One incredibly important element in this design process is WATER - how to manage water on the farm on the full spectrum from too little to too much.
Last time we talked about how, despite the erratic rainfall, the farmers are making good use of the little rainfall they receive by implementing their new farm designs: putting what they’ve learned into practice, and starting to build practical experience of what works in their local environment.
Now we have some more stories for you, from farmers putting into practice what they learned during their permaculture training with C-MRA, illustrating different approaches to making the most of the water they have available to them, and how that is helping them to manage drought conditions on their farms.
In his farm and food forest, you will find a variety of crops and he attributes this to soil water conservation because of swales. He even grows crops that require high water content such as arrow roots. He applies the principle of 3-S’s to Slow, Spread and Sink the water using earthworks. These are enhanced by growing napier grass along the contours on his sloping farm which slows down any floods caused by heavy rain, helping to prevent soil erosion
Drought tolerant crops
Sweet potato is one of the staples grown in Western Kenya. This is ideal because it withstands drought and usually has high production compared to maize which is the main staple. It is an important crop since it can be eaten at all times. Can be taken with tea for breakfast, can be taken with beans for lunch or dinner. “I feed my family with sweet potatoes. This crop is always available even during drought, I always harvest it in a piecemeal when need arises. Even neighbors come to purchase for their families which earns me income”, says Esher.
Cow pea, which is used as a vegetable, is always available during drought periods during which you will hardly find other exotic vegetables such as kales, cabbages, and spinach. The cassava crop is also hardy and highly tolerant to drought. It is a very important staple food to the community.
Mr. Oketch has a variety of crops in his little kitchen garden including arrow roots.