Unlocking the potential of vulnerable communities for sustainable development through conservation agriculture practices in homa bay county, in kenya

Pamella J. A. Were-Kogogo

Sustainable development especially in rural areas is affected largely by unsustainable agriculture characterizing most areas of Kenya. Homa Bay County is generally characterized by rapid population growth, high poverty levels, impacts of climate change and variability, environmental degradation and food insecurity as key challenges to sustainable development and secure livelihoods. Majority of people in the region depend on agriculture, yet the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation has meant unreliable crop yields. Improving smallholder agricultural systems of vulnerable communities is a key response to these challenges as a means of enhancing sustainable development through increased resilience to climate change. Strengthening agricultural production systems is a fundamental means of improving incomes and food security for the food insecure communities in the county and in Kenya. This project was collaboratively conducted in Homa Bay County of Kenya between different institutions such as Ministry of Agriculture, Research team and communities. The goal of this project was to contribute to sustainable development and improving livelihoods of vulnerable communities through enhanced capacities in innovative Conservation Agricultural (CA) practices. Specific objectives included assessing socio-economic status and capacity of rural communities on CA practices; to train vulnerable communities on maintaining sustainable agricultural systems through innovative but economically viable agricultural practices; and to promote agroforestry and Conservation Agriculture practices. Surveys were done to establish the socio-economic status of communities, level of awareness and practice of CA and to determine crop yields. Capacity building was done through trainings, workshops, Farmer Field Schools and Farmer to Farmer exchange visits. Field trials in experimental plots to compare yields when Conservation Agricultural practices were employed and when farmers used conventional agricultural practices compared with untreated farms. This project has resulted in an increase in farmers’ yields after using Conservation Agriculture (CA) practices, improved food security, economic incomes and poverty alleviation, improved soil conditions and enhanced knowledge networks for exchanging experiences established at local level. Community participation has been enhanced in maintaining ecological integrity and resilience of agricultural ecosystems. The project has thus contributed to sustainable management of agricultural ecosystems for improved livelihoods through economically and environmentally viable adaptive approaches to climate change by rural communities in Homa Bay County, Kenya.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24327/ijcar.2017.3341.0266