The effects of climate change have been felt globally and more so in Africa with the often harsh conditions. Though CBM’s partnerships with churches in DR Congo, Kenya and Rwanda, we have seen positive changes within the food security projects. Farmers have gone against all odds to beat the effects of climate change.
Currently, CBM food security is working with 1000 households in Kenya, 570 households in households in South Sudan (food relief) and 1330 households in Eastern Rwanda. In total the project is making an impact to over 9,300 people considering an average family of 7 members. In addition to the above households, spontaneous farmers who are not within the conservation agriculture principles of minimum tillage application and of soil cover and crop rotation/association.
Upscaling of conservation agriculture has been embraced by farmers who have experiences planting of high quality seeds, increased yields, use of less labour and proper storage practices. Through the food security projects, livelihoods have changed for many farmers and more so for women who have been doing most of the farming at household level. the projects will enable women to increase their control of assets, improve productivity, and enhance their status and wellbeing.
Planting of agroforestry trees associated with the crops in the farms has been embraced well especially in the Congo where the land is very steep. Being leguminous in nature, agroforestry trees which are nitrogen fixing plants have been beneficial to the existing crops and soil fertility has increased a as evidenced by the increase in the quality and quantity of crop yields in the Rwanda, Kenya and Congo Projects.
To motivate and encourage farmers to increase their tree planting activities, the project has helped set ups community tree nurseries as well as individual tree nurseries that are within reach to farmers. This has reduced distances an the damage of seedlings when transporting them from the nursery to the farms. Planting trees as hedgerows in the steep areas of Congo has minimized the severe soil erosion that has been happening in previous years.
Farmer’s field trials have been taking place in Bwito (Congo) and Muku (Congo) for the last three years. A trial was done to compare the growing of the Eucalyptus tree against vegetable growing in the Muku area. For many years the Eucalyptus trees have been used in the region for income. They take six to seven years to mature and have adverse effects on the environment like impoverished soil and high consumption of water and the shade they produce which destroys neighbouring crops. Vegetables on the other hand take about two to three months to mature and provide quick access to food and money for households.
Vegetables are not only beneficial but constitutes a strong base for increasing food security and the income of the household. The impact of the trial has a positive impact to women who have struggled to fend for their families on small areas of land.
About Ruth Munyao
Ruth serves with CBM as Senior Food Security Specialist in Africa, with specific reference to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan.