In an era of increased societal awareness, it is imperative to foster a deeper understanding of the intricate relationship between agriculture, the environment, and the well-being of smallholder farmers. Promoting environmental and social safeguards sensitization exercises among farmers not only makes them stewards of the land but also enables them to make informed decisions and to become champions of social progress. This is crucial in creating a more sustainable and equitable future for agriculture and farmers.
By: Esther Nzuki, Ivy Kinyua, and Alex Nderi
On 11th - 13th, October 2023, AICCRA Kenya held environmental and social safeguards sensitization meetings(E&S) in Lewa Conservancy, (Meru County), and Laikipia University farm, (Laikipia County) comprising the Lewa Conservancy and Laikipia University partners, the cluster lead farmers, and several group members. The training focused on understanding the concept of CSA technologies, their expertise in the techniques, and the opportunities and challenges encountered while scaling up practices at both farm and landscape levels. The farmers were provided with valuable training on sustainable land management techniques, that aimed to educate them on sustainable farming practices which included crop rotation, reduced tillage, organic farming methods, and minimizing the use of harmful chemicals that impact the long-term health of their land.
"This exercise aims to enhance food security through upscaling of CSA practices and innovations, environmental conservation, and sustainable utilization of resources, and to improve livelihoods and sources of income as well as job creation at the farm level.” Mr. Alex Nderi, a Research and Program Associate at the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT
The sensitization process comprised two primary components, environmental and social aspects. The environmental aspect is centred on safeguarding and preserving the environment in which CSA practices are demonstrated to farmers while the social aspect ensures the well-being of farmers, group members, their families, and communities hosting AICCRA learning sites.
A critical element of the training was farmers' health and safety when procuring, using, storing, and handling chemicals, as the farmers were made aware of the environmental and health hazards posed by improper chemical handling. They learned of proper storage techniques and proper usage to minimize the risk of contamination. When preparing for the application of the chemicals, the farmers were highly encouraged to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is of high quality, washable, and durable for use multiple times.
To enhance farmers’ overall well-being, various critical aspects were addressed such as fostering group dynamics among the farmers, fair and timely payment of wages, and farm workers' security from any form of work exploitation. These social safeguards promote the well-being of farmers, enhance trust and transparency, and create decent work conditions. By implementing measures such as organic farming, and reducing the use of harmful pesticides, farmers can contribute to environmental preservation. Fostering social responsibility and supporting smallholder farmers can enhance the overall well-being of both the farmers and the community. By incorporating these safeguards into agricultural practices, farmers can play a crucial role in creating a sustainable and socially responsible future.