The Organic Farmer by dffhrtcv3


									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-                       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:                                                          farmers are maize and beans, half of
                                            farmers together, and dividing it by
     homepage:                                                   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 :
                                            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
                                               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
    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
    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?"
                                              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:             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

   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

   through a neighbour, after reading a           issue. Thanks a lot and there materi-      organic farmers in the country.
                                                                                             We are interested in:

   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
   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:                  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                                           
    are more benefits if the farmer knows                                         
    where und how to plant fodder trees                                           
    and what type would help him most.                                            
    There is always some space: a                                                 
    shamba of 2.5 acres has over 400                                              
    meters of external boundary, plus                                             
    additional sites along the internal                                           
    boundaries and around the home-            Calliandra: source of protein      
    stead. Several sites are therefore        One of the best fodder trees is Cal-
    available to plant fodder trees.          liandra. This shrub grows to 4 to 6           arming
                                              meters, requires rainfall that is             www.
    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:
    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!

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