Heifer's Kenya Country Program staff recently held a workshop for staff in the Nyanza and Western regions of Kenya to the Adaptation and Dissemination of Push-Pull Technology (ADOPT) project.
Okay, before you click away, thinking, workshop: boring; Push-Pull: never heard of it... Hear me out.
Push-Pull is super cool. It's a simple agricultural technology developed 10 years ago to control the stemborer insects and striga weeds that destroy crops and cause poor harvests, increasing livelihood vulnerability in affected areas.
Imagine you're a farmer in Sub-Saharan Africa, and you grow maize. Aside from being harmful on many levels, chemical herbicides and pesticides are absolutely out of your budget. To implement Push-Pull, you will plant your maize crop with a repellent intercrop, like desmodium, for your push; you plant an attractive trap plant, like Napier grass as a border crop, for your pull. The push crop repels stemborers, pushing them to the attractive Napier, which traps the and kills stemborers (an added bonus is that the Napier grass doesn't suffer from this, allowing it to be harvested and used or sold for livestock fodder). Maize isn't the only crop farmers can do this with; it's also proven to be useful in protecting sorghum and millet crops.
Watch this video from ICIPE:
So, back to the ADOPT project, which will be implemented by Heifer Kenya, the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. Upon opening the workshop, Heifer's Kenya Country Director Alex Kirui said, "As a development organization, we have the opportunity to disseminate technology from research institutions to farmers." the ADOPT project's overall objective is to enhance food security and increase prosperity for poor smallholder farmers in Africa who are vulnerable to climate change, including less predictable rainfall. The project's activities will include identification, testing and selection of new drought-tolerant trap and intercrop plants that can be incorporated into the Push-Pull system, which will enable expansion into drier areas, develop capacity and promote widespread uptake. Heifer's key role will be to mobilize and train farmers to integrate livestock production into crop farming system. The project aims to impact more than 10,000 farm families in Nyanza and Western Kenya.
With ICIPE and Heifer Kenya's partnership, farm familiesincluding those in non-ADOPT project areaswill enjoy easier access to desmodium fodder plant seeds through a desmodium revolving fund. The project's original farmers will be the first to receive desmodium seeds from ICIPE. After they plant and harvest the seeds, they will pass new seeds on to other farmers through Heifer's Pass on the Gift model.
"We are sure of a win-win partnership with Heifer Kenya. We are aware of Heifer Kenya's systematic and organized entry into communities. The Passing on the Gift principle, too, is an asset that Heifer Kenya needs to be congratulated for, as it promotes sustainability and the spread of gifts in the community. That is why we want to replicate this in the desmodium seeds revolving fund," Jimmy Pittchar of ICIPE said.