Ecofarming made easy
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Muhunyu, Samuel. 2006. Ecofarming made easy. Spore 121. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Samuel Muhunyu, NGO official: Spore is an inspiring publication for me. In many instances it has triggered thought process in a direction I had not considered before,
An agricultural engineer by training, Samuel Muhunyu works as country coordinator for Network for Ecofarming in Africa (NECOFA) in Kenya, an NGO that helps rural community groups towards food and nutrition security and biodiversity conservation. He has a strong practical streak and likes to translate words into deeds for concrete results. So when Mr Muhunyu read an article in Spore about urban agriculture (Urban Agriculture and Food Security, Spore 81), he immediately sprang into action, setting up a project targeting urban households. After receiving training in small livestock rearing, 56 urban farmers in Molo Town, mostly women, have now begun rearing rabbits and chickens. In the following issue of Spore, another article caught his eye, this time on HIV/AIDs (AIDS and Agriculture, Spore 82). Spore is an inspiring publication for me. In many instances it has triggered thought process in a direction I had not considered before, reflected Mr Muhunyu. It had not occurred to me that food. (especially that which is rich nutritionally and in some cases is also therapeutic) is indeed very important to people with HIV/AIDS. After some discussion, the NECOFA team hit on the idea of setting up a Healthy Food for Healthy Living scheme, of which an important component was the domestication and use of the stinging nettle (Urtica masaica), a traditional vegetable also used as a drink that contains iron, calcium and vitamins. This latter product has proved successful as a source of nutrients but also as a cash earner for small-scale producers. But first, Mr Muhunyu and his team faced a problem. Attempts to dry the nettle in open sun failed because the material lost the green colour (and we think nutrients too), he explained. Again, Mr Muhunyu turned to Spore. The article on Renewable Energy in Spore 100 came in handy in identifying a solution, he said. With one community group we have fabricated a simple, cheap and efficient drying system for the nettle, after which it is ground and packed for sale in towns. Our Stinging Nettle project is growing and so is demand for the nettle in urban centres like Nairobi. When Spore comes out, Mr Muhunyu and his colleagues generally digest the information before presenting it to small-scale producers at their regular group meetings. Often, items give rise to fruitful discussions. A case in point was an In Brief article on natural pesticides (Biopesticides: a good recipe from Niger, Spore 81), which prompted a discussion on the use of botanicals in pest management. The Kenya farmers soon saw there were local products that they too could use. Interestingly, they realised that the pyrethrum crop that they have farmed for decades is very effective as a biopesticide, said Mr Muhunyu. They were amazed by the irony of one going to town at cost and taking time to buy expensive and often harmful pesticides and leaving one s own pyrethrum to go to waste. Légende: Samuel Muhunyu (in the white T-shirt) with members of NECOFA
- CTA Spore (English)