News and knowhow for farmers

Zai pits raise semi-arid farmer yields 300%

 Semi-arid farmers using Zai pits– small manure and mulch filled basins– have been shown to increase crop yields by 310 per cent. 

This is achieved by improving the soil’s ability to hold and provide water and nutrients to plants 

Having suffered complete maize crop failure after a poor 2019 long rain season that also left him unable to feed his family from their kitchen garden. John Mweu– a farmer in Makueni County— had to take drastic measures.

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“I learnt of Zai Pits from an I Cow Boda Soil program. Today, I have 1000 pits growing vegetables and cereals for my family’s consumption,” he said.

In 2021, while most of his neighbors’ farms were a barren wasteland after another scanty long rain season, his farm was resplendent green.

“Zai Pits hold the little rain water that would have been lost to evaporation thanks to mulch placed at the bottom of the pit,” explained Sammy Mutuku, an I Cow Boda Soil Advocate.

A 60 square centimeter Zai pit holds five maize seeds, while a 90-sq-cm one holds nine seeds. Crops such as beans, peas and pumpkins can be intercropped into the pit.

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For John, the biggest benefit of zai pit technology has been enabling him to keep his family fed with a consistent supply of fresh vegetables. 

“I have everything growing here; indigenous vegetables, kales, cabbages, spring onions, tomatoes. The idea of not having adequate vegetable supply is an anathema for my family,” he informed.

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