CULTURING THE FUTURE WITH PERMACULTURE by Shirley Andeyo
To impart Permaculture knowledge and technology to smallholder farmers to achieve the UN's 2030 agenda sustainable development goals.
The2030 agenda for sustainable development goals was formulated and agreed upon by 193 countries from all over the world. 17 goals were set with the aim of eradicating poverty and realizing an economic transformation. These goals cannot be achieved all at once, therefore the need for a synergistic approach. In light of this, this proposal discusses how most of the SDGs can be achieved with very minimal tradeoffs. Permaculture in simpler terms is a system where small to medium scale farmers can practice agriculture in tandem with their surrounding nature.It is a design system for sustainable food production and habitats, linking ecology, culture, economics, and society to sustain agricultural productivity and biodiversity promoting viable farming communities. It is a synthesis of many disciplines including agro-ecology, organic agriculture, bio-intensive and appropriate technology. Through careful observation and thoughtful design, permaculture aims to create systems that use resources efficiently, minimizing inputs and maximizing outputs, whilst regenerating the natural environment, building soil fertility and regenerating water tables. The strength of permaculture lies in its emphasis on designing systems specific to the context and its bottom-up, approach to knowledge and innovation. Its emphasis on low cost and accessible techniques to preserve resources and maximize productivity is further well suited to places where resources are scarce. Agro-ecological methods used in permaculture are proven to significantly improve yields and income for small-holder farmers in developing countries, whilst providing essential ecosystem services such as improving biodiversity and soil fertility and reducing vulnerability to climate change.
Under this proposal we borrow the concept of teaching farmers sustainable agricultural practices to improve the soil fertility of their degraded farmland and reduce their dependence on unsustainable agricultural inputs such as the synthetic fertilizers. The project will teach the farmers to develop a culture of producing almost everything they consume as food and at the same time gain some level of income. We will develop a demonstration farm in our resource centre to assist with teaching. We will also develop a seedling nursery to kick-start the agroforestry part of this project.
In this second proposal, we pick simple on-farm technologies that have worked in different areas (sloping topology). Our concern here is using this idea to teach our farmers who are in sloping areas the concepts of rainwater management. This concept was modify to suit the permaculture swale (Digging bumps along the contour lines) concept which is a technology to slow, spread and sink water into the soil.
NOTE: The selected proposals are combined to accomplish the most of the SDGs. Permaculture may require a total change of behaviour i.e. farmers have to listen to nature and work with it rather then against it, which is the key mantra on permaculture principles. In addition farmers and everyone for that matter has to have an idea on climate change and its consequences both locally and globally. With this information at hand it is easier to establish the practise to take up and which to desist from, moving forward. The best way to make this happen is by creating awareness. It’s clear that the universe is but a small village thanks to technology, therefore this proposal takes advantage of that to discuss the importance of establishing a resource hub.
What actions do you propose?
WHY FARMERS NEED THIS PROJECT
Having worked with both young and old farmers, it is clear that they are feeling and aware of the devastating effects of climate change and unsustainable farming practices. Having talked to them, it is not in their best interest to watch what is going on in their environment, their stock of food and water, their soils most importantly, and their community. The farmers agree that we cannot have continued success without learning to be stewards of our land. There is an immense need for knowledge on how to be sustainable among farmers, both at individual and community level. Farmers are eager to learn and the only thing stopping them is the lack of such facilities as Permaculture Resource Centre where they can just walk in and get all the information they need. The Mobile platform also makes it a unique approach bringing this information right at the doorstep for farmers to uptake.
Build a physical Permaculture Resource Hub. A space where people can network with individuals and projects, as well as catalyze community organization and action. Our mission is to build resilience at the personal, household and community levels while creating thriving examples of abundance based on ecological wisdom. The center hopes to provide, to women farmer groups, youths and the general public, the following services
- A complete Permaculture Design Course for the farmers
- Help farmers develop their own model farms using permaculture ethics and principles.
- Offer extension service to the farmers both on farm and through a mobile platform. (Where the Resource Hub will work in partnership with a leading telecommunication company in Kenya (Safaricom) to develop an SMS code system for the Centre where farmers can access agricultural information through a text message in their local languages by sending an SMS with the problem to the code for free.
- Organize events called Permaculture Action Hubs at large gatherings and music festivals as a central space for workshops, classes, panel discussions, and skill-shares focused on regenerative ecology, social transformation, community building, and permaculture design.
- Teach farmers about natural medicine and help them establish kitchen gardens, herb gardens and food forest.
SDG 13 climate action
The pilot location and area of study shall be Kenya. In Kenya, the most adverse climate change impacts are floods and drought.
(effects of drought and famine. picture taken in North-Eastern region of Kenya )
Negative impacts of climate change are a major setback to all forms of developmental goals therefore affects the realization of the SDGs. The worse an area is hit by effects of climate change the harder the SDGs are to achieve.
Below is a table representation of some of the SDGs and how diificult it is to achieve theSDGs depending on the the region and the climate change impacts they experience
Summary of Potential and Realized Benefits of Permaculture in Relation to The Sustainable development goals
(source:achieving SDGs through agriculture: Empowering poor women to build the future Sunustar Setboonsarng and Elsbeth E. Gregorio, November 2017)
SDG 1: No Poverty
- Provide income to poor and marginal farmers
- Low cash costs suitable to poor and marginal farmers
- Sustainable production
- Higher income from premiums of organic produce
- Labor-intensive nature can help absorb excess rural labor and can lower rates of rural–urban migration for work
SDG 2: Zero Hunger
- Diversified cropping system mitigates risks of crop failure
- More nutritious food
- Improved productivity and sustainability of productive bases
- Helps protect genetic resources
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
- Non-exposure to chemicals improves health and promotes healthy lifestyles
SDG 5: Gender Equality
- Providing more avenues for employment of women, empowering them by way of added income
- Its labor-intensive nature provides safe local employment for women, thus avoiding migration to urban areas for work
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- Less fertilizer leaching, which reduces pollution of water bodies
- Indirect effect of improved access to safe water and sanitation
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
- A possible source of energy are the animals in integrated farms that incorporate organic principles
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Organic agriculture provides a safer and healthier working environment by way of non-exposure to chemical inputs
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
- Modernization of the organic agriculture sector will provide training and facilities for farmers, particularly in the areas of certification, traceability, marketing, and harvest and post-harvest technologies and knowledge
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
- The steady income from sustainable practices can only improve over time, hence has the potential to bridge gaping inequalities
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
- The growth of ethical consumerism has increased the support of consumers for crops produced in environmentally and socially responsible production
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
- Permaculture ensures little input is applied to achieve maximum output and consumption is in a way that preserves natural resources for posterity
SDG 13: Climate Action
- Organic farming practices mitigate climate change and help farms become resilient to extreme weather patterns and events
SDG 14: Life Below Water
- As synthetic chemicals are not used in organic farms, agriculture’s negative externalities in water bodies are minimized
SDG 15: Life on Land
- Organic practices promote the health of soil to produce healthy food. Healthy soils are also a major carbon sink.
SDG 16 & 17: Peace and Justice, Strong Institutions and Partnerships for the goals
- Under organic contract farming, international agribusiness firms can provide sustainable livelihoods to small farmers in developing countries, making these firms key partners in rural development and agricultural modernization.
Below is a diagrammatic representation of the above information.
Fundamentally permaculture is more holistic approach to achieving the SDGs
Who will take these actions and which types of actors are involved?
Actors (bottom up approach)
- Permaculture Research Institute Kenya already exist. However their focus is more in the enterprise end of organically produced products. We would work together with them in this capacity. They will form the link for the farmer’s products to the market since they already command quite a significant share of the sustainable products market.
- The authors will be the first actors by establishing a center.
- In Kenya women groups (chamas) have spearheaded projects and achieved great things, therefore they will be the key focus for the success of this project. Youth groups and farmer groups will also be involved in the grassroots level.
- Local government i.e. village elders, chiefs etc are still very functional in many parts of rural Kenya so they will be involved for local authority to carry out certain activities.
- With the recent devolution of the nation the county government can be consulted/ involved for funding of big projects.
- National government will be involved through environmental, agricultural and telecommunication organization.
- Other affiliates such as learning institutions, NGOs, and international bodies can be part of it to provide research data or donations and any other kind of partnership. We are particularly interested in working with primary schools to introduce permaculture concept.
Where will these actions be taken and how could they scale?
These actions will mostly target rural setups of developing countries in East Africa, particularly Kenya where most of the agricultural activities take place. However, through the Permaculture Action Hub, we intend to go further and reach out the general public. Our intention is to participate in public events both in big urban towns and small rural centers to spread the gospel of sustainably culturing the future with Permaculture.
In addition, specify the countries where these actions will be taken.
No country selected
No country selected
What impact will these actions have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?
By changing agriculture to one that regenerates soil organic carbon, we can not only reverse climate change, but we can also improve farm yields, increase water-holding capacity and drought resilience, and reduce the use of toxic agrochemicals.
- The Ability to Reverse Climate Change: Studies show that using permaculture practices would eliminate 946.72 gt of CO2 and return climate change back or close to the pre-industrial heights of 278 ppm in 60 years.
- We Must Stabilize CO2 Now! The most urgent objective according to the Paris agreement is to stabilize the CO2 in the atmosphere to 400 ppm to avoid any further upsurges in climate change. This is achievable by adopting both renewable energy and energy efficiency which is upheld in permaculture ethics and principles.
- The Urgent Need to Get Started to Scale Up: All that is needed is to scale up the existing good regenerative organic practices that produce visible solutions in sinking CO2.
What are the most innovative aspects and main strengths of this approach?
The strength lies on the emphasis of designing systems specific to the context & it's bottom-up, rather than top-down approach to knowledge & innovation. Its emphasis on low cost & accessible techniques to preserve resources & maximize productivity is further well suited to places where resources are scarce. Agro-ecological methods are proven to significantly improve yields & income for small-holder farmers, whilst providing essential ecosystem services like improving biodiversity & soil fertility & reducing vulnerability to climate change.
its a real struggle to prioritize SDGs .In developing Nations more focus is on rapid economic growth at the expense of environmental & social sustainability.This project aims to create systems that use local resources efficiently, minimizing inputs and maximizing outputs, whilst regenerating the natural environment, building soil fertility & regenerating water tables. further aims to create a low cost but sustainable access to information.
What are the proposal’s projected costs?
Because this proposal endorses several stakeholders, we hope to raise funds from a number institutions and organizations. We are also open to NGOs and Philanthropists who would wish to partner with us.
Besides these funding options, we plan to involve volunteers to help us with some of our activities. This way, we will be able to cut down the implementation cost.The total cost of implementing this proposal is approximated to be between 30,000 - 70,000 USD. At least 30,000 USD will be required to jumpstart the project. A total cost of 70,000 USD would see complete implementation of the proposed project. A tentative project budget is attached below;
About the Authors
Shirley is a Kenyan Citizen, currently working at the National Environment Management Authority (Kenya). Previously worked for Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute and Lafarge Ecosystems Kenya.
Holds a Bachelor's degree in Coastal And Marine Resource Management.
Reagan works as the Extension and Research Officer for PermEzone project implemented by Sustainable Village Resources (SVR) in Rongo in partnership with Permaculture Research Institute, Kenya (PRI- Kenya). He joined the PRI-Kenya project team in June 2017. Reagan is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Environmental Planning and Management at Kenyatta University. He is a holder of Bachelor of Science Degree in Coastal and Marine Resource Management from the same University. Reagan took his Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) Course in Drylands Natural Resource Centre (DNRC) in March 2017. He has worked for different NGOs and Government institutions before joining the PRI – Kenya team. Reagan worked for Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute as a Research Assistant. During this time, he worked closely with other researchers to implement Mikoko Pamoja, a community carbon offset project in Kwale County. Late last year, Reagan worked with University of Helsinki’s Taita research Station as a project Intern implementing Adaptation for Ecosystem Resilience in Africa (AFERIA) project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland and Coordinated by International Centre for Insect Physiology (ICIPE) in Taita Taveta County.
What enabling environment would be required in order to implement this proposal?
Incentives: The success of the project will indeed depend in large part on farmer acceptance of the ideas. We are encouraged by the fact that farmers are open to alternatives. My experience with farmers is that all they need is a demonstration that the idea you are selling works. This is why we are proposing to have a resource centre with demo farms. This will trigger and escalate the acceptance of the concept. Setting up models farms for our farmers on their own farms will also trigger interest from neighbouring villages hence ensuring up scaling
Market Linkages: There is an increasing attitude shift among the Kenyan consumers of agricultural products. The population, today is more concerned about where their food come from and what methods were used to produce the food with preference given to organically and sustainably produce food. Besides, these sustainably produced food fetch more in the market compared to their counterparts. Taping into this already existing market will ensure economic sustainability for the farmers.
Research Linkages: Permaculture as a concept has numerous opportunities that can be taken up by the farmers. However, there is a gap due to lack of data. There is therefore the need for this project to inviting researchers to study and document permaculture concept as sustainable way of solving global problems using empirical data. Project will also have student volunteer program that can later trigger interest for more detailed research.