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Ambassador report

[Ambassador report] How farmers are banefiting from sustainable banana plantation

by Okoth Okoth | 12-08-2020 16:36 Comments 8 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations



Agriculture is what 75% of Kenyans depend on. Despite the fact that only 20% of Kenyan land is suitable for agriculture, 33% of the nation’s gross domestic product is accounted for by the agriculture sector. More than 80% of the rural population derive their livelihood from agricultural related activities. Study estimates show that over 10 million people, in the country having 48 million people, according to the 2019 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics are food insecure with majority relying on food relief.

With the disruption in food supply chains and severe food insecurity problems persisting since 2008, farmers from Sunga village, Kisumu County, Kenya, have shown that sustainable food production can be achieved through smart farming including, the use of organic manure and organic mulch without negatively impacting the environment. 

When Evans Otieno started his humble banana plantation with only one banana tree plant, most of his friends doubted whether anything good could come out of it. Four years down the line, the banana plantation has grown into a food production enterprise creating both indirect and direct employment to his friends. He has also built a store to sell banana products. The farm holds 800 banana plants with a capacity to produce approximately 24000 kilos of bananas monthly. A bunch of banana goes at USD7 while a kilo at USD 0.20. 

Standing on a raised platform overlooking Otieno’s banana farm in Sunga Village, rural area in Kenya, all you see is green leaves and purple banana flowers overstretched miles into the distance. The farm, named ‘Karabolo,’ almost 10 acres in size and nicely carpeted with undercover of dry grass and banana leaves in between the plantation rows is a gem to Evans and his community.
To grow bananas, we dig three feet holes and add a wheelbarrow of organic manure uniformly mixed with top soil before planting the suckers and maintaining a distance of 10 feet from one plant to another. We mostly make manure from cow dung and chicken excreta which is very rich in nutrients. Our farmers encourage usage of organic mulching to conserve moisture because of uncertainty of rain patterns. We are proud producers of healthy and chemical free bananas.” Narrates Evans.

Mulching promotes moisture retention and is a sustainable way of growing crops in areas experiencing less rains. It is a proven climate-smart method to prevent soil erosion during heavy rains and loss of soil moisture content during dry seasons. Although they encourage weed growth, it has a long term benefit by decreasing herbicides use. Reduced herbicide use is a great way of managing water bodies from agrochemicals pollution. 

Farmyard manure supply nutrients to plants including micronutrients and improves the structure and water holding capacity of soil. Sunga village has a characteristic lose loam soil which doesn’t hold water for long thus use of organic manure is a sustainable method of encouraging food production. In addition, organic manure increases the availability of nutrients, releases carbon dioxide during decomposition acting as a carbonate fertilizer and alters the balance of microorganisms in the soil thereby controlling fungi and parasitic nematodes in the soil.

Neighboring the farm lies Achieng’s home. Achieng is a single parent with seven children to raise. She now works at the farm and is in charge of sales store. Seven years down the line Achieng had no stable source of income and would do odd jobs like felling down trees to make firewood for sale. Thanks to Evan’s farming project, deforestation has now been minimized. Moreover, 20 farmers have directly benefitted from the farm as workers.

“I can now work full time in the farm and earn a noble livelihood from it. My family never lacks food and is happy. I have also learnt the benefits of bananas including, helping in digestion, good source of manganese and vitamin C and free from cholesterol thus I would like my children to grow healthy and happy.” Says Achieng.
During harvest the banana stems are sliced into pieces and packed into sacks ready for transportation and distribution to the area livestock farmers. Banana stem makes good food for livestock in Sunga area with over 500 households majorly practicing mixed farming. As an act of compassion, Evans distributes the sliced banana stems to livestock farmers in the area. This helps conserve forests from encroachment and degradation of grasslands by continued pastoralism thereby controlling erosion. Moreover, it is an animal feed thereby promoting sustainable milk production in the area. 

During dry seasons, there is decreased milk production from my cows. The grass cover and the tethering places become bare and my livestock suffer. With banana stems, I can zero graze my cows and allow the grasslands adequate time to replenish. The milk production has been on the rise since my cows started feeding on banana stems.” Explains Jacob, Sunga, Kenya.

8 Comments

Asmita Gaire

  • Asmita Gaire says :
    Greetings okoth
    I hope you are doing well
    Thank you for your report
    Keep writing
    Green cheers
    Regards
    Asmita Gaire
    Posted 19-09-2020 11:16

Sang Su Mentor

  • Sang Su Mentor says :
    Hi Okoth Okoth, this is a mentor, Sang Su Lee.

    Agriculture is essential to everybody's survival. However, massive agriculture can exert negative impacts on the land. It is good to hear that there is eco-friendly way to control such impacts so that sustainable agriculture would be possible. Agricultural innovation will be imperative to take responsible for growing number of world population.

    Green cheers~!
    Posted 26-08-2020 00:51

Kushal Naharki

  • Kushal Naharki says :
    Hello Okoth

    Greetings and Namaste from Nepal
    Wishing you a safe stay
    Thank you for your report on farmers being benefiting from sustainable banana plantation

    Keep writing great reports.
    We are eager to read more reports from you.
    Green Cheers :)

    Best wishes,
    Kushal Naharki

    Posted 13-08-2020 21:53

ALOK DHAKAL

  • ALOK DHAKAL says :
    Thank you for the report!

    Green cheers!
    Posted 13-08-2020 15:04

Taehyun Mentor

  • Taehyun Mentor says :
    Hello Okoth, this is mentor Taehyun!

    In general, large-scale farms are known to have a lot of bad effects on the soil in the area, and it's amazing how environmentally friendly they can operate large-scale farms. Especially, it is creative to use organic manure to operate a farm and to control harmful insects in an environmentally friendly way. I hope there will be many innovations like this in the agricultural sector in the future!

    Thank you for the report!

    Green cheers!
    Posted 13-08-2020 12:33

Aarati Khatri

  • Aarati Khatri says :
    Greetings Okoth,
    I hope you are doing fine and is safe wherever you are,
    Nepal is also an agriculturally dependant country.
    Inorder to prevent from any types of food insecurity, sustainable agriculture is very much necessary.
    Thank you for sharing detail report about how farmers are banefiting from sustainable banana plantation in Kenya
    Warm Regards.
    Posted 13-08-2020 00:48

Shobita Neupane

  • Shobita Neupane says :
    Hello Okoth
    This was a informative piece of article about sustainable banana plantation. Thank you for the writing.
    Regards,
    Shobita
    Posted 12-08-2020 17:26

Sonika Pariyar

  • Sonika Pariyar says :
    Hello Okoth,

    I hope you are fine and doing great!

    Its great to know about sustainable banana farming in kenya.In Nepal, Banana is grown commericially in different parts of country mainly in Chitwan district.

    Thanks for sharing!

    GREEN CHEERS FROM NEPAL!

    Regards,
    Sonika
    Posted 12-08-2020 17:05

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