Organic Resource Management in Kenya
MetadataShow full item record
The Forum for Organic Resource Manage ment and Agricultural Technologies serves as a platform for promoting innovation among those seeking to make better use of what is too often overlooked. These under-utilized organic resources include crop residues, agro-industrial by-products, domestic wastes and native plants with poorly understood properties. Perspectives on the value of organic resources differ greatly. For example, on large farms, crop residues are considered a disposal problem while the poorest of smallhold farmers must scavenge for crop roots as a source of cooking fuel. The rush towards moderni zed agriculture has bypasse d better use of what was already available in rural areas, and the traditional knowledge to realize this lost advantage is held by fewer members of the rural community as time passes. Meanwhile in urban areas, accumulating garbage subjects residents to offensive sights and odours as well as unnecessary health risks. Waste recycling is too often viewed by planners and much of the pu blic as a large-scale industrial process, not as an opportunity for cottage industry or more efficiently operated households. But we humans are very adept at r esponding to changing circumstances, usually because we are responsible in one way or another for the changes in the first place. If necessity is the mother of invention, then under-utilized organic materials must be the father because w ithout curious minds and busy hands it is unlikely that we will improve our wellb eing and surroundings. Ambitious humans do not allow useful materials to be wasted and through a process of trial and error, we will develop means to turn adversity into advantage, and as we develop experience and skills, we discover the solu tions that hopefully will not lead to greater, unforeseen problems in the future. As Lamech Nyangena concluded in his hand-drawn poster at the first FORMAT event in September 2000, “ Surely nothing is useless! ” While some sophisticates dismissed this proclamation by a smallhold tea farmer from Kisii district as simplistic, most in attendance rallied to the call and, over the next two annual FORMAT events, many things ha d surely become valuable! Water hyacinth was being processed into compost, animal feed and handicrafts. Pest control products prepared from the ne em tree were carefully documented and attractively packaged, rather than rese mbling “backroom concoctions”. Useful oils, exudates and gums were being recove red and marketed by entrepreneurs, and their new products were provided free public ity by national news organizations. Seeds and products from under-recognized traditional crops were displayed and distributed. Research officers and farmers stood shoulder to shoulder examining composts prepared from different materials and stored in different ways. Cooking briquettes, household items, even plastic fence posts fabricated from domestic wastes were displayed and being market ed by entrepreneurial self-help groups.