Dissemination of Integrated Soil Fertility Management Practices using Participatory Approaches in the Central Highlands of Kenya
Mugwe, J. N.
MetadataShow full item record
Declining soil fertility is a critical agricultural challenge facing smallholders in central Kenya. A study to improve soil fertility and farm productivity in the area was carried out during the period 2003 to 2007. Problem- solving tools were used to build the broad conceptual and methodological approaches needed to address farming constraints. The study identified farming systems constraints and disseminated “best-bet” integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) interventions using participatory methods and mutual collaborative action. This paper describes processes in the participatory approaches, project milestones and joint experiences that were gained. The participatory approaches included Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Mother-baby approach (M-B approach), Farmer training groups (FTGs), Annual stakeholder planning meetings, Village training workshops, Cross-site visits and Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM & E). Food shortage was the main problem identified by farmers resulting from low crop yields. The causes of poor yields were biophysical factors, but several socio-economic factors influenced farmer ability to manipulate farm productivity. Village training workshops attracted a 20% higher farmer turnout than mother trial field days. Farmer and experimental evaluations showed that the most favoured technologies were tithonia, manure, manure-fertilizer combinations, and tree legumes while the most effective dissemination pathways included demonstrations, farmer training grounds, field days and farmers’ groups. Using PM& E procedures, farmers developed indicators that they used to monitor progress, and annual ISFM milestones were achieved, leading to the achievement of overall project objectives. Innovative adjustments to ISFM technology dissemination were proposed by both farmers and scientists.