Young African Farmers Are Embracing Technology To Combat Toxic Soils

Young African Farmers Are Embracing Technology To Combat Toxic Soils

Tired of looking for elusive white-collar jobs, a group of young farmers decided to think out of the box. The 15-member group named ‘Esteem Eagles Welfare Youth Group’ started farming together. Initially it was a merry-go round, before they decided to pool resources and venture into greenhouse farming. “We started out as a fun group doing picnics together. Since most of us did not have stable jobs, we decided to pool resources and focus on hydroponic farming because the bad soils could not allow us to do conventional farming,” says Stephen Kamau, a member. Hydroponics is a modern system of farming where plants are grown in liquid, sand, gravel with added nutrients but without use of soil. After deliberations the group approached the National Government’s Youth Fund in February 2014 for assistance.

From Standard Media. Story by Phares Mutembei.

“We wrote a proposal and were given Sh358,000 for a greenhouse,” says Kamau. In 2015, the members planted tomatoes and the result were disastrous. “The soils were contaminated. We had to uproot the crop and re-planted in pots. Most of the crops failed because of bacterial wilt,” Dennis Mutwiri, a member recalls. The members resorted to fetching new soils from Kiraro, part of Mount Kenya forest, 20 kilometres away, an energy sapping activity.

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