Lucy and Bernard Gichomo, small – scale farmers from Central Kenya, have benefitted in multiple ways from implementing various agricultural practices that they learned about on Farmer Voice Radio (FVR) programming.
Bernard (a retired chief in the area) and his wife, Lucy, first became interested in FVR programming after Lucy shared what she had heard on Coro FM, about treating and recycling waste water from the kitchen, bathroom, and clothes washing, with her husband. The agricultural tip (AgTip) promoted the use of domestic water, treated with ash from the fireplace, to irrigate crops. The Gichomos implemented this practice and were able to irrigate the sukuma wiki (kale) crop in their kitchen garden throughout the dry season, as a result.
Subsequent AgTips on double digging (a technique whereby soil in a seedbed is loosened into two layers and organic material, such as manure and ashes, is added) prompted the Gichomos to implement this practice. They had not adopted it, even after Mr. Gichomo had received face-to-face training on double digging two years previously. It was after hearing the AgTip on FVR that they applied the technique to their kitchen garden seedbed in which they grow their kale crop, thereby ensuring that the crop received necessary air, water and nutrients. Thanks to the adoption of these two practices, Mr. and Mrs. Gichomo were able to grow their kale crop during the dry season, harvest their crop at a time when this vegetable was not available in the region, and sell their kale at an average profit of Ksh1,000 per week.
The Gichomo’s story drew the attention of FVR radio personnel through reports from the area’s FVR Radio Extension Officer (REO). Journalists from Coro FM interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Gichomo and broadcast their testimonial on FVR. When asked to reveal the magic behind their success, Mr. Gichomo, a member of the gender advisory panel in his community, replied, “We do it together, sharing roles and responsibilities equitably among ourselves”. Mr. and Mrs. Gichomo believe that their relationship has improved since they started appreciating each others’ efforts and sharing the labor more equitably.
“We now save more money from agricultural activities and the family diet has improved. We benefit from the work of our hands,” says Mr. Gichomo. Mrs. Gichomo reports that she has attended seminars on agriculture and women’s issues and her husband has always been supportive. “He never complains [as] I always share what I learn with him. Many husbands would not allow their wives to do that. [However], they end up losing, for lack of information will always hold the family back,” says Mrs. Gichomo.
During the interview with Coro FM, Mr. Gichomo discussed both the management of kale and simple techniques to maintain kitchen gardens. After the program went on air, the Michuki Technical Training Institute contacted Mr. Gichomo and asked him to help them establish a kitchen garden on the college farm grounds. The head of catering, Mrs. Muya, states that the Institute has made a lot of savings since the garden was established. “It is a great lesson to the students to see what a simple method of farming can achieve”, she reports.
Mr. Gichomo advises farmers to adopt kitchen gardens to save them the cost of purchasing vegetables, and to ensure that they have a proper, nutritious diet.
“It is unacceptable that farmers should buy small things like onions, vegetables and carrots for home consumption when they can grow them on a small plot. They should save the money for other necessities”, he states.
Mr. and Mrs. Gichomo have benefitted from FVR programming in other ways. After adopting ractices promulgated by the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project on FVR, the Gichomos have managed to upgrade one of their cows to intermediate level, and have obtained certification for the cow. They also followed EADD advice on providing salt licks to their cattle continuously, and now report a drastic improvement in feed consumption.
The Gichomos have had a positive influence on their community, who have learnt from them and are applying this knowledge to their own farming practices.