The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Richard Osiyo, MOI University, Eldoret, Kenya

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

Category: Agriculture: 2009

Rice is a very important food crop worldwide. Most Sub-Saharan African countries import rice, including Kenya. Small farmers in Kenya recognize the need to improve their crop yield through the use of inorganic resources, but it is expensive. The Kenyan government has declared a national crisis resulting from high input prices and drought causing a food shortage. There is also a national concern about the pollution of Lake Victoria. Mr. Osiyo plans to use rice straw, Azolla (a water fern) and inorganic fertilizer to increase soil fertility and build soil nitrogen levels 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 increases through 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 contributes to a reduction in the use of chemical fertilizers in rice production and improves food production, reduces malnutrition and increases farmer’s income, while reducing pollution in Lake Victoria and other water bodies downstream. As a result of this work, it is hoped that long-term improvement of soil fertility will be achieved contributing to sustainable food production. This project is unique because it is the first of its kind in the Lake Victoria basin of the Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania where there is great potential for its success and adoption.

From the Final Report

threshing riceThe project introduced a technology which has contributed to increased rice and fish production while reducing runoff effect on Lake Victoria. All farmers who participated in the project have adopted the technology for better yields. The results of this project has shown that rice-fish-Azolla farming system improves quality of life through increased agricultural production while preserving the natural and human environment.

Mr. Osiyo plans to continue with the study by looking at the factors that influence the amount of nitrogen Azolla fixes. The study will guide in the adjustment of field conditions especially water quality for maximum nitrogen fixation (that is conversion of nitrogen in atmosphere into nitrates useful to plants). This will improve quality of Azolla as a green manure and fish feed. It will also improve the effectiveness of the fern in extracting phosphates from irrigation water to prevent downstream pollution. He intends to request for funds from relevant organizations which fund agricultural projects. The findings will be published then distributed to the Lindbergh Foundation, the rice irrigation board, Ministry of Agriculture and local NGOs.

He is currently writing grants for funds to continue this work.

fish in rice plot

FMI:  Read the Final Report.

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