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CROP DIVERSIFICATION GIVES A FARMER A SMILE

As the world commemorate International Biological Biodiversity day on 22nd May 2020 to increase understanding and raise awareness of biodiversity issues that is observed annually.Made a deliberate visit to Esther Wangechi  a smallholder farmer who hails from Ngano village in Karunga, Gilgil sub-county, Nakuru County. Her 2 acre farm reflect the days message, having more than 30 diverse food crops and fruit trees.

Agriculture is her main sourc++

e of food where large share of the produce is consumed by her family.She also save her own seed for next planting season making her a self-reliant farmer. Her incomes depend greatly on agricultural activities either on her farm or agricultural wage employment from neighborhood. After a warm welcome and smile,introduced the day’s theme,‘ Our solutions are in nature.” and  intention of the visit  to document her case study for other farmers to learn  as the world continue raising awareness on the importance of the biodiversity conservation.

She started narrating ,“Some years ago I used to plant maize and smaller portions of beans and potatoes, period! Nothing more. The saddest part is that I used to buy seeds very expensively yet it’s always hard for me to get money so I would take a loan from my table banking group where repaying the loan would give me pressure and distress. my story changed after I met Seed savers Network and instilled me and my group members deeper understanding as to why we should have crop diversification on our farms and save our own seed. My life took a U-turn and implemented it on my farm through intention sourcing different plants from friends everywhere I visit.

“We are in times and season where we are facing climatic shocks, its healthy to intercrop different plant varieties since some crops are vulnerable to extreme weather changes and cannot withstands harsh climate. For instance in 2018, I vividly remember my maize field dried up completely due to prolonged dry spell leading us to severe food crises, yet the cassava and yams that I had introduced remained stable.”Esther continued.

Indigenous crops are under threat of extinction so as farmer Esther  felt the need to support and protect them by planting them in my field due to their benefits. She realized they are well adapted to the local climate. Now  she fully understand the relevance of protecting and preserving indigenous seeds for crop diversity. Diversification in  farms is an important strategy to eradicate hunger and more so generate income reducing extreme poverty for farmers   and their households.

“On the issue of nutrition security, I would say my family is now nutrition secure because we have diversity of safe and healthy food crops in my farm.As a woman and a mother, I feel happy and motivated. Women are the key drivers in their kitchen and when they are the ones face and feel constrains in terms of food insecurity. So I would like every farmer to adopt  saving indigenous crops seeds to safeguard them from extinction having in mind they are reliable and affordable giving us as  smallholder farmers power. Now I can proudly admit that sometimes I sell seeds and cuttings. what a good feeling!” she concluded.As I left she gifted me with few climbing beans for multiplication on our demo farm.