Farmers eye eco-friendly, organic farm inputs

By Wanja Mungai

Kenyan farmers are opting for organic farm inputs to improve the quality and safety of their products while also taking care of the environment. Many are now beginning to use biofertilizer, which is made from organic waste.

CGTN met Steven Kariuki Muthui who uses biofertilizer to boost his crop yields instead of conventional chemical fertilizer. The 33 year-old from Nakuru, in Kenya’s Rift Valley, prides himself as a certified organic farmer.

“It means cultivating organic food without external inputs which are harmful to the soil to the environment to animals and plants,” Steven Kariuki, Organic Farmer.

Kariuki adds that biofertilizers help in ensuring food safety as well as mitigating against climate change. While chemical fertilizer releases greenhouse gases into the air, bio fertilizer does the opposite. It traps gases like carbon dioxide in the soil.

“Carbon is meant to be retained in the soil as opposed to being released in the air, which is what causes the issues of climate change. So, the essence is to retain as much as possible the carbon in the soil,” says Kariuki.

This organic farmer discovered bio fertilizers after he met Mildred Day, a manufacturer of the eco-friendly input. Day works with a group of women in making the best out of Nakuru county’s waste organic matter.

At her compost sites, the organic matter takes months to fully process. The process entails layering of different types of waste, from animal, farm and residential organic waste.
It is also fortified with nutrients to help make a rich mix.

“At the county market we have 2000 Traders and by collecting that waste we are able to create clean environment for them to trade and also intercepting that waste from being taken to the landfill we prevent methane emissions,” submits Mildred Day, Founder, Griincom.

Day says her fertilizers are climate smart.

She says that most of the Farmers use rain fed agriculture and because of climate change effects there is less rainfall than normal. This means there is declining productivity in the farms, but when organic fertilizers are used, it has high water retention. This helps in crop cultivation, climate change notwithstanding.

More farmers are adopting climate smart agriculture to cushion against droughts, floods and rising temperatures.

While not many farmers understand the contribution of their practice to climate change experts believe there is a need to get them enlightened so they may adopt climate smart methods.

“Agricultural sector in Africa is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It is also a sector that provides income for about 60 percent of the population so it’s not something that you can just ban. So it is very important that we find methods that will not deteriorate the environment further but provide enough food for everyone,” says Anja Berretta, Head of Programme, Energy Security & Climate Change Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.