Nairobi News

Must ReadNewsWhat's Hot

EXCLUSIVE: Sowing hope: Women’s role in leading soil restoration

In the heart of Kenya, amidst the golden savannahs and verdant fields, a silent crisis lay beneath the surface—the degradation of the soil.

Bridget Okumu, the Country Director of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), recognizes the urgency of restoring the land to its former fertility.

As Kenya joins the rest of the world in marking International Women’s Day 2024, Bridget believes women can play a significant role in restoring Kenyan soil, which degrades day by day.

This degradation is necessitated by the continuous use of farm inputs with chemicals, such as synthetic fertilisers.

Synthetic, are artificial fertilisers for plant nutrients produced through chemical processes, to nurture soil and foster plant growth.

They mainly consist of macronutrients such as Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorous but lack other essential substances (micronutrients).

As women largely toil day in and day out in farms, Bridget says the campaign on revitalizing soil health can be achieved by this sect.

“We have the power to heal the land,” Bridget said in an exclusive interview with Nairobi News.

In African culture, women are largely engaged in farm activities and understand the productivity of the land.

However, with the continuous use of chemical inputs, largely attributed to the devastating effects of climate change, the level of production has been declining over time.

Bridget insists women can help reverse this trend, as agricultural stakeholders and key partners from both private and public sectors spearhead the campaign on restoring the status of the soils.

“Together, we can restore the soil and secure a better future for generations to come,” she states.

According to soil experts, a significant portion of Kenyan soils is deplorable due to the excess use of farm chemicals.

They are acidic, hence lowering agricultural production.

For instance, a study conducted by Enochem Agrovet in collaboration with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (Kalro) and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector earlier in 2023 in Kisii reveals that most farms in the region are acidic.

Enochem Agrovet, one of the leading farm input suppliers in Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Homa Bay, Kericho, and some parts of Trans Mara, says over 60 per cent of the region’s farms are affected.

“The study found that about 66 per cent of Kisii’s soil has a pH of 5.5, while 36.7 per cent falls between 5.5 – 6.5 pH,” explains Dr Enock Monda, the founder of Enochem.

Dr Monda attributes the blame to poor farming practices, particularly the use of fertilisers with hazardous chemicals.

Kisii’s situation is a replica of other parts in the country.

Soil pH is a measure used to assess the level of acidity or alkalinity in the component for restoration.

Nevertheless, even with the damage on the ecosystem, Bridget Okumu says empowering women would be the catalyst for change.

Women are the backbone of agriculture in Kenya and the African continent, she explains, adding that they are responsible for a significant portion of farming activities.

“Simple yet powerful techniques to rejuvenate the earth, they can re-adopt mulching, letting the land lie fallow, crop rotation, and intercropping—methods as ancient as the land itself in the pursuit of higher yields,” she outlines.

IFDC is an independent non-profit organization that combines innovative research, market systems development, and strategic partnerships to spread sustainable agricultural solutions for improved soil health, food security, and livelihoods around the world.

Also read: 3 arrested, suspected stolen vehicles recovered in Utawala

Rwandan musician Isacco shares appreciation for Kenyan music stars

‘Empty we came…’, Pastor Ng’ang’a reacts to imminent church demolition

Jowie Irungu’s sentencing postponed