KARl Technical Note Series No. 13 March 2003

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Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
Declining soil fertility due to poor nutrient management is a major constraint to crop and livestock production in the sub-humid highlands of western Kenya. Since 1994, the Soil Management Project (SMP) under the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARl) with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation has been developing and testing several low-cost soil management technologies for improving farm productivity and incomes in the KARl-Kitale and KARl-Kisii mandate regions. The project adopted a participatory, multi-institutional and multidisciplinary holistic approach to soil management. The Farmer Participatory Research (FPR) approach facilitated farmers to understand their farming systems, identify farming system constraints, identify and analyse soil fertility management options and conduct experiments to evaluate various technological options. In phase one (1994-2000) of SMP, technologies were developed using the FPR approach with a hope that farmers would quickly adopt them. However, a diffusion study conducted in the region in 2000 showed that the adoption of these technologies as low. This was attributed to lack of awareness of the technologies by the wider communities. The initial focus in phase two (2001-2005) was therefore to scale up the technologies to more farming communities within the region in order to enhance food security and alleviate poverty among smallholder farmers using the FPR and Farmer Field School (FFS) which are community based approaches.