The Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF) is an officially registered technical training institution NO. MOHEST/PC/1361 and Non-Governmental organization (NGO). It is situated in Juja off – Thika highway, near Ndarugo Motel. KIOF launched its first activities in 1987 – The Farmers Training and Extension Programme, which aimed at bringing the awareness of the challenges associated with conventional chemical farming (fertilizers and pesticides)
The advantages of environmentally – sound-farming methods, appropriate to small-scale farmers led to widespread public interest in the program. Numerous requests were received from development organizations in Eastern Africa for training in organic farming.
After the initial strong growth, KIOF found that there was necessity to verifying some of the organic methods adopted by farmers. KIOF therefore started looking into opportunities for on-farm trials and research so as to supply relevant back up data.
A Program to incorporate youth training in organic agriculture was launched in 1995. This led to an Organic Agriculture Certificate course with the aim of assisting the youth to develop careers in Organic farming. A diploma program was launched in 2004 and the Certificate Stream gradually phased out.
The Diploma Program takes 2 years of theoretical and practical learning. Due to the growing interest in this field and high demand for profession knowledge in organic agriculture, KIOF launched a 2-year Distance Learning Diploma program in 2006
A RENEWED APPROACH TO AGRICULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Organic farms and gardens have been operating years in many countries and climates. By reviving and developing sound husbandry practices they have shown that it is possible to combine good yields with high quality produce, lasting soil fertility and improved overall environment.
The Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF) aims at making this experience available to all farmers and other stakeholders.
KIOF connects itself especially with the small – scale farmers who make up the majority of the farming community in Kenya. It is the small – scale farmers who are, in effect, the care takers of the natural environment. KIOF wants to stimulate better management of the environment by starting with sound agricultural principles on the farm.
KIOF organizes training sessions for groups of farmers: women groups, youth and other CBOs in the rural areas. KIOF comes into contact with these groups through various organizations, churches, government institutions and individuals.
WHY ORGANIC AGRICULTURE?
- A problem in today’s agriculture is the need for cash. This need moves the nation as a whole and especially the farmer into cash crop farming.
- Most of which are non – food crops.
- The family food production is often neglected. This leads to poorer diets and poorer health of the farming community. The remedy for this situation is organic farming.
Organic farming is based on mixed farming principles. Experiences show that mixed farming practices lead to better food and income stability. It does not exclude the cash crop but it puts it in the right place. The cash crop can become part of the farm’s crop rotation which puts emphasis on diversity of crops thereby raising the ecological balance of the farm. It provides a more complete diet for the family. Diversity in production means less risk, and better food and health within the farm.
Production is based on maximum recycling of organic wastes and careful handling of manures and composts, careful soil cultivation and use of natural rock minerals, if necessary.
Weed control is based on crop rotation and physical methods. Pests and disease control is sustained by understanding and maintaining physical, biological and ecological balances. These include traditional methods which are now being scientifically proven.
The use of trees for shade, mulching, soil improvement, fruit, fodder and fuel production is of great importance, and correct understanding of their place on the farm is part of organic practice. Besides, trees protect the land from strong winds and improve the climate of the area.
A fresh look is taken at the question of marketing. This is done with a view to improved understanding of the needs of the grower and the requirements of the consumer.
Thinking in terms of organic agriculture means reviving and developing sound husbandry practices which include the human and the social surroundings of the farm. The farm is able to function as an organism in which all parts support each other.