Following our first few training sessions with the ‘lead’ farmers I feel now is an appropriate time to give an update on the climate change adaptation training in partnership with the German Development Agency GIZ. My role on the project is to coordinate all the project activities in Kenya, and manage all the various stakeholders including the training team, smallholder farmers and the factory staff that help to facilitate learning.
Being a tea farmer myself and having worked in sustainable development for a number of years I have to say that my job is made an awful lot easier by the team of trainers that the ETP has developed. What’s particularly impressive is their ability to transfer knowledge to the farmers in a way that’s easy to understand.
As well as a great training team, participation from the smallholder farmers has been excellent, and their desire to influence their own livelihoods is clearly evident. What’s great is that they understand that the approaches they take greatly influences how successful they will be in adapting to changes in temperature and rainfall patterns.
Of particular note is an exercise on composting where the farmers each take a turn in making the various layers of a compost heap. By producing good compost they can improve soil fertility at a time when soils are becoming exhausted and the cost of fertilisers continues to rise.
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The installation of a simple drip irrigation system is another exercise that has huge significance for the farmers’ livelihoods as they depend on regular rainfall both for tea production and their own kitchen gardens. The system is low cost, low maintenance and will help them through periods of low rainfall or drought. Their enthusiasm is best expressed by some of the farmers vowing to use it immediately so they can grow their own vegetables rather than travel to the market to buy them.
Throughout the training we’ve been undertaking evaluations to ensure that it’s as effective as possible. Using interviews before and after the training I’m happy to report that the participants knowledge on climate change has greatly improved, and some were clearly impressed with our training partners:
- We whole-heartedly thank the ETP for being the force behind the course and others should emulate them. The course changes people’s attitudes.
- The training was wonderful, trainers fantastic and ready to deliver. Trainers have the best knowledge of what they are saying. I liked the class.
- I enjoyed every moment of the sessions. It enlightened my focus and how I view issues.
The next step is to ensure that these farmers pass on their knowledge to their neighbours and other farmers at their field farmer school meetings. Watch this space!