KENYA – A recent study conducted by the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) has shed light on the benefits of agro-ecologically grown vegetables, demonstrating a 22 percent increase in yield compared to conventionally grown counterparts.

The three-year research project, named Greener Greens, involved collaboration with partners such as the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Biovision Foundation, and contributions from the Veggies 4 Planet & People project.

Focused on smallholder farmers, primarily women and youth in traditional settings within Murang’a County, the study evaluated the growth of amaranth, African nightshade (managu), kale, and pumpkin leaves.

Results indicated that amaranth and kale cultivated in agro-ecological plots exhibited positive gross margins, showcasing the financial viability of sustainable farming practices.

Dr. Kiringai Kamau, Murang’a County Executive Member for agriculture, expressed appreciation for the Greener Greens initiative during a two-day workshop, emphasizing the significance of integrating agro-ecology into the county’s agricultural agenda.

He acknowledged the pivotal role played by WorldVeg and SNV in promoting regenerative and agro-ecological practices for vegetable production.

Ralph Roothaert, WorldVeg Kenya Country Director and Principal Investigator for Veggies 4 Planet & People highlighted the groundbreaking nature of the research.

He dispelled the misconception that agroecology is unfeasible and unprofitable, attributing higher profitability to cost savings on inputs.

Roothaert stressed the importance of biopesticides in pest control, with over 90 percent of farmers adopting natural approaches during the trial.

Daniel Gitahi, Murang’a County Director of Agriculture, underlined the positive impact of the Greener Greens research on the adoption of agroecological practices in the county.

He commended the county government for launching the Agro-Ecology Development Act and Agro-Ecology Development Policy 2022-2032, recognizing the benefits of integrating agro-ecology into the agricultural agenda.

Despite challenges such as inconsistent rainfall, the study resonated with local farmers. Peninah Gakanga, chairperson of the Jijenge tuinuke self-help group, noted that agro-ecologically produced vegetables were not only nutritious but also more profitable.

She emphasized the improved taste, leading to increased consumption within producer households.

David Gachoka, a 24-year-old youth from the Jawabu Youth group, witnessed increased yields on his quarter-hectare piece of land through agroecological vegetable farming.

Similarly, Edgar Omondi, another youth from Kangema, identified opportunities in seedling propagation and urged farmers to embrace water harvesting techniques for sustained agriculture during dry seasons.

The success of the Greener Greens initiative underscores the potential for sustainable agricultural practices to enhance both productivity and profitability, providing a roadmap for future agro-ecological integration in Kenyan farming communities.

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