Area: Mt. Kenya region, Meru Sub-Catchment area (Kenya) ~3000 km2
Participants: Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KARI) PhD students
Products: Tea, Coffee, Banana, Corn, Tobacco
Intensification drivers: Environmental degradation, soil erosion, decrease of fertility, decreasing water retention
Report: Please download the complete Light Case Study report here.
The area surrounding Mt. Kenya is very rich in agricultural production. Despite the high yields of mostly tea, coffee, banana and maze the area faces the problem of decrease of soil organic matter. Soil organic matter plays key role in nutrient and water retention, development of favourable soil structure and soil biology.
Because of the low cation exchange capacity of the mineral part of the soils surrounding Mt. Kenya the only way to retain the macro and micronutrients applied mostly in form of mineral fertilizers is to properly apply manure, compost. Based on field experiences a large percentage of smallholder farms are not aware of such methods thus their land is exposed not only to nutrient loss, but also to the lack of available water and in special cases it can lead to extreme erosion.
The aim of this study is to reveal the farming practices used by local farmers considering the high variability of the landscape, crops and the awareness of farmers to new methods. The result of this study can be useful for the following farm groups: Kiiji Farmers Group, Mariara Water Resource Users Association, Ngakinya/Kinyaritha Water Resource Users Association and Magumangu Irrigation Farmers’ Cooperative. These farmer groups represent the Sub-Catchments of Meru County with membership of over 500 farmers/households in each group (total over 2500 smallholder farmers). Other important organizations that also deal directly with farmers include: Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, African Conservation Tillage Network and Farm Concern International.