While traveling to Marmanet, I remind myself that an early arrival at Kwanjiku village will enable me to make arrangements for our Kijani* capacity-building training on conservation agriculture. Reaching Kwanjiku around mid-morning, I start the preparations. As a norm of community change agents, I go straight to the Assistant Chief’s office to report the purpose of my visit. Madam Chief Naomi accepts the idea and directs me to several other assistant chiefs in the location to assist me. Now the real work begins.
By evening, I am overwhelmed with phone calls from all corners of Kwanjiku. Community members are highly interested — to the point that I start to get worried. The number could be well above the thirty we had planned for!
The following day, not only do our trainers arrive, but community members start coming from all corners. With the number surpassing the target, we get started as 65 community members are ready to listen, learn, transfer knowledge, and apply the skills.
Francis Ogembo, one of the Trainers, demonstrating how to plant seeds.
Day one starts by taking community members through the concepts of conservation agriculture such as mulching, crop rotation, manure composting, and field preparation. Our two trainers find it hard to respond to the many questions. In the middle of the training one community member shouts “kwekwe kwekwe kwekwe” meaning “weed weed weed”. People burst out in laughter. Shocked, we are worried that we had committed a heinous crime in the training floor, later to realize that he wanted to share his nasty experience of weeds in his farm and he needed much help. Day one ends with a powerful thanksgiving prayer.
The second day is dedicated to practical work. We assemble at Mr. Haman’s plot, one of the trainees who dedicated his land for demonstration. Everyone is involved in learning how to prepare land, minimize soil disturbance, make holes for crops and vegetables, prepare top dressing with animal manure, and make compost manure. Farmers begin to realize that low yields are a result of inadequate techniques.
We later climb the hills of Marmanet to reach our second demonstration plot where Mama Wambui offers her portion of land as a demo plot. I keep busy supplying our trainers with mulch from fallen tree leaves and other agricultural wastes (see the photo).
Kijani being a youthful organization, we are impressed by the turnout of young people who committed their time to attend our training and implement the model.
Before leaving, we distribute the training manuals. The vibrant smiles assure us that all has been well received. It was a happy ending.
A great African leader once said, “Communities cannot be developed; they can only develop themselves by participating in development activities.” This is exactly what we witnessed.
* Kijani is a Springs of Africa project that promotes tree-planting, conservation agriculture and youth empowerment. To learn more about Kijani, visit http://blog.kijani.co/
By David Oyaga