NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 11 – Smallholder farmers have said conventional agriculture has failed the country and will continue to do so as climate change worsens.
They have faulted the government in what they call ‘skewed’ support that it has accorded industrial agriculture which they describe as a fatally flawed agricultural model that places farmers in a cycle of debt as well as reliance on harmful and expensive chemicals and seeds.
A group of 30 farmers set off Tuesday, from Thika on a 4-day resilience journey that will see them engage county leaders and Kenyans on the ideal agricultural system that they envision for Kenya and the continent.
They will make stops in Machakos, Makueni and Nairobi counties to exhibit produce, share knowledge and seeds with their counterparts with a clear message in support of ecological farming ahead of World Food Day to be observed on Sunday, October 16, 2016.
“We, as farmers and consumers from around Kenya, call upon the Government of Kenya and International aid donors to listen to our demands, to move away from conventional agriculture and support ecological farming;” reads in part a demand letter written by Kenyan smallholder farmers to the local governments of Kenya and International Aid Donors in Kenya.
The farmers say they have decided to support each other because they have not received sufficient support from authorities and donors.
With support from The Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC), Greenpeace Africa, The Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), the Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE) and The Kenya Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (KSSF), the farmers will use this resilience journey to showcase and prove the benefits of ecological farming.
Ecological farming not only supports local farmer’s livelihoods, it also, “enhances their economic empowerment and is conscious of environmental stability and builds community resilience to adverse effects of climate change,” says Martin Muriuki, Executive Director, Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE).
The farmers says they are sure that the solution to address hunger in Kenya lies within the country’s borders and with the right support, they can feed Kenyans with healthy, nutritious food that is grown ecologically.
Greenpeace Africa says ecological farming combines local farmers’ knowledge with scientific findings to create technologies and practices that increase yields without negatively impacting the environment and some of our smallholder farmers are already practicing it by building on the traditional agriculture methods based on local landraces and knowledge.
“The farmers’ appeal comes at a very critical time, the current food system is broken, the environment is damaged and the current industrial agricultural model has left thousands hungry and dependent on technologies that are unable to withstand weather shocks and lined the pockets of a few corporates,” states Greenpeace Africa’s senior Food for Life campaign manager, Nokutula Mhene.
“There is an urgent need to support smallholder family farmers to practice ecological farming through access to irrigation and access to affordable organic inputs and protection of local farmers against middlemen exploitation.” The future, states Anne Maina from KBioC, “is in practicing agro-ecology and not synthetic chemical driven farming.”
“Ecological farming has at its core resilience, equability, food sovereignty, and environmental sustainability. We call upon Governments and Donors to put in place mechanisms that allow for a paradigm shift towards ecological farming,” says Greenpeace Africa’s Executive Director, Njeri Kabeberi.
At the end of the journey, the farmers plan to hand over a letter to International aid agencies in Nairobi, outlining priority areas in the agricultural sector that agencies should invest in.
The United Nations message for World Food Day 2016 is ‘Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.’