New Spin on Old Farming Technique Takes Root in Kenya

(COVINGTON, La.)— Seedballs Kenya aims to re-vegetate the arid Kenyan landscape through unique farming methods. On average Kenya loses about 12,000 hectares, or about 46 square miles of forest per year. According to the Kenya Forestry Working Group, Kenya could lose an estimated 300 million U.S. dollars per year due to the impact of deforestation upon the tourism, tea and energy industries.

Seedballs Kenya is tackling this issue, and more issues, through unique farming methods such as “seed balling” which is a rediscovered way of propagating plants without having to open up the soil with a plow or hoe. Teddy Kinyanjui and Elsen Karstad, two of the people behind Seedballs Kenya, are mass producing seed balls, but their new spin on an age old farming technique is to coat the seeds in biochar instead of clay. Biochar is charcoal produced from plant matter that can be added to soil to improve its nutrient content. Seedballs Kenya has a perfect supply of biochar that is supplied by companies and locals alike because charcoal making became a popular income-generating activity as early as 1915. This symbiotic relationship between charcoal producers and seed ball producers allowed the Seedballs Kenya company to grow into what it is today. 

Today the company aims to fight deforestation in Kenya by distributing seed balls in new and strategic ways such as “seed bombing.” Seed bombing is exactly what it sounds like: the practice of flying over land and airdropping the seed balls so that they can take root and germinate when the rains come.

This photo, courtesy of Seedballs Kenya, shows firsthand just how the seed bombing is accomplished.

Another inventive way that the company is promoting the growth of their product is through the sale of slingshots made out of recycled materials that can be used to slingshot the seed balls out into the environment. Seedballs Kenya is also helping in the fight against rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere because forests and vegetation are carbon sinks, and by repopulating the foliage, it enables the absorption of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. This is especially important now more than ever because levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen to about 400 parts per million (ppm), instead of the usual range of 170 ppm to 300 ppm that has been present in the last 800,000 years. According to Climate.gov, scientists predict that this level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could drastically increase to around 900 ppm in the next century unless actions are taken to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide levels over the last 800,000 years. -Climate.gov

The problem of deforestation and rising carbon dioxide levels is not only a global issue, but also a local issue to the Kenyan people who deal with problems caused by deforestation. Deforestation can cause soil erosion, desertification, and flooding which all in turn can produce a lesser crop yield to the farmers of Kenya. World Vision staff reported that about 14 million children in East Africa struggle to get the nutrition they need. Through the efforts of Seedballs Kenya to revegetate the Kenyan environment, they are not only helping in the fight against rising CO2 levels and deforestation, but also in the humanitarian effort to curb world hunger.

Seedballs Kenya is ready to make the grass greener on both sides of the fence with the help of a multitude of conservation organizations including, the Land & Life Foundation, the Big Life Foundation, and the Lion Guardians. If you’re looking to help in the fight against deforestation, donations of seed balls can be distributed/planted by these organizations on your behalf.

For additional information on Seedballs Kenya visit http://www.seedballskenya.com.

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