Sokopepe, a social enterprise supporting the agricultural sector in Kenya by offering market information through SOKO+ and farm records management service through Farm Record Management Information System (FARMIS) held a two-day training on conservation agriculture on August 9-10, 2016 for Production Information Agents (PIA) at Methodist Bio-Intensive Agricultural Training Centre in Meru County.
The training sought to enhance the skills of the PIAs in ensuring small-scale farmers adopt conservation agriculture as a way of combining profitable agricultural production with environmental concerns and sustainability.
In addition, it enabled the PIAs learn how they would incorporate the climate smart agriculture technology with FARMIS. This would ensure that farmers keep accurate primary data on conservation agriculture.
Speaking during the training, Mr. Josphat Musenze, Sokopepe Sales and Marketing Officer, said that they are keen to unlock the potential of small-scale farmers in Meru County by moving from conventional to conservation agriculture.
He said that Sokopepe would be offering record keeping services alongside extension services on conservation agriculture. This would enable farmers to generate on-demand customized reports on the status of their enterprises, project the income potential of their farming enterprises, and access real-time market information.
He urged farmers to adopt conservation agriculture, as they would be able to realize higher yields and also reverse the effects of soil degradation caused by mechanical tillage. He noted that minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, and crop rotation is important in ensuring that farmers increase profit and protect the environment.
“Soil under conservation agriculture has very high water infiltration capacities thus reducing surface runoff and soil erosion,” said Mr. Musenze.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, conservation agriculture is a concept of “resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits together with high and sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment.”
Sokopepe is cognizant of the fact that the pace and severity of climate change risks overwhelming smallholder farmers in Meru County due to the decline in land productivity caused by declining soil fertility. Sokopepe believes that conservation agriculture would help mitigate against the adverse effects of climate change.