Born in 1950, 65 year old Maurice Ogolla is a widower with a family of three children. Before starting farming he was a typist by profession until he retired in 2005. He got into conventional farming immediately after retirement since he did not have any reliable source of income to depend on. According to him this was not productive since he used to cultivate large pieces of land but the net produce could not match his efforts,” I was doing some farming which was not productive to me. ”. For him it was such a costly practice since he could always purchase inputs such as fertilizer to ensure he produces enough for his family looking at the fact that he was only producing for subsistence farming.
Currently, he has a 1.25 acre piece of land furnished with a fence and 10000 litres water tank which he set up after attending PDC trainings in the year 2010 and 2013. These facilities were obtained through the support of PRI-Kenya. With this support he is now able to do two planting seasons which is not the case on the Rusinga Island where most farmers practice only one cropping season in a year. Despite the 1.25 piece of land he only uses 0.5 acre where he is able provide food for himself and his brother’s family of 6 members.
Last season he was able to harvest 1 sack of dry maize and 50kg of cassava from a 25* 30 feet plot. He attributes this to the massive trainings supported by PRI-Kenya where he learned new ideas like bio-intensive farming hence the application of companion planting to maintain diversity on his farm. Additionally, he has been able to generate 4000 Kenya shillings from the sale of cowpea at the local market within a period of two months apart from the daily consumption of traditional vegetables and paw-paw grown in the farm.
He has been able to use ideas like composting which are affordable and sustainable to him unlike previously where he had to purchase fertilizer for a large piece of land which he could not afford. He also appreciates the practice because he feels he is working with nature to produce safe food for consumption. He is currently raising 120 Moringa trees of which the he is yet to start the harvesting of leaves and seeds.