Farmer-led field validation and upscaling is one of the main activities in InnovAfrica project. The objective is to test/validate maize/millet-legume intercropping or rotation systems and Brachiaria forage systems on farmers’ fields using lead farmers combined with innovative extension and institutional approaches.
(i) Maize/millet-legume testing and/or upscaling
The first-year trials were successfully completed, and promising results were found in most of the sites. For example, in Malawi, a biomass (grains + stover) yield of 11 ton/ha was obtained from maize- pigeon pea intercropping/ conservation agriculture approach compared to 3 ton /ha from sole maize systems. Farmers involvement in the research trials in all the study sites was very high. In total, 212 lead farmers were actively involved in the maize/millet-legume intercropping trials. In Ethiopia, 33 lead farmers participated in the farmer-led experimentation of maize-common bean intercropping trial. Simultaneously, farmer field days were conducted to expose and disseminate the innovations potential to other farmers through farmer to farmer extension
(ii) Brachiaria forage up scaling and/or validation trials
The Brachiaria up scaling and validation trials in the study sites of Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda were also successful. For instance, in Kenya, a total of 158 on-farm, farmer led trials in Kangundo sub-county and Kirinyaga county were established to test different Brachiaria cultivars. Basilisk cultivar > MG4 > Xaraes > Piata were ranked in their order of preference according to farmers evaluations.
Evaluations and scaling up of improved Brachiaria grass were implemented by more than 1340 farmers in Kenya, 80 farmers in Rwanda, and 60 farmers in Tanzania. In all these countries, government agencies are positive about Brachiaria as it helps in dairy value chain enhancement and are pledging their support for scaling up. As one farmer said “Brachiaria has shown us the way to go ahead for dairy farming”.
‘We are very excited with the Brachiaria work and we shall give full support in implementation of the project. Brachiaria will improve the dairy industry in Kirinyaga County”
– Hon Dr Jackan Gutu, County Executive Chief, Agriculture, Livestock, Vet & Fisheries, Kirinyaga County