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Lifting Poverty in Kenya, Through Regenerative Farming

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Sustainable Village Resources is a non-profit organisation founded by Caleb Odondi Omolo with over 10-years’ experience in agro-ecological regenerative agriculture and permaculture.

Local resources are implemented to restore and conserve indigenous knowledge and agro-ecological systems to enhance food security through the ‘Good-Bye Poverty Project’, of which Caleb is also the founder. We train the marginalised farmers in land restoration and soil building using natural ways. We work with nature by adding value to soil building and planting fruit trees, cash crop trees, and through incorporating rainwater harvesting methods that help nature.

‘We train poor rural communities in East Africa, to improve their land and to grow food’ – Caleb Omolo, Founder of SVR

In their village, most peasant farmers’ livelihood depends on the small plots of land they inherited from their parents. But since the emergence of globalisation villagers have systematically become poorer.

There are several factors contributing to this situation:

  • Globalisation and the emphasis on monoculture cash crops for export and the use of chemicals in food growing which not only robs the soil from nutrients but also pollutes the water.
  • Before globalisation the farmers were growing many indigenous food crops which were drought resistant – now more water is needed to grow these alien monocrops in an already drought-stricken land.
  • Because of monoculture cash crops the villagers are not just losing many indigenous farming practices but also indigenous foods crops.
  • Young people are migrating to the cities and creating urban slums because of the lack of jobs instead of helping on the farms and therefore knowledge is not passed down to future generations.

As a result of this the farms are less productive and the farmers are getting poorer. The biggest challenge is the exploitation of farmers by multi-national corporations who are paying farmers very little money for their cash crops.

The small-scale farmers are only allowed to sell their products to multi-corporations as raw materials and the laws are created in such a way that the farmers can only sell these raw materials at a very low price to the market. The cash crops are grown using a rain-fed system where they ripen during rainy seasons and rot if not sold in time which gives the farmers no choice but to sell them cheaply.

SVR Kenya’s aim is to restore lost livelihoods by creating a natural agro-ecological ecosystem and empowering communities in the following ways:

  • conduct on-site training for indigenous agro-ecological ecosystem restoration
  • mentor and monitor our trainees’ progress towards achieving results
  • demonstrate impact within 30 days on the abundance of diversified indigenous food and a visible resilient ecosystem
  • holistic ecosystem assessment, agro-ecological systems design, and natural resources mapping to restore or upgrade farms to self-sustaining agro-ecological systems
  • target, reach and involve the whole community

Caleb founded Rongo Shade Grown Food Forest in 2013 where they also grow their own coffee. ‘We began by training 35 farmers in regenerative agriculture using permaculture principles’, Caleb said. Currently, they are very busy with coffee cherry-picking as coffee is their biggest cash crop and their permaculture coffee is selling very well in the Nairobi coffee exchange.

The Food Forest was created on a one-acre plot of land using a multi-cropping technique. This design consists of planting an overstory of trees with a distance wide enough to let sufficient light through to understory crops. ‘In our case, we created seven layers of elements including overstory trees, cash crops, food crops, canopy ground cover crops, tuber crops such as potatoes and runner crops as well as planting annuals and perennials’, Caleb explained.

Read more about the benefits of regenerative farming.

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