ifoam96.gif (1141 bytes)
Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract front page
Subject index
Athor index


Meeting food needs for highland communities in Kenya S30

Waikwa Stephen Wachira

Iteme-Ini Organic Farming Self Help Group P.P. Box 543 Othaya, Kenya

See also:
News from:


Rural communities in the Kenya Highlands used to live harmoniously with nature. They had developed useful empirical knowledge of their eco-systems and had devised ways of overcoming their problems using local resources and skills.

With the advent of the green revolution, their knowledge base and associated practices gave in to modernized farming practices that require considerable amount of external energy inputs.

However, communities are now realizing that the present modes of agricultural production are not only unsustainable but their negative effects on the environment are innumerable. In this regard, farmers are looking for alternative methods of food production and organic farming is proving to be a very positive diversion.

The above realization not withstanding, other socio-environmental problems abound that curtail the desire to meet food needs.
As in most Third World Countries dependent on agriculture as its economic mainstay, this is a moment of enormous social pressure on the Kenya Highland communities. There is an urgent need to address the food situation, education training and extension, primary health care, encroashment of settlements, forlone infrastructure and accessibility to basic human needs.

The above are some of the factors that combine to create enormous obstacles to achieving food self sufficiency and other viable development projects. It is in this light that the Kenya Highland farmer finds himself caught up in a vicious circle of poverty. It is imperative that the majority of these people, the predominantly poor, find or are assisted to find a sustainable agricultural alternative as a first step in breaking this vicious circle.

Four years after the introduction of organic farming, farmer groups are beginning to take stock of their situation. Organic food production, natural pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, resource recycling and better live-stock management are among some of the hot topics among farmers. Experiments carried out so far indicate that not only does organics free the farmers from the yoke of agro-industrial companies but the benefits in nutritional intake and the environment are innumerable.

Unfortunately, these discussions and experiments are being done in a near vacuum of information, an absence of experience expertice and extension.

This paper will examine the socio-environmental problems in relation to information, training, extension, other farmer factors that hinder production. It will also look into the possible solutions of making organics an integral part of agriculture to meed food needs for the above communities.