Kisumu to host regenerative agriculture conference

 regenerative farmer

Emmanuel Ragot, a regenerative farmer in Homa Bay County, breeds Red Italian Worms
as a protein-rich chicken feed to supplement other types of feed. 

Photo credit: Pool

Kisumu City will next week host a three-day conference on regenerative agriculture, a farming approach that aims to boost productivity and incomes while restoring the health of soils and biodiversity.

Convened by Practical Action, a development charity, the event at Ciala Resort on September 11-13, will bring together key stakeholders in regenerative agriculture including county governments, non-profits, donors, researchers, the private sector and young agripreneurs.

“The conference will provide an opportunity to exchange learnings and experiences in implementing regenerative agriculture programmes. Stakeholders will share what is working, what is not and what needs to be done. This will speed up the transition to sustainable and resilient farming,” said Susan Maina, Country Director, Practical Action Kenya.

“There is an opportunity to expand regenerative agriculture amid the negative environmental, economic and social impacts of intensive agriculture and the rising consumer demand for healthy and safe food. Systems change, including markets, policy and research, will make regenerative agriculture viable,” she added.

During the conference, Practical Action will share lessons and achievements from an initiative that has been promoting regenerative agriculture and agribusinesses among 6,000 young people in Kisumu and Homa Bay Counties since 2019. The project has contributed to increased farm productivity, incomes and soil health.

The event will also see the official launch of the Agroecology Toolkit, a knowledge resource providing technical guidance on regenerative agriculture methods to farmers, extension workers and other interested parties. The Agroecology Stakeholders’ Network developed the toolkit with Practical Action’s support.

In addition to plenary and panel discussions, the conference will include field visits to young farmers practising regenerative farming methods in Kisumu and Homa Bay Counties. A Call to Action to enhance the adoption of regenerative agriculture, especially among smallholder farmers and youths, will also be issued at the end of the event.

The regenerative approach is gaining traction as a solution to challenges associated with conventional, resource-intensive agriculture including soil degradation, biodiversity loss, water over-extraction, pollution and climate change.

It includes a range of sustainable farming methods such as cover cropping, minimal or no tillage, use of compost, crop rotation, intercropping, vermiculture, agroforestry, efficient irrigation, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and soil erosion control. These methods are adapted to local contexts. In addition, minimising chemical inputs in farming improves food safety and enables vital biodiversity, such as pollinators and beneficial microbes, to thrive.

While regenerative agriculture is emerging as economically competitive as conventional production systems, it is yet to be widely adopted in Kenya. Traditionally, farmers in Africa have used various regenerative practices to grow food but with the expansion of intensive agriculture, these methods have gradually been abandoned.