The Farmers Alliance for Restoration, East Africa
- our first post-pilot project in Western Kenya, under the oversight of Paul Omollo; Paul took the lead in delivering the first and third permEzone pilots, and is now heading up the new nonprofit Farmers Alliance for Restoration, East Africa (FAR-EA).
- the outcomes of the seven-year pilot programme, in terms of the model we’ve developed for working with farming communities, and the top-level data of what we achieved with each of the three phases of the pilot and how that is transforming people’s lives in those communities.
You can make a donation to help fund future projects in East Africa with FAR-EA HERE.
Our First Post-Pilot Project
Meet Paul Omolo, the Director of Farmers Alliance for Restoration - East Africa [FAR-EA]. Paul is an agronomist who has worked within permaculture development since 2014. Previously Founder of Community Mobilization For Regenerative Agriculture (C-MRA), he was their representative for the permEzone pilot program, and working with farmer groups in Migori County, Asumbi and Kisa West, leading to the groups successfully implementing permaculture and becoming pioneers in the region.
The Model we developed during the Pilot
- Work with the existing network of regional permaculture training centers to help rural communities build their own efficient, sustainable food systems, and
- Find effective ways to share knowledge and information in isolated and resource-poor communities.
- The coordinating organization - e.g. FAR-EA - identifies a permaculture training centre to be a delivery partner, and enters into an agreement with them to deliver a new project.
- The delivery partner connects with a new farming community, informs them about the programme, and if the interest and commitment is there they recruit a network of 100 farmers.
- Out of this network, 30 lead farmers are selected to participate fully in the project.
- A 2-month preparation stage - the lead farmers participate in a process to identify their project’s indicators of success, and to co-design the curriculum for the training. A baseline survey provides the basis for gauging the impact of the programme across the community.
- A 3-month training - provides the lead farmers with a complete Permaculture Design Course (PDC), along with additional information about nutrition and community building, along with other topics highlighted during the preparation stage.
- An 18-month implementation stage - the lead farmers use their new farm designs from the PDC to create model farms, with the continuing support of the delivery team. During this period, each lead farmer is tasked with recruiting 20 more farmers into a community of practice to share what they’ve learned and to engage in citizen science to continue learning together as a community about the best options for their situation.
- A final 3-month consolidation stage - when the delivery team takes the farmers through a review of their training, and helps ensure that community-wide structures are in place to support them as they continue to work and learn together to build eco-social resilience - normalizing regenerative farming practices, meeting their community’s nutritional needs, and growing their local economy. The end-point survey documents the changes brought about by the farmers’ involvement in the project.
The Outcomes achieved through the Pilot
By the end of their two-year permEzone project, the lead farmers were putting into practice what they’d learned during their permaculture training, and ensuring that they have the community-wide structures in place to continue working together for the long term.
Here is a summary of key outcomes for each of the three pilot projects…
In Asumbi, Kenya, C-MRA collaborated with 10 lead farmers on a two-year permaculture project, which included the development of project indicators and a revised curriculum. Following a three-month training period, the lead farmers established model farms and, through 18 months of extension work, acquired additional skills and recruited many more farmers into communities of practice to share and develop their understanding.
A Self Help Group formed by the lead farmers engaged in activities like table banking and sustainable crop production. Initially, only 10% of farmers shared seeds, but by the project's end, all 10 lead farmers practiced seed sharing, achieving 100% adoption. Additionally, the project witnessed a notable shift, with 80% of lead farmers abandoning synthetic fertilizers in favor of organic inputs.
Phelister Aludo Ochieng’ was one of the lead farmers in Asumbi. She told us about using Di-Ammoniaum Phosphate (DAP) on her farm every season and, despite annual costs in the region of Ksh. 8,000, “It reached a point that even if I applied the DAP there was no significant improvement in my harvest, then I thought I needed to increase the quantity of application which I did but then the harvest even reduced further … but since I was trained by C-MRA on compost making which was one of the sessions I enjoyed the most, I resorted into it. It really doesn’t cost me a cent as I use locally available material and wastes from my farm. My soil has since improved a great deal and I can see a big change”.
Farmer Clement Opata was not one of the direct beneficiaries of the project - but he told us that mulching was a technique that he had never practiced before he learnt about it from Ms. Phelister Aludo.
The project directly benefited 250 farmers, with an average household size of five, resulting in 1,250 indirect beneficiaries. An additional 200 farmers were recruited through peer-to-peer extension work, bringing the total impact to 2,450 members of the community.
Self-Help Group and Diversified Activities:
A Self Help Group was formed by the lead farmers, engaging in activities such as table banking, poultry keeping, and sustainable crop production, providing ongoing benefits to its members.
Seed Sharing Adoption:
Initially, only 10% of farmers shared seeds, but by the project's end, all ten lead farmers embraced seed-sharing practices, achieving 100% adoption among the group.
Transition to Organic Practices:
While all ten lead farmers initially used synthetic fertilizers, by the program's conclusion, 80% had completely abandoned synthetic fertilizers, indicating a substantial shift towards organic inputs.
An important lesson learned from this project was that, while the adoption of new farming practices was high, the quality left more scope for improvement. This told us that we needed to introduce one or two techniques and allow enough time for all the lead farmers to adopt them, before slowly introducing more. This could work better than bombarding the beneficiaries with all the techniques in the practical curriculum at once.
We worked with Broadfield Enterprises Uganda (BEU) to deliver the second project, this time in Sanje, Uganda. BEU initially recruited 80 participants with 20 selected as lead farmers. The project’s impact showcases significant achievements over the two years, and directly benefited 400 farmers and a total of 1,600 beneficiaries by the end of that period. One notable outcome was that rainwater harvesting adoption reached 100% among the lead farmers, who, initially reliant on rain-fed farming, now utilize harvested rainwater stored in tanks. This transformative project not only enhanced agricultural practices but also fostered collaboration within the community; from the baseline where farmers did not work together, to the establishment of a cooperative society, purchasing and selling farm produce for mutual benefit and bringing improved community cohesion.
On the last day of their permaculture training, Farmer Ssenyondo Wilson stated: “I cannot believe that I have been lost for so long and so many of our fellow farmers are still lost far from the reality of being creative”. At the end of the two-year project, he went on to say: “The scope of my knowledge has been widened; I came to know about permaculture for the first time. I am now very knowledgeable about situation analysis and design and I have been able to incorporate all the course content.”
Farmer Nantumbwe Betty told us: “I have learnt a lot that I did not know, such as using waste for compost. I did not know how to farm in a small space but now, on top of knowing how to grow crops in a small space, I can even grow crops during a dry season.”
o Initially recruited 80 farmers, with 20 selected as lead farmers.
o 400 farmers became direct beneficiaries of the project.
o Each of the 400 direct beneficiaries impacted an additional 4 farmers through a trickle-down effect.
o Total beneficiaries reached 1,600.
o Developed project indicators and revised PDC curriculum.
o Provided three-month permaculture design course for 20 lead farmers.
o Assisted 20 lead farmers in establishing and developing model farms over a two-year period.
Rainwater Harvesting Adoption:
o 100% adoption rate of rainwater harvesting among the 20 lead farmers.
o Gutters installed as roof catchments, rainwater stored in tanks for irrigation.
Extension Work Impact:
o 18 months of extension work enhanced knowledge and skills for the lead farmers through BEU's extension workers.
Cooperative Society & Community Cohesion:
o Lead farmers registered a cooperative society.
o The cooperative purchased farm produce from members, sold to retailers, and shared profits among members.
o Bulk purchase of organic farm inputs at lower prices for cooperative members.
o Establishment of the cooperative society enhanced community cohesion.
o Improved collaboration among farmers compared to baseline where they did not work together.
C-MRA's project in Kisa West, Kenya, engaged 30 lead farmers in another two-year project. With the additional farmers recruited into their communities of practice, thanks to their peer-to-peer extension work, and considering an average household size of 5, the total beneficiaries amounted to approximately 3,000.
Notably, the lead farmers established a Self Help Group, facilitating economic activities such as table banking and bulk purchase of organic farm inputs.
The initiative achieved a remarkable 100% adoption rate for polyculture among the lead farmers, who transitioned from mono cropping, and a commendable 77% adoption rate for soil and water conservation practices, demonstrating significant positive shifts in agricultural practices and community impact.
During a field visit conducted in Kisa West in May 2023, farmer Caleb Inaga said: “Before this training, I had no idea how to farm successfully. Now with this type of small-scale, yet productive way of farming using the techniques learned from the course, I am able to organically grow food for our home, feed my family and sell the excess to the market. I am also able to send my children to school and ensure that small bills are paid. I am grateful to the trainers and training received.”
- Developed project indicators and revised the PDC curriculum.
- Conducted a three-month permaculture design course for 30 lead farmers.
- Initially recruited 100 farmers, with 30 selected as lead farmers.
- An additional 500 farmers were recruited during the project, totaling 600 direct beneficiaries.
- Considering an average household size of 5 members, there were 3,000 indirect beneficiaries.
- Assisted 30 lead farmers in establishing and developing their model farms over a two-year period.
- 18 months of extension work significantly enhanced knowledge and skills for lead farmers through C-MRA's extension workers.
- Nearly 3,000 individuals benefited from peer-to-peer extension work.
- Lead farmers registered a Self Help Group engaging in activities such as table banking.
- Bulk purchase of organic farm inputs at lower prices for group members.
- All 30 lead farmers transitioned from mono cropping to polyculture.
- Intercropping main crops with onions, coriander, and rosemary for pest control.
- Intercropping with nitrogen-fixing crops like beans for soil enrichment, achieving a 100% adoption rate to polyculture.
- At baseline, none of the lead farmers practiced soil and water conservation.
- By the program's end, 23 lead farmers adopted measures such as terraces, swales, mulching, cover cropping, and agroforestry, resulting in a 77% adoption rate.
Please consider a donation to help fund future projects in East Africa HERE.