African agronomists to share experience in soil health at Ag In Motion

Thursday, July 4, 2019

“I’m hoping to learn about the farming technologies practiced and adopted by farmers in Canada,” says Kenyan conservation agricultural technical specialist John Kirima, noting he also wants to share about the impact conservation agriculture technology is having on the lives of small-scale farmers in his home country.

Demonstration plot of typical conservation farming methods used in East Africa to be staffed by African agronomists

An exciting exchange of learning.

That’s what Rick Block, Canadian Foodgrains Bank representative for Saskatchewan, hopes will happen when African agronomists from Foodgrains Bank overseas development projects connect with Canadian farmers at the upcoming Ag in Motion farm show.

The agronomists, from Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania, have backgrounds in conservation agriculture and soil health, with extensive experience working alongside small-scale farmers to improve soil health and crop production in their home countries.

“Canadian farmers have a deep understanding of the importance of sound soil management for a healthy and sustainable crop. While their context is a world away from that of our African guests, we think there is a lot of room for rich learning and conversation on both sides,” says Block.

The Foodgrains Bank booth at the show features a conservation agriculture demonstration plot planted with traditional flour corn and bean varieties, using the same techniques that the African agronomists use when training small-scale farmers in their respective countries.

Show attendees are invited to visit the plot, and interact and ask questions of the agronomists.

John Kirima is a Kenyan conservation agriculture technical specialist with 15 years experience in economic and agricultural research and project management. He is one of the agronomists who will be at the booth.

For him, the opportunity to be present at Ag in Motion represents both a chance to learn about how things like care for the land and soil are approached in Canadian agriculture and share his own experiences, as well as connect individually with Canadian farmers.

“I’m hoping to learn about the farming technologies practiced and adopted by farmers in Canada,” he says, noting he also wants to share about the impact conservation agriculture technology is having on the lives of small-scale farmers in his home country.

Wangui Gitau, a conservation agriculture project coordinator for Foodgrains Bank-supported projects in Kenya, will join Kirima at the demonstration plot.

“I’m excited to meet the farmers who have committed their resources, energy and time to support smallholder farmers and communities in Kenya,” she says.

Around the world, many of the people who regularly experience hunger farm on small plots of land. Despite their hard work, they may go hungry as their farms may be too small to easily meet their need for food; they often work with degraded soil in harsh and unpredictable weather conditions; they struggle with government instability and getting their crops to market; and they may lack income and training to improve their farms.

Conservation agriculture is an approach to farming that uses minimal soil disturbance, crop rotations, mulching and cover crops to improve soil health and help small-scale farmers increase their production.

To learn more, visit the Foodgrains Bank booth at Ag In Motion, located at site 379, near the corner of 3rd Street and BC Drive. Tours of the demonstration plots will take place at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.