Richard Osiyo Addresses Food Crisis and Water Pollution in Kenya with Integrated Rice and Fish Farming Technique

Posted by: Kelley Welf

Tagged in: rice , Osiyo , Lake Victoria , Kenya , fish , Azolla , agriculture , Africa

Kelley Welf

I recently posted updates on two Lindbergh Grant recipients who have completed their research projects.  As always, I find the projects we fund to be so interesting.  I especially like it when a simple idea solves a complex problem.

Take Richard Osiyo for example.  He was faced with finding a problem to Kenya's continuing food crisis while protecting the Lake Victoria water basin from pollutants.  Clearly, throwing more chemical fertilizers at this agricultural problem was not a viable solution.   The Lindbergh Foundation gave Richard a grant so he could work on a project entitled,

“Training Kenyan Farmers to Integrate Rice and Fish Farming to Increase Production and Reduce Harmful Run-off in the Lake Victoria Basin”

Farmer holds fishUsing Lindbergh Grant funds, Mr. Osiyo introduced rice straw, Azolla green manure (a water fern) and urea, as nutrient sources to improve soil fertility and higher yields  in irrigated rice production. The organic materials supply nutrients and cause immobilization of nitrates and phosphates contained in irrigation water.  This prevents the transfer of nutrients from the rice fields to Lake Victoria where they cause pollution. By integrating fish and rice, soil fertility improves because of the waste from the fish. In addition, the fish eat insect pests from the rice and aquatic weeds in the rice fields.

The presence of fish is an integral part of this innovative system.  The fish actually contribute to a positive trickle-down effect as they:  

  1. Reduce the need to use chemical fertilizers in rice production and improves food production,
  2. Reduce malnutrition and increases farmer’s income because families can eat or sell the fish, and
  3. Reduce pollution in Lake Victoria and other water bodies downstream.

The results of this project have shown that the rice-fish-Azolla farming system improves the overall quality of life for the farmers as they are able to increase agricultural production.  All the farmers who participated in the project have adopted the technology and achieved better yields from their crops.  Mr. Osiyo plans to continue with the study.

Who would have thought that fish and especially fish poop could help improve the problem of food shortages and reduce the amount of pollution flowing into Lake Victoria!

You can read Mr. Osiyo's final report by clicking here.