I have recently returned from a fantastic trip to Kenya to oversee activities on our climate change program. With three climate change projects running in Kenya, and with plans of scaling up this work to other tea growing countries, I was excited to see how things were progressing.

Double digging being demonstrated to farmersA key to success in our existing programmes is the support and backing we have gained from the Kenyan Tea Development Agency (KTDA). KTDA are very keen to support their 500,000 smallholder tea farmers because they see climate change as a critical issue to tea sustainability.

As part of this support KTDA have agreed to integrate climate change training into the Farmer Field School (FFS) curriculum at the factories where we’re working. This means the project now has the potential to reach far more smallholders than originally planned. Further, through KTDA support, Extension Officers at each factory have ownership over the project and are rolling out climate change adaptation training to both the smallholders within their catchment and community leaders.

Demonstration on how to install drip irrigationMy trip was organized to coincide with an Extension Officers training event for 5 factories east of the Rift. The training covered topics such as sustainable agriculture, organic farming, shade trees, frost and drought resistant tea clones, drip irrigation, highly productive kitchen gardens, new pests and diseases management, energy saving stoves and composting. The training, which was really well received, gives Extension Officers the confidence to deliver practical training to farmers within their catchments.  A key outcome of the training is for each factory to develop a climate change adaptation strategy, which ETP will then help them to implement.

The climate change program aims to work with partners and I had some great meetings whilst in Kenya. One was with the Kenyan Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF) who provide low cost training on high productivity, low cost organic kitchen gardens. KIOF will run their programme with farmers in KTDA Farmer Field School’s, and the project will fund the training of lead farmers.

Farmers being shown efficient planting patternsI also met with GIZ who are delivering two projects that will work well with our climate change program. In particular an energy saving stove project will be promoted and offered to farmers within the projects’ catchment.  This will be supported by a low cost insurance scheme aimed at smallholders.

All in all I feel that the trip was a great success and I am very excited to see what the project will deliver in the coming months.