News from the field - FACASI

Louisa Cass (DFAT Kenya and South Sudan) has a good look at the Fitarelli Seeder from Brazil
Friday, 11 April 2014

The Farm Mechanisation & Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI) project marked its first year of activities in Kenya and Tanzania in March 2014. Twelve months ago the project was launched in Arusha Tanzania where quite some time was spent planning and discussing what activities should take place within the first year. The aim of this project, which is active in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, is to identify appropriate small-scale machines (e.g. 2-wheel tractors) to improve farming practices (such as planting, harvesting, milling and transporting), and the commercial mechanisms needed to deliver these to smallholder farmers. The project will identify opportunities to create new markets for equipment and services, and supporting policies and networks

Since the launch, several participants have joined the project team, while others have left. Most encouraging was the presence of service providers and a local inventor at the recently held planning meeting in Nanyuki, Kenya – one of the project sites. We also had a colleague from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) join us for the first day of the planning meeting and the field trip.

This project is working with scientists, business specialists, mechanical and agricultural engineers, farmers and inventors. It has the potential to move the communities applying the business models from sustenance farming to income farmers. One year on, the project has already identified the best bet technologies for testing in Kenya, while Tanzania is a bit behind due to complications encountered during importation. The two countries had many lessons to share during this meeting and there was opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas.


Mr Muruiki (left) and Mr Mutie (right) also known as the “Fitarelli brothers” make their living as CA farmers and service providers in the region. Mr Muruiki also trains draught animals for farmers all around the country. Mr Mutie attended the entire FACASI planning meeting and shared his experiences on the ground

On the second day of the meeting we had the opportunity to visit a farmers’ cooperative in Laikipia known as Buuri Cooperative society, who have donated their grounds for on-station and on-farm testing of the equipment. The farmers had many questions to ask of the project team and were eager to start using the equipment during the incoming long rains of March to July.

Kenya sees the potential of creating hubs to provide services around the FACASI equipment while Tanzania will have a different model. Since this is a research project we will have to wait and see what model works best where and what impact it will have on the farming communities who often have to face hunger seasons every year!

See here for more details on the project