Notes to broadcasters
The following script is about a practising organic farmer, Mr. George Opondo from Boro Division, Siaya District, Nyanza Province of Kenya. The script was written by Rachael Awuor Adipo of the Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC) in Kenya. All over the world people are realizing that high-input agriculture is often not sustainable. Although it gives high yields in the beginning, it is difficult for a farmer to maintain these yields year after year. In Kenya, the climate and soils are not suitable for high-input farming. Hybrid and improved seeds usually require good rains and very fertile soils to yield well. If the conditions are not good, hybrid seeds may actually yield less than local seeds. Also, sometimes the rains fail and there is no harvest at all. If a lot of money has been invested in buying inputs then this money may be wasted. The people at UCRC believe that organic farming, which relies on as few inputs as possible from outside the farm, is more appropriate for the needs of many farmers.
In this program you will hear about George Opondo’s experience with using a trench compost bed to improve the soil, and about his use of traditional herbs to treat and prevent animal diseases. George Opondo is also the chairperson of the Organic Farmers Network, an initiative of the UCRC that promotes sustainable farming in Siaya. You can find more information about George Opondo’s farm on the Ugunja Community Resource Centre’s website in an article called Organic farming makes sense (and shillings) in Siaya.
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Welcome listener to our program of today.
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Today we’ll hear from a farmer, George Opondo from Kobare village in Kenya. Mr. Opondo has been practicing new innovations in his environmentally friendly farming system. Stay tuned to hear his experiences next.
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I am 41 years old and I have practiced organic farming for more than ten years. There are many reasons that drove me to organic farming.
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I practise organic farming because it is healthy, it is sustainable, and it is affordable.
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Recalling back in 1995, I was given a dairy cow as a donation from a sector known as Diocese of Maseno West. I was taught how to keep the cow healthy, but by use of chemicals! I was always against it but I did it because that was the agreement. When I had finished paying back by returning calves, I decided to use traditional methods to take care of my cow. I did this because I felt I was becoming an enemy to my environment. From then I stopped using any chemical medication or any feedstuff that was chemically processed. Now I use chickens to control ticks and flies in my cow. My cow drinks herbal water and feeds on fodder that I grow organically like calliandra and nappier grass.
I felt strongly that I learned to understand the secrets of plants, and became a friend of plants. As I speak, I have a garden called “sacred garden”. A foreign friend who came to visit me after having heard about me, suggested this name.
In this small garden I grow most of the important plants or herbs, which I need in my everyday life for curing myself and my animals. Normally at dusk I say thanks to the plants.
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Another method I use on my organic farm is called a trench compost bed. I dig a trench about one foot wide and two feet deep. I pile the topsoil from the trench up on either side of the trench, and remove the subsoil. I then fill the trench with organic materials such as animal manure, grass and leaves.
So my trench is now filled with organic materials. On either side of the trench there is a long mound of topsoil. I plant seeds in this topsoil, and the crops there. The material in the trench decomposes and provides nutrients for the crops that are planted on either side. Because my crops have more nutrients, I have higher crop yields.
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My farm used to be badly eroded, like many other farms, and I used to harvest almost nothing. But now I can harvest a debe of maize from just one trench bed 20 feet long.
I have gained a lot from this simple way of life. I do not know a true path to hospitals or chemical drug houses. For sure I enjoy life because I keep on learning how to prevent a disease rather than curing it.
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Now that I have known that this way of life is healthier and successful. I invite other farmers to join me or I can join them to care for the earth. We should not overload our bodies our environment with toxins. Let us live a true way of life. Let us produce food not money
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- Contributed by Rachel Awuor Adipo of the Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC) in Kenya.
- Reviewed by Anna Brazier, Environmental Consultant in Sustainable Resource Management, Harare, Zimbabwe.