When it comes to ending hunger, partnership is important.
That was the message delivered by Albert Mwaniki Ndung’u, the Agriculture Executive for Murang’a County in Kenya during his June 23 visit to a conservation agriculture project sponsored by Canadian Foodgrains Bank in that county.
“Any initiative, however small it may appear, that can help improve our food is always welcome,” added Ndung’u, who is also responsible for livestock, irrigation and the environment in the county.
The project, which is part of the Scaling Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa program of the Foodgrains Bank, is managed by Foodgrains Bank member World Renew and its local partner, Anglican Development Services—Mount Kenya. It is made possible by a five-year grant from Global Affairs Canada.
Through the project, 3,000 small-scale farming households are being supported in adopting conservation agriculture techniques in their farming.
“If we work together, if we take care of each other, if we share knowledge with one another, we know there is enough for everyone to eat,” said Foodgrains Bank Executive Director Jim Cornelius, who was also at the event. “What I like about this project is that there are many partners working together.”
In addition to the Foodgrains Bank and its members, “women’s groups, farmers, the church, community members, and government officials are all working together with the resources they have in the county.
“We are privileged to come alongside them from the outside,” he added.
About 70% of households in Murang’a County rely on farming for their livelihoods, yet due to erratic rainfall and poor soil conditions, many families struggle to grow enough food to support their families and regularly experience hunger.
Through the project, households are improving their soil quality and yields. During a recent drought, the households practicing conservation agriculture managed to harvest a crop, while most crops in the community failed.
“The difference when a conservation approach to agriculture is used is incredible,” said Luke Myers, Counsellor (Development) and Head of Cooperation, High Commission of Canada.
For Assistant County Commissioner Stella Ndiema, it’s encouraging to see members of her community working toward a strong agricultural future.
“This area has received relief assistance for many years. It is an improvement to have such practices passed on to these farmers, to work toward food security,” she said.
Conservation agriculture practice is helping farmers mitigate the effects of changing weather patterns and fostering efforts to provide for food and nutrition security as well as opening new economic opportunities for women and men smallholder farmers in rural communities.
Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa is a five-year, $18-million program (2015-2020) of Canadian Foodgrains Bank being delivered through its members Mennonite Central Committee Canada, World Relief Canada, World Renew and their partners. The program, which receives funding from Global Affairs Canada, is training 50,000 farmers in conservation agriculture and strengthening civil society and policy support for conservation agriculture in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.
–Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Coordinator