Pilot in Kisa West Almost Complete…
Meanwhile, we are happy to share with you the latest updates from the farmers in Kisa West as they go through the final Consolidation stage of their permEzone project, putting into practice what they’ve learned during their permaculture training with C-MRA, and ensuring that they have the community-wide structures in place to continue working together for the long term.
MEL - Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
We finally got the external MEL back on track at the end of May. Sheena Shah, who is a member of the pEz Project Board, and leads the MEL team’s work to document the impact of the program, and build the project knowledge base, as well as leading on curriculum development, undertook a comprehensive on-site review of the 18-month Implementation Stage of the project in Kisa West.
Sheena’s comprehensive report brought us some wonderful stories of the good change being experienced by the lead farmers participating in the project, while highlighting some of the important lessons learnt for the programme’s commitment to continuing improvement. There’s a summary of her report at the end of this newsletter - you can download the full report here (pdf).
The C-MRA team followed up on this recommendation by conducting a two-day refresher training workshop on permaculture practices with the 30 lead farmers. They split into two groups of 15 farmers each, and the main topics were farm layout (with the emphasis on soil and water management), and gardening techniques.
On the basis of this experience, future projects will include a final refresher course.
Some of the steps being taken in the community include:-
- The 30 lead farmers have registered a Self Help Group which will enable them to continue with the activities initiated with C-MRA during the pilot phase
- Through this Self Help Group, they’ll create a nursery for raising vegetable seedlings and establish a model garden with different techniques to act as a field school to the members and surrounding communities.
- Three major enterprises have been identified to generate income to the community and their households, including: growing vegetables to sell as food to the community, vegetable nurseries to raise seedlings for sale to the community, and local poultry rearing for eggs, meat and manure.
Modelling Citizen Science
Sheena's Report from Kisa West
- Lessons learned.
- Lead farmer activities, including how their farm designs are working in practice.
- Extent to which each lead farmer has grown their community of practice and examples of their farmer-to-farmer extension activities
The farmers we visited all live within close proximity within one another and were also within walking distance when conducting these visits. The farmers are much younger compared to the past phases, making this context unique because they are also closer to the main city centre of Kisumu.
The farmers are open to learning new strategies and a few of the individuals were also new to farming when they first started the workshops. Permaculture is/was a completely new topic for a lot of them to dive into, but they dove into this with open eyes and hearts to ensure that they could transform their land and build livelihoods from this venture. Some of the farmers had already been practicing farming, but used all conventional practices like monoculture and growing maize mostly as their main crop, relying on markets to earn a livelihood. With markets being so competitive and volatile in the region, farmers are not able to retain any significant profit and succumb to crop loss. Now, having gone through 4 months of permaculture training, the farmers have completely changed their monocrop farms to polyculture farms that boast a variety of different crops and it is completely evident as you walk through their farms and listen to their stories pre-project. The farmers are proud to walk through their farms and show us around and the diversity.
DAY 2 Conclusions
It has been exciting to see this phase in action and to see how far the farmers have come and of course, how each farm varies from one another. This group is the most unique as they are young, vibrant and are closest to the city. Their youthful energy is what shapes the project and we can see this becoming a very successful phase. The farmers meet every Sunday and continue to share the latest with one another. Paul, Isack and Caroline (the C-MRA team) have a great rapport with the group and with Carol and Isack residing so close to the farmers and being part of the community, they’re able to check in on the farmers and encourage them. The farmers have a very positive outlook and have been very enthusiastic about the process so far. Each site varies, providing the opportunity for more learning and seeing what each farmer is applying to his/her farm. There is no sense of competition but cohesion amongst all farmers. With one final training/ refresher on proper garden bed design, going through basic fundamentals of using their land to the maximum and composting/waste management, we feel that they will keep improving their existing farms and gain more productivity on their land. They’re moving away from conventional farming techniques and are seeing the benefits of permaculture and mixed crop systems. They feel the wider community is seeing this already and are also coming to the group to learn about what they’re doing to improve their lots. Given the long dry periods that shook communities around the Country as a whole, the farmers here learned that they could continue growing drought resistant crops and still obtain a yield. Some farmers still need to be encouraged but a majority of them were still able to grow some food. Some farmers have seen how mini earthworks such as swales and pathways are slowing down water run off with the onset of rainy periods and are able to harness this. Access to water for some continues to be a big challenge, but they’re thinking of ways to continue to tap into water harvesting techniques that they can implement. There is no doubt that this collective will be actively changing their communities.
Their new and vibrant energy is changing the game of farming here in Kisa West, by applying vertical gardening techniques that could be encouraged, especially during dry periods. Some farmers are already actively leading the way and are spreading the knowledge, whilst learning from other groups outside of theirs.
The field extension team are very encouraging and are eager to engage with other farmers and stir the changes.