Finger millet [Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.] is an indigenous cereal grown by smallholder farmers in Kenya and Uganda. However, despite considerable progress in research and dissemination of improved technologies of finger millet in both countries over the last decade, farmers have not benefited as much as they could from the improved technologies. Soils in the region are of low fertility as a result of continuous cropping and inadequate soil fertility enhancements strategies. This has led to food and nutritional insecurity, and low incomes resulting in declining living standards.This project will engage with farmers to assess how they can use locally available inputs as efficiently and effectively as possible to enhance soil health for sustainable finger millet production in the region. Interventions to be assessed with farmers will include legume rotations or intercropping, application of small amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers (micro-dosing), use of farm yard manure or poultry manure and any other nutrient inputs that farmers might have to test. These options will be evaluated, verified, demonstrated and disseminated in western Kenya and eastern Uganda, where the two principal researchers are based. Recognizing that farmers have the potential to set their production goals and to achieve them within their limits, and that adults learn best from their peers, the project will adopt a Farmer Research Network approach to diagnose production constraints and develop solutions in a participatory manner.
To contribute to sustainable finger millet productivity by improving soil health, soil conservation and nutrient cycling, conservation of above- and below ground biodiversity and maintenance of biologically active soils through N-fixation, biomass and organic matter recycling
Outputs and Outcomes:
OutputsIntegrated soil fertility management options that suit different contexts developedOperationalization of Farmer Research Networks (FRN) in western Kenya and eastern Uganda in finger millet based systems to improve production at smallholder levelGender responsive crop management practices(eg. driller for row planting) for improved production and productivity popularizedThe capacity of various stakeholders of the finger millet system builtOutcomesImproved soil health for sustainable finger millet and legume productionEmpowered finger millet farmers who can carry out research to solve their production constraints resulting in higher productivity of finger millet and legume production systemEnhanced mutually beneficial interactions and learning among and within farmer research networks in the region resulting in effective organizations and management and better representation Diversified production systems that enhances multiple component interactions between farmers and the natural ecosystem leading to higher quality of lifeChange in behavior of the target farming communities towards more sustainable finger millet production systems for improved livelihoods