News and knowhow for farmers

NGO helps urban farmers plant vegetables in their balconies and backyards

bag gardenspinach sukumawiki kales

People residing in urban areas can now grow crops using modern techniques such as use of bags that use minimum space for high plant population growth.

Between 1960 and 2014, the share of population living in Kenyan urban areas rose from 7.4 per cent to 25.2 per cent according to Greenwich Political economy Research Centre.

According to a report released by global market research and consulting firm Ipsos Synovate in March 2016, the high cost of living (35 per cent) and hunger (14 per cent) are some of the most critical issues facing Kenyans besides the rate of unemployment (39.1 per cent). Another survey by Nation Newsplex in 2016 revealed that for every Sh100 spent by a Kenyan, Sh45 goes towards purchasing food and drinks.

A majority of Kenyans in urban areas (56 per cent) buy food from supermarkets compared to 35 per cent who but from kiosks and groceries according to a survey releases by mobile phone pollster Geopoll in 2015.

To reduce the cost of buying food, Real impact,  a Thika based non-governmental organization is helping urban farmers adopt modern farming techniques especially now that land is becoming smaller and smaller.

According to the farm manager, Julia Laitore, the technology of using net bags to grow crops can help meet current and future demands of food in Kenya and beyond.

 “We help farmers adopt new farming technologies so as to enable them sustain their production, many people are moving to urban areas to look for jobs and the demand for vegetables is really high,” said Laitore.

The NGO came up with new technologies of growing vegetables and breeding animals in a small scale way whereby big land is not required.

“At our farm here, we plant our vegetables in bag gardening where one bag, 1 meter long is used to plant 100 plants vertically at a go, with only 20 liters of water to being used to irrigate one bag holding the plants per week,” said Julia. The bags are available in large and medium sizes.

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Vegetables grown on sacks

With this technology, farmers are assured of fresh vegetables all year round by planting in sacks/bags. A single person can cater for 100 bags watering them thrice a week. The process needs no weeding. A farmer can also plant different crops in one bag to reduce the chance of pest invasion. This method can be adopted by the elderly as it not labor intensive.

Sack nets last longer than the normal ones that rot easily. One sack for instance has a lifespan of ten years.

Procedure for vertical bag farming using bags

  • Mix the soil and manure
  • Add 3kg of DAP and lime to the mixture
  • Thoroughly mix the bag ingredients
  • Spread the bag to identify the top, bottom and outer sections
  • Turn the bag inside out and gather it in the middle part of the bottom part
  • Place the bag on the ground right side out
  • Start filling the bag with the mixed media
  • Ensure you have a stable base at the bottom and that all holes are visible
  • Continue filling your bag until you have a well filled upright bag
  • Wet the bag with 30 liters of water and start planting on the sides of the bag
  • Place the curled section of the 16mm riser pipe fitted with button drippers on the top of your bag
  • Plant leeks, coriander, lettuce, carrots, kales, tomatoes, on the top section and you have your very own bag garden

All urban dwellers can try this type of farming as it does not only utilizes space but also minimizes malnutrition by ensuring families are on a balanced diet.

Julia advises farmers to plant different types of vegetables in their farms as each specific vegetable has its own nutrition value.

Farmers who would like practice dairy farming in urban areas can also grow hydroponic fodder and use it to feed their animals without any worry of lack of feed. The fodder can also be fed on rabbits and chicken.  

The company can be reached on +254 (0)723 407 058.


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