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A group of farmers from 12 countries in Africa attended a training session sponsored by AFSA on the ‘ABC of Organic Agriculture’ from the 3rd-7th October at the SACDEP Training Centre in Thika, Kenya. The training was conducted by reknowned agronomist from Colombia, Jairo Restrepo.

Jairo Restrepo demonstrates how to make bio-activated charcoal

Jairo is an activist in the field of food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture. He has a hands on approach in his training that combines indigenous and scientific knowledge.

He is a lead teacher in the field of biofertilisers, bokashi micro organisms and chromatography. He also has extensive experience of implementing these at different scales through his consultation work.

He has published 40 scientific papers and 14 books on organic agriculture and participated in numerous conferences on the subject of organic agriculture and worked with 37 universities.

The 5 day intensive training enabled the farmers to get practical skills on how to make biofertilizer, bioactivated charcoal and soil chromatography.

Francis Were, one of the farmers who participated in the training

Francis Were, a retired civil servant and farmer from Kenya urged fellow farmers to get involved in such training’s to get empowered on agroecology and organic farming.

He also highlighted some of the challenges he faces farming traditional vegetables referring to regional trade agreements and their potential impact on local markets.

Were pointed out the issue of trade in seeds questioning the implications of regional trade agreements like Economic Partnerships Agreements between the East Africa Community and the European Union on small holder farmers like himself.

He urged AFSA to help inform farmers on such trade related developments.

Gloria Swanilayo, a farmer involved in Agroforestry in Ghana said that one of the major challenges she faces was managing pests. The training will enable her  to share knowledge on organic pest control with her fellow farmers.

Based on the success of the Thika training AFSA hopes to have similar training sessions by Jairo in East and West Africa.

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