Adapting to variable climate in east and Horn of Africa

31 March, 2011, nassej

Launch of ADOPT – a conservation know-how approach for smallholder cereal farmers

The Kenyan-based African Insect Science for Food and Health (ICIPE) on 30 March 2011 launched the ADOPT system, Adaptation and Dissemination of the ‘Push-Pull’ Technology to Climate Change. The system acts to preserve smallholder cereal livestock production in drier areas through agricultural approaches that can withstand climate change.

At the media launch of ADOPT, journalists learned how the Yenga village in the Kisumu community were ‘dealing with’ the push-pull technology and also how ‘vulnerable’ people profited from the push-pull technology. While it was acknowledged that there were forgotten and neglected activities on the ground, Mr. Remjus Bwana, one of the smallholder farmers in the village, said the system made a tremendous impact to village know-how.

Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya and the main city in western Kenya.[frax09alpha]

Image: Daud Abdi Daud The launching Banner of ADOPT at Yenga village in Kisumu

Speaking during the launch, ICIPE Director General Professor Christian Borgemeister said: “In the past 17 years, ‘push-pull’ has been adopted by over 40,000 smallholder farm families in east Africa, resulting in maize yield increases of between one to 3.5 tonnes per hector, with minimal inputs. This action has improved the food security for close to 250,000 people in the region”.

Image: Daud Abdi Daud Journalists are now interviewibg the smallholder farmers to know how the district community dealing with the Push-pull technology and its benefits.

“ICIPE’s target is to extend the benefits of ‘push-pull’ to more than one million people by 2020. Moreover, the rising uncertainties in the region’s rain-fed agriculture, due to the continent’s vulnerability to climate change, has created more demand for ‘push-pull’ and its further adaptation to withstand the increasing adverse and changeable conditions. The funding from the EU will take us closer to achieving these two goals.”
The push-pull system

Image: Daud Abdi Daud ICIPE guests at the centre of Yenga village in Kisumu, Kenya.

Push-pull ( is a novel farming strategy developed by ICIPE, Rothamsted Research (UK) and national partners in East Africa. It simultaneously addresses the major constraints to the cereal-based farming system which include striga weeds, stemborer pests and poor soil fertility.

The strategy involves inter-cropping cereals with a repellent plant such as desmodium and planting an attractive trap plant, such as napier grass, as a border crop around this intercrop.

Stemborers are repelled or deterred away from the target food crop (push) while, at the same time, they are attracted to the trap crop (pull), leaving the food crop protected. In addition, desmodium stimulates the germination of striga seeds and inhibits their growth after it germinates. The process also provides high quality animal fodder. Furthermore, since both companion plant species are perennial, ‘push-pull’ conserves soil moisture and improves soil health and beneficial biodiversity.

Dr. Peter Sturesson, Councilor for rural development at the EU Delegation to Kenya, noted: “ADOPT fully responds to the five result areas of the Commission’s Food Security Thematic Programme research and technology component, which includes: the delivery of pro-poor innovations; development of research programmes responding to beneficiaries’ needs; enhancement of the active role of low-income smallholder farmers; exchange of experience and knowledge through scientific networks; and the generation of synergy and complementarity with other EU research programmes.”

“ADOPT will focus on crops grown in dry areas, for instance, sorghum and millet, including research on trap and intercrops adapted to conditions associated with climate change. This requires working in partnership with regional, national and international organizations, and most importantly with farmers across the region,” added Dr Zeyaur Khan, leader of the ‘push-pull’ programme.

The event was attended by many smallholder farmers and guests from different local and regional networks and organizations as well as delegates from the European Union and many other ICIPE partners.

Launch of ADOPT – a conservation approach for smallholder cereal and livestock production in drier areas to help withstand climate change.

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