By Florence Gichoya
There is increased population in Nairobi due to the rural – urban migration in search of jobs. The city has over 3 million inhabitants who live and work here. The high population and limited land resources in Nairobi has threatened food security for its habitants. In Nairobi, majority of the inhabitants survive on one meal per day and there have been reported cases of child malnutrition in slum areas
In the past year, there has been a surge in food prices yet the source of income has remained constant. The change in climate in the country has also led to sporadic food shortages in different parts of the country. Diversification in food production is essential in mitigating food shortage across the country. This can be achieved if Kenyans are encouraged to adopt new farming technologies that will increase crop yields.
I attended the Nairobi International Trade Fair organized by Agricultural Society of Kenya. The Ministry of Agriculture showcased different urban and Peri-urban technologies that can be applied by Nairobi residents in their backyards. For instance the multi-storey garden, a mobile garden than can be set up in a very small space yet bring a lot of returns to feed a family and entrepreneurial opportunities.
1. Open space of 2 by 2metres
2. Polythene paper with strong elasticity so that it’s able to hold the soil. It should be 1.5 metres long
3. Soil mixed with manure (five wheelbarrows)
4. Ballast (one wheelbarrow)
5. A tin (get a 2kg tin and remove the bottom part so that it’s the shape of a cylinder)
6. Four wooden posts 2 meters long
7. 150 seedlings
How to make a multi-storey garden
– Place the four wooden posts at the corners in the polythene bag to hold the weight of the soil
– Place the tin at the center in the polythene bag and put ballast in it
– Fill the polythene bag with the soil and ensure the ballast column is in the middle. Don’t press the soil to ensure the roots grow
– The ballast will ensure that the water to spread evenly in the bag when you water it
– In some areas of Nairobi that have cotton soil, one should use a lot of manure
– Water for two days before planting
– Using a knife or a sharp stick, make holes on the polythene bag where you’ll plant the seedlings. The holes should be 20cm apart
– Transplant the vegetable seedlings from the nursery to your multi-storey garden
– Water the plants twice a day
Ruth Nyasera, a Ministry of Agriculture official, said that “Nairobi can adequately feed itself if the city dwellers would take advantage of new farming technologies. You only need a small open space and little capital”. The polythene bag can hold 150 plants and provide food security for a year. The soil in the polythene bag can be changed after 3 years.
Integrated farming technologies can offer lasting solutions and provide food for Nairobi and its environs.