By Dr.PAUL KINOTI
Kenya is a country where food security is a major concern with a considerable population of under nourished, under weight, and stunted growth especially among children below the age of five. Though agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy with about 80% of the population involved in the business, productivity of the traditional farming is poor at farmers’ level leading to food self-insufficiency. Productivity and sustainability of traditional rain fed agriculture at small scale farmers level has been challenged by the recurrent drought in some parts of Kenya affecting the food and nutritional security goal of the country. In spite of the situation, increasing productivity of the farms and diversifying their products are smart approaches to alleviate the nutritional insecurity problems.
Integrated Snail- Poultry-Fish -Vegetable Farming System is one of the potential techniques to achieve the nutritional security at household level in potential areas of the country. In the system, waste and by products from one component is used as input for the next component. In this case, the shells from mature snails are used to fortify poultry feed due to the high calcium level required in egg production and to fortify the organic fertilizer for use in vegetable production, the waste from the poultry is used to fertilize fish pond substituting feed supplement for the fish as well as well providing calcium to feed snails on egg shells which are rich in calcium (snails requires high calcium level to make shells), and the nutrient rich water from fish pond is used to irrigate the vegetable/horticulture crop during the water exchange for fish, substituting fertilizer use in crops. The vegetable crops are used to feed the snails and poultry. The end products from mature snails, poultry, fish and vegetables are also sold to generate income to the farmer. This technique recycles waste and utilizes the by products for food production and saves the environment from pollution. Moreover, the technique saves production cost and is easy to manage at small scale farmer’s level.
This system of farming plays an important role in diversifying the farmers’ products so as to improve on the diet of the people in developing nations like Kenya. The integrated production system diversifies income of farmers, create job opportunity for local people and contribute for household food security. The system maximizes productivity and economic efficiency of smallholder snail as well as fish, poultry and vegetable farmers through enhancing the productivity per unit area of land. This system has been experimented and found to be effective approach for sustainable production, income generation and employment opportunity for the resource poor rural households.
The basic research work on the system under local conditions was done at Ngong Farmers Training Centre through research fund provided by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). Following the information generated by the basic research, the technology is currently being demonstrated to small scale farmers in other parts of the country. The aim of this study was therefore, to test and demonstrate the Integrated Snail- Poultry-Fish-Vegetable Farming System as a means of sustainable production system at small scale farmers level by diversifying their products, minimizing their input cost and increasing production per unit area.
Author: Dr. Paul Kinoti is a Lecturer and Coordinator of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Bio-snail Project in the Department of Horticulture and Food Security