In Africa, farming is a way of life, a lifelong commitment where agricultural activities form a significant role in poverty reduction with a focus on small scale farming. Small-scale sector who contributes 75 per cent of total agricultural production is faced with a challenge of lacking sufficient information on the know how to improve crop production and how to adapt to impacts of climate change such as droughts, high temperatures and food insecurity. This calls for smallholder farmers to be equipped with new practical knowledge especially on the technologies adapted within the agriculture sector. One of the ways to achieve this is to introduce the farmer-to-farmer interactive learning method

Farmers learn best from one another. The farmer-to-farmer technique helps farmers learn from each other through sharing experiences whilst providing an excellent opportunity for farmers to access available markets, technologies, information and services while achieving the sustainable management of natural resources. OAIC supports farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange by establishing interactive model farms through the Livelihoods programme, an initiative aimed at placing innovative climate-smart technologies in the hands of rural farmers so that they are better protected from the impacts of climate change. 

Our work with rural smallholder farmers is founded on the belief that change is the best achieved and sustained through collective action at community level. Since early 1990’s, the OAIC has been engaged in efforts to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers through training of Farmer Resource Person (FRPs). Today, we largely engage with FRPs in establishing model farms.

Some of the established model farms include National Independent Church of Africa (NICA) in Tharaka Niithi, Africa Divine Church in Vihiga, Mafuta Pole in West Pokot, Pentecostal Christian Church of Tanzania and Christ Disciples in Uganda. The numbers have increased tremendously as more lead farmers set them up impacting the communities positively. The sites also help to diffuse new technologies learnt from research institutions. Churches also continue to donate pieces of land and creating seed banks for communities.

The establishment of model farms in Tharaka Niithi enabled farmers to trained on water harvesting techniques to enable them preserve rain water useful for home use and effective for their kitchen gardens. A farmer by the name Ven Kimbo led his community to form a group called Jipange conservation group. This is composed of Lead farmers and other community members that seeks to enhance agro-forestry in the community. This is to ensure that the arid area had a lot of trees. He began by distributing 20 trees to each farmer and the trees are progressing well. They have agreed that each farmer will plant at least 80 trees by the end of 2018. Ven. Kimbo has planted over 200 trees in his several farms. So far over 1000 trees have been planted.

In Uganda, committees have been formed comprising of church members and farmer group members. Women constitute 80-90% on leadership structures in the committees formed. These committees use participatory approaches by visiting several households at a given day and carry out activities in the selected household. Women who planted African eggplants have benefited a lot both for home consumption and selling enabling many to buy stationery for their children. One lady called Naigaga Florence from Lwerera church is earning Ugshs 60,000 averagely per week and this has enabled her to set aside money towards the construction of her house. This strategy has led to the improvement in food production as more farmers are moving towards planting non-seasonal crops which ensures they have a source of income throughout the year. Fruit trees and vegetable gardens are increasingly becoming popular in the various homesteads. One of the main benefits of this type of farming is that these crops more drought resistant than the seasonal crops.

In Vihiga, the Africa Divine Church donated pieces of land for the establishment of model farms. The farmer-to-farmer technique within this region has helped to diffuse new technologies learnt from research institutions and other sources. This has been necessary as they also act as points for creating seed banks for communities. The sites continue to be practical sites where learning takes place and have also proven to be popular with the younger generation which prefers to practically see the changes and promise that farming has. The voice of young people in agriculture continues to gain prominence with more primary schools actively engaging in the 4k clubs in Vihiga County.

OAIC has also established stakeholder engagement platforms in West Pokot. This has resulted in the FRPs to have conversations with County governments to help farmers construct seed banks as well as ensuring they get cheap loans to enable them to access farm inputs easily. Many continue to organise seed and farm produce fairs as platforms for learning and bringing together members of the county assembly, governors to showcase their produce as well as look for markets. 

The future of agriculture should focus on the key benefits of Farmers-to-farmer technique. This engaging technique provides rural farmers with an opportunity to physically demonstrate and teach each other appropriate technologies, as well as venues to test new methods side by side with traditional methods. Interactive model farms have a long tradition and have proved to be an effective means of supporting farmers in problem -solving at the farm level. Their sizes can vary widely, ranging from small to big farms. Depending on what’s being tested or showcased, the demonstration farm could have different types of crops and crop varieties, livestock or poultry breeds, fertiliser treatments or technology, such as drip irrigation. It is key to note that well- presented demos enable farmers to see for themselves that technology works, therefore, encouraging them to try the new methods while farming. has equipped small scale-farmers with the practical advice of how to handle the ongoing agricultural challenges, climate change and food insecurity.

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