Model farms: Visiting other farms to learn what to grow.

by James Kamuye Kataru

In our previous blogs we discussed the upcoming model farms and plots and how farmers can visit and experience animation video content used to improve farming practices. We also discussed how these farms can be used as centers for farmer-to-farmer extension education, which shall encourage them to practice what they learn on their own farms.

In this blog we will look at the importance of visiting farmers who’ve thrived in the crops you may wish to plant and learning what they’ve done to succeed. Visitors will learn how to organize their own farm, manage their crops, source for markets for their produce, and have an opportunity to introduce their peers to SAWBO animation video content.

Since most of our farmers practice rain-fed agriculture, most farms we visited didn’t have seasonal crops such as maize and beans. That notwithstanding, my team visited Ramadhan Khatete, a youthful member of our western Kenya farmers’ network and beneficiary of SAWBO animation videos. On this farm, we saw how the farmer has organized 250 banana crops in neat rows, several thousands of arrow roots, and lines of brachiaria grass. The other part of his farm is well prepared and ready for planting maize, beans and traditional vegetables. See SAWBO’s animation on improved bean production.  Ramadhan’s poultry and dairy units give him enough manure to make compost. 

On Ramadhan’s farm, we learned the right way to plant banana, how and when to apply manure and fertilizers, and harvesting banana leaves to use in preparing compost.  See SAWBO’s animation on preparing compost.

Our second farmer is Sylvia Ndete who has vast knowledge in growing strawberries, tomatoes, bananas, poultry, dairy and bee keeping. Sylvia owns a number of fishponds from which she rears catfish and tilapia which she sells locally and uses the nutrient rich pond water to irrigate her crops.  See SAWBO’ animation on drip irrigation in Swahili.

Sylvia, an NGO worker, has been planting strawberries on raised beds (see SAWBO’s animation raised bed planting) lined with polythene paper to make the beds durable, without weeds to reduce weeding costs.  Other crops of interest were her tomato plot and apiary, where bees help her pollinate crops and produce honey. We advised her to keep using the environmentally friendly pesticide made from the neem tree to avoid killing her bees.

Just like Ramadhan, Sylvia also raises poultry and dairy cows from which she gets her family protein supplements and extra milk and eggs for sale. She also sells fertilized eggs to chick hatchers and collects enough manure to prepare her compost, which she uses on the farm.

The third farmer my team visited was Janet Marende, a mixed farmer who grows simsim/sesam, cassava, arrow roots, cowpeas, nappier grass, sweet potatoes, maize and beans. Janet, who practices agribusiness, is enthusiastic about her over 10,000 crop of arrow roots, ¼ an acre of sesame, and plot of wimbi. She advises farmers to shift to growing traditional crops, which are disease and drought resistant and fetch more on the local market.

We cannot conclude the business of visiting working examples to use on our model farms without searching the internet for images of crop fields that we want our farms to look like. Our social media groups are always filled with chats and admirable images of beautiful farms. On the other hand, Facebook has lots of groups dedicated to farmers and farming activities. It is my recommendation that readers join the following groups and see more appealing images of well-organized farms, stories and experiences worth emulating. The Facebook groups and pages are listed below:

Digital Farmers Kenya:

One Acre Fund:

Farmers Hub:

Farmers Group:

Farmers Marker Kenya:

Farmers Group:

Farmers Lives Matter SA:

SAWBO Facebook Page:

I hope this blog guides you on the steps to follow as we meet on our farms next week to plant, since the much-awaited long rains are here with us.

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