[Anglican Communion News Service] An agriculturalist in the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) has encouraged farmers in Africa to adopt a biblically-based version of conservation agriculture known as “Farming God’s Way,” to curb food insecurity on the continent.
Stephen Gaturu, a project officer in charge of food security in one of the Regional Development Services in ACK, praised the technique. “It has helped farmers in Kenya because it involves farming using resources like compost and mulch which are cheap to get and improve their farms,” he said.
The system that uses scientifically sound, no-till agricultural techniques combined with strong biblical teachings to “radically transform farming practices and bring hope to farmers” was originally developed in Zimbabwe.
“The Anglican Church (in Kenya) decided to use this technology because land has been plowed for many centuries which has proven to be destructive, uneconomical and environmentally degrading,” he explained. “Plowing also causes soil erosion with our soils ending in rivers, catchments and oceans hence the need to apply mulching which is God’s blanket.”
Gaturu revealed that the government of Kenya has also been promoting this kind of farming under the name Conservation Agriculture. “It is similar to the method adopted by the church except that the government’s method involves the use of chemicals to control weeds which can be expensive for many farmers,” he said.
“One very big farm in the Kenyan semi-arid region of Laikipia has adopted this method and has been planting wheat in thousands of acres and the yields are very good,” said the agriculturalist. “This is in contrast to their neighbors who are harvesting nothing and are always relying on relief food.”
Gaturu said that he developed an interest in the technique after attended a training two years ago.
“I introduced it to the community and fellow Christians but it was not easy to convince my community to discard the farming techniques that they have been using for a long time,” he said. “However, I encouraged them to start very small gardens using this technology. The results were tremendous and they can now comfortably plant using this technology.”
Although only a small percentage of Kenya’s total land area has sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed, agriculture continues to dominate Kenya’s economy. Agriculture is also the largest contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP).