Green Farming Introduce Sustainable Water Management in Kenya

Green Farming chairman Harm Maters, (r) Agricultural Counsellor at the Dutch Embassy in Nairobi Hans Wolff, (c) and Van den Berg Roses director Arie van den Berg (l) cut a ribbon to officially open the Green Farming Water Management Demo Project atVan den Berg Roses in Naivasha.

As the Naivasha Horticultural Fair came to the end of its 10th edition, Green Farming launched Water Management Demo Project. The project, which is critical in the area of water management, was initiated at the site of the Van den Berg Roses in Naivasha.

A consortium of Dutch suppliers to the horticultural industry has combined forces to develop this project. C & J Bosman BV, experts in irrigation technologies, ventilation systems and screen systems, is in charge of project implementation, Hoogendoorn supplied the automation, Hatenboer-Water provided the water disinfection system, Van der Knaap is the coco substrate supplier, Genap the water tanks, and DLV Plant is responsible for project administration and the final financial reports.

The technology implemented offers potential for gradually achieving water savings and has been adapted to local Kenyan circumstances and needs. “The end result is a higher and better quality, and an efficient and sustainable use of the available resources,” says Harm Maters, chairman Green Farming. The project will be replicated in other farms in Kenya and Ethiopia where Green Farming is working on similar projects.

At Van den Berg Roses where demonstration project is set up, in the existing greenhouses 3ha of roses are planted on a cultivation system with coco-peat substrate. The demo project involves a closed production system where all inputs to the crop can be controlled and irrigation water and fertilizer that is not used is recycled.

The project includes water storage, treatment with reversed osmosis, recycling, optimisation of fertigation and optimisation of crop cultivation techniques. The project’s main objective is saving 40-60% of irrigation water while achieving a 10% increase in yields. In co-operation with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Wageningen University & Research centre, based in the Netherlands,   will be monitoring the project and present the results.

Other benefits expected are reduction in the amount of fertilizer used by more than 30 per cent hence reduction in running costs. It will also play a major role in improvement of product quality and quantity and increase in level of production system sustainability.

“This new project allows us to save 40-60% of irrigation water, and thus fertilizers with it. We expect this to achieve a 10% increase in yields, too – and who wouldn’t like that! said Arie van den Berg, Van den Berg Roses manager.

“The costs of investing in Dutch technologies are relatively high. However in the long- term you have the advantage of savings in water and fertilizer and gain more production. That’s what we would like to demonstrate,” emphasizes Arie van den Berg.

Green Farming is a Dutch programme uniting horticultural networks in the Netherlands, Kenya and Ethiopia through joint activities, projects and co-operations in the areas of research, development and production. It encompasses five themes: water management; crop management; climate

and energy; post harvest and logistics; and research and knowledge exchange. In the course of this project, set to run over 2 years, Green Farming will keep Kenyan companies and officials informed about all results achieved.