles with wet soil keeps pests like termites away too. the seedlings clear of weeds After planting the seedling in an Thinning: Trees need enough room upright position and mixed soil to grow strong and healthy. If returned to cause a firm grip, water planted for fodder, space the trees them well to enhance their chances of about 50 cm apart. To grow trees and survival. Ensure that the seedlings shrubs for firewood and stakes, space retain some soil attached to their them 1 meter apart, and to control roots, to enhance their survival rates. soil erosion, reduce tree spacing to Overgrown seedlings can be about 30 cm apart. and then mould them into balls. uprooted when the ground is really Mulching: To conserve soil moisture, They should dry in the sun for five wet. Cut the stem to 15 cm above the the area around the trees should be days. If two of the balls are placed ground and then cut the main root to mulched. Take care: Do not place the into a burning jiko, they will burn 20 cm long. Finally cut the lateral mulch in direct contact with the trees, for hours. roots 5 cm from the main root. since the moist and cool environment What next? could encourage pests and diseases. Tissue Bananas: In the last issue of Fodder tress can be grown for fodder Also avoid mulching where there are The Organic Farmer I read the inter- alone or to provide other products termites, as this may increase dam- esting story on Tissue Bananas. Does like firewood, stakes, seeds, or ser- age of the trees by the insects. somebody in the Nakuru-region vices like soil erosion control, shade In the next issue: Protecting the trees have seedlings? If this is so, please or ornamental purposes. Whatever from pests and diseases call Isaac, 0735 442 433. Thanks!
Pages to are hidden for
"The Organic Farmer"Please download to view full document