When I did a series of blogs on setting up model farms using SAWBO animations as a reference, I envisioned small farms and plots within the communities where farmers were practicing mixed farming and using knowledge learned from SAWBO animated videos to increase their yields and profits. I thought of farms where other farmers could visit and learn better farming practices explained in the SAWBO videos which they could implement on their family farms back home.
The Kataru concept of a model farm is built around smallholder farmers who own between half to five acres of land. This is meant to enable peasant farmers to utilize their small farms to the maximum and provide enough food for their families and have excess to sell and generate income. Properly placing structures and facilities to rear a few birds, dairy cow, goat, sheep, a small fish pond, and farmland to plant crops takes planning and organization.
For example, if a family owns an acre of land which they rely on for their livelihoods, it’s important to plan well what portion shall be used for the family homestead, which part shall be used for crop farming, where to place units for one or two dairy cows, a few goats and sheep, and birds like chickens, ducks, geese, and turkey. If properly planned, a family may still afford to add a small fish pond on the farm that will provide protein supplements and water for irrigating kitchen gardens in the dry period.
After floating the idea of the model farms to my networks, several farmers moved to set up mixed farming model farms with several crops, animals, birds, and practices using knowledge learned from watching SAWBO animation videos. On November 27, 2021 I had the opportunity to visit three farms and witnessed the great work accomplished in turning them into model farms using SAWBO animations as a reference. The three farmers (Janet Marende on her Epanja farm in Mumias East, Ramadhan Khatete in Matungu, and Hellen Alukwe from Bulechia village in Mumias East, Kakamega county) receive neighbors who visit their farms to learn what they’ve done to improve their yields making them a hotspot for SAWBO animation video dissemination. This has taken farmer-to-farmer education to another level as captured from the following farmers who were first featured in the blog; Visiting other farms to learn what to grow.
- Ramadhan Khatete
Ramadhan Khatete is our volunteer coordinator of the Kataru Concepts/SAWBO network team, Kakamega county. On his farm, which is our first model farm, Khatete grows bananas, brachiaria grass, arrow roots, strawberry, and a variety of indigenous vegetables using the knowledge he acquires in SAWBO video content. This farm provides food for his family and income from sale of the goods. He has also extended the sharing of this knowledge to friends, family, and our expansive network. He visits farmers in our network and shares advice on best farming practices. Three SAWBO animations that Ramadhan has found very helpful are planting on raised beds, deep tillage and smart manure use, and how to create compost. These animations have taught him techniques he has adopted that have improved his farm.
Just like Ramadhan, Janet Marende was also featured in our previous blog when she was just starting to set up her farm. A visit to Janet’s farm two years later reveals a story of resilience, focus, and love for SAWBO animation video content to improve her farming. It was exciting to see how Janet has improved her farm by increasing the varieties of local vegetables all planted on raised beds using compost she prepared on her farm. Rabbits, goats, and dairy cows are all new additions to her farm.
Alukwe has not been left behind. Her farm which has been beautifully divided into smaller portions with lines of napier grass and brachiaria is worth visiting. After reading the blog on how to plant groundnuts for a higher yield and watching the SAWBO animation video, Groundnut: Good Agricultural Practices for Production, which was funded by the Feed The Future Innovation Lab for Peanut managed by the University of Georgia, Hellen planted her groundnuts and harvested more than she had ever done before on the same portion of land. She has also combined a knowledge acquired in other videos to grow a number of other crops and vegetables.
During the farm visits, I learned from the farmers features that our model farms should include.
- A nice fence: A fence is meant to keep out intruders such as animals that can destroy crops. In this case, a live fence made of lantana camara.
- A homestead: A neatly made compound with houses provides an ambient abode for the family and visitors. The size of the home should depend on the size of the farm and the farmer’s needs.
- Crop fields: This is where a farmer plants maize, beans, potatoes, assorted vegetables, groundnuts, bambara nuts, and other crops for family food, and sale to generate income. These fields can be separated by napier grass and brachiaria which can be harvested and used as animal fodder. These two types of grass are also good in controlling fall armyworms.
- Bird keeping: Every family strives to keep a few birds (less than 20) in their family kitchen, while others build adjacent chicken coops (more than 20 birds) or free-range. Other birds families keep include guinea fowl, geese, duck, turkey, and other birds that provide meat and eggs for family consumption and sale to generate income.
- Livestock rearing: In our community, every family has at least one or two cows, a few goats, sheep, and even pigs. These animals provide meat, manure, milk, and money from their sales.
- Aquaculture: Our model farms should have small fish pond for keeping catfish and tilapia. Fish ponds can also act as water reservoirs that can be used to irrigate farms during the dry season.
- Compost manure preparation site: Every farm has lots of farm residue. It’s important for our model farms to have a place farmers can prepare compost. This will ensure a steady supply of organic fertilizer which is important for plant growth.
- Peer-to-peer training: In our communities, we love to share knowledge and information. Most farmers prefer to visit and learn from fellow farmers whose farms are doing well. School children, farmers’ groups, and government institutions love checking on farmers and recording their progress. Our SAWBO model farms are to be centers of information sharing and exchange.
Briefly, most farmers in the country have watched SAWBO animation videos on KTN Farmers TV, read several blog posts on Kataru Concepts, and accessed videos shared by Kataru Concepts volunteers’ network. Others have accessed SAWBO animation videos through efforts by other collaborators in Kenya such as youth groups, farmers associations, and small local and television stations. Importantly, there are farmers who have accessed SAWBO video animations through YouTube. These farmers are currently implementing the knowledge gained on their farms and sharing with their friends and neighbors thus changing livelihoods.
The model farms described in this blog are not supported or expressly endorsed by SAWBO Animations in any way. They are independent and wholly the responsibility of the landowners/tenants. SAWBO provides scientifically based educational animations on a variety of topics including many agricultural practices. Users and Viewers assume all responsibility and risk for the use of the video and content.