Friday, 30 December 2011

ZAI- PITS Technology for sustainable agriculture and Food security in Kenya

Zai-Pit technology is a sustainable agriculture and food security technology which is widely practiced in sahel west Africa, a densely populated semiarid region bordering the Sahara desert. Zai pit technology has been the missing link in the Kenyans endeavors to achieve sustainable agriculture and food security for all. 

Zai Pit Sustainable agriculture technology has been used to grow bananas, sorghum, maize and millets successfully, particularly in the drier parts of the republic of Kenya. Zai pit is a low cost sustainable agriculture and food security technology which can be applied by farmers of all walks of life including the youth in agriculture and it involves harvesting and conservation of rain runoff and soil fertility restoration.

Lack of adequate water is a constant problem in farming due to seasonality of rains and frequent droughts caused by climate change. This leads to total crop failures or harvests that are too low to break-even. Irrigation for sustainable agriculture and food security is expensive and out of reach for most of the small holder farmers in rural Kenya. 

Many farmers did not realize that it is possible to double or triple their crop yields through rainwater harvesting using Zai Pit technology. However farmers now have a reason to smile in appreciation of Zai pit technology which has been introduced in low rainfall areas by NALEP SIDA Project, a partnership project between the government of Kenya through the ministry of Agriculture Kenya and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. This is a national agriculture and livestock extension programme implemented by agriculture extension officers and the relevant agriculture value chain stakeholders. 

The Zai pit technology ensures soil water retention allowing crops to grow to maturity after the rain ceases without additional water.Make Pits measuring approximately 60 cm deep x 60 cm diameter as follows digging the holes at alternate positions behind each other to allow adequate catchments area for sufficient run off to be produced :-

• Dig a pit 60 cm in diameter placing the topsoil (about the first 20cm depth) on the uphill side.
• Scoop out the subsoil to a depth of 60 cm and place the soil on the downhill side.

• Reshape this hole to resemble a semi circular bund to enable better water storage.
• Mix one medium size bucket of well decomposed manure with the top soil and return to the pit .Refill the pit leaving space at the top to collect and store runoff water.
• Sow one Banana sucker or 5-12 seeds of maize, sorghum or millet in the hole depending on the crop type, variety and climate. Seeds planted in pairs must be thinned to single plants later.