In western Kenya, as in much of sub-Saharan Africa, the production of staple cereals by poor smallholder farmers is constrained by the parasitic weed Striga, stemborers, low soil fertility, water stress and degraded soils. Significant yield losses and increasingly frequent crop failures lead to high levels of food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty.
Scientists at ICIPE, KARI and Rothamsted Research in the United Kingdom have developed the “push-pull technology” (PPT), a technology that effectively controls cereal stemborers and Striga, while improving soil health (and cereal yields), incorporating the production of high quality year-round fodder, and enhancing income streams. The technology has been primarily studied with maize, for which 50,000 farmers in western Kenya have adopted the system. PPT has potential for further implementation in maize and adaptation to finger millet and sorghum.
However, weaknesses in national extension systems, and farmer knowledge and capacity have slowed down technology adoption rates in the region. This is partly due to flaws in the technology dissemination process, low capacity of national extension systems, and poor incentive structures for adoption such as shortage of inputs, lack of credit, poor marketing incentives, poor flow of information from research to farmers, and infrastructural limitations.
The project focuses on improving smallholder farmers’ ability to learn and adopt PPT, and to communicate ideas on its adaptation in sorghum and millet farming systems in western Kenya. A participatory video and technology toolkit will be used and integrated by smallholders’ to document their experiences in learning, adopting, and communicating the results of PPT.