AgriTour Kenya – Agriculture on the Equator
There’s nothing better than an interest in agriculture to help you make sense of a place. For the nine UK farmers on the Green Shoots AgriTour to central Kenya they were fascinated by farming on the equator in Africa.
Compared with the climate at home they find the day length is about 12 hours and stays the same all year round. The temperature is warm and stays like that all year too. In central Kenya there is usually ample rainfall but it sometimes falls for longer and heavier than it does in England.
Seeking sustainability in agriculture
Careful use of precious resources is essential. So what would the Tour think of Kenya’s export horticulture and floriculture and the production systems used? Is the use of land, manpower and water wise or wasteful? Is the farming in step with the best of UK farming practice, behind or ahead?
Ahead of UK
Early on the farmers discover that in some ways Kenyan agriculture on the equator is ahead of the UK – and not just by the few hours time difference. Visiting Real IPM it’s soon evident that their innovative approach to pest control using pest predators has worked wonders. Conventional insecticide use and associated costs have fallen dramatically in both protected structures and on a field scale. They have many other useful technologies in the pipeline as well. We learn that in Europe only Denmark is opening up to applying the same innovation. Others, including the UK, are lagging frustratingly far, far behind.
AgriTour Kenya vital statistics
In six days on the move we clock up some impressive vital statisitics: 9 farmers, 1 Susie Emmett, two buses, two drivers, 1400 km, 8 crossings of the equator, 41 crops, and 7 very different farming businesses. From just after dawn to way after dusk we diligently cross examine our hosts and discuss the issues that arise.
The impact of what was being seen and learned for farmers back in the UK was never far from the Tour farmers’ thoughts. The urge for a quick pose with their favourite UK farming publication on one of the AgriTour’s equator crossings was irresistible.
Green Shoots organised the AgriTour of Kenya for Smiths Gore as one of the Centre for Contemporary Agricuture (CCA) training opportunities for UK farmers supported by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.