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To Fight Drought, Kenyan Women Farmers Adopt Conservation Agriculture

MERU COUNTY, KENYA – About three years ago, when 49-year-old Margaret Gaceke started leaving crop residue in her fields following harvests, people in her village were horrified at what they saw as laziness.

“Traditionally, everyone cleaned the farms by burning crop and weed residues or any other types of vegetation [left over] after harvesting,” explains Gaceke, who lives in Central Imenti, in eastern Kenya’s Meru County.

But the mother of two says she started leaving the residue in place after taking a class on conservation agriculture provided by the local Kaguma Farmers self-help group. During each planting and harvesting season, the group of 25 farmers attends training sessions funded by the European Union through the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and run by Kenya’s agriculture ministry. Held at a demonstration farm, the lessons teach farmers everything from what seeds to sow to how to market their produce.

Department of Foreign Affairs

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