After practicing agriculture for seven years, James Muriuki Kamau’s breakthrough came in 2020. The 31-year-old father of one was among a group of youths selected for training by the Ministry of Agriculture in Embu County as a village-based advisor (VBA).
The youths participated in the AGRA-funded Regenerative Agriculture Project implemented by Farm Africa, receiving capacity building on regenerative technologies and business skills.
Regenerative agriculture involves farming principles that place a premium on soil health, water management, fertilizer use and crop rotation among other beneficial practices.
After setting up three plots measuring 10 meters-by-10 meters intercropped with maize and beans, James was able to demonstrate the use of manure, mulching and biofertilizer respectively. However, the remaining three plots served as the controls, depicting conventional farmer practice where none of the technologies were demonstrated.
“I harvested 60 Kgs, 30Kgs and 25 Kgs of maize respectively from the plots that received applications of manure, mulching and biofertilizer,” explains James, “and 6 Kgs, 4 Kgs and 3 Kgs of beans respectively from the same plots under the same conditions.”
However, in the control plots where there was no application of either manure, mulching or biofertilizer, James harvested 25 Kgs, of maize respectively without manure or mulching treatment and 20 Kgs without biofertilizer. However, for the same treatment, he harvested 2 Kgs of beans without manure and 1 Kg respectively of beans without mulching or biofertilizer treatment.
The demonstration plots not only increased household food production capacity for him but also earned him the attention of his neighbors and the community, effectively making him their local consultant for farm layout, crop management and setting up demonstration plots for them. The revenues earned from these activities sustain his family. He has also monetized crop spraying services for farmers and self-help groups.
The project has enabled him build networks with other VBAs in Embu County as well as input companies like SeedCo, who are keen to support him with the establishment of demonstration plots to promote their brand having confirmed that the Duma 43 maize variety performed exceptionally well with regenerative agriculture technologies.