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From the field: how on-farm biodiversity is transforming community livelihoods in Kenya

Joseck displays different climate-smart cultivation methods on his farm. Credit: Lillian Aluso

A farmer describes how Alliance work implementing agriculture, nutrition and livelihood projects in Vihiga County has impacted his life since 2016.

Smallholder farmers in Vihiga County (Western Kenya) cultivate maize and beans as major food crops on an average of 0.4 hectares of land, similarly to most rural Kenyan households.

For over five years the Alliance (formerly operating as Bioversity International) has engaged the local community to identify challenges such as low dietary diversity, minimal incomes and livelihoods, and worked closely with community groups to develop options that can close these gaps.

Joseck Mukuna is a resident smallholder farmer based in the sublocation of Essunza. Like many other farmers in Vihiga County, he has faced the challenges of limited farmland, poor harvests, food and nutrition insecurity. On his small plot measuring only 0.1 ha Joseck has prioritized maize farming, like many of his neighbors. After four months of growth, this maize yields a maximum of one and half bags; which translates to around $45 per season, hardly enough to sustain his family (Joseck and his wife, Madina Mang’oli, have three children aged between 9-15 years).

Luckily for Joseck, he was one of the farmers engaged in the Alliance’s first intervention phase, in 2016.

“With support from the Alliance, the community identified various interventions including kitchen gardening, poultry-rearing, legume farming and nutrition education.  In addition, we also supported the community groups to develop their own action plans and activities in line with their selected interventions,” explains Alliance researcher Lillian Aluso.

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