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Participatory Diagnosis of Soil Nutrient Depletion in Semi-arid Areas of Kenya

This paper describes the participatory diagnostic process undertaken to develop improved land and water management techniques in semi-arid areas of Kenya. Such diagnosis is an essential initial step in a Participatory Learning and Action Research (PLAR) programme to develop appropriate techniques at farm level and formulate suitable policy recommendations. Soils from various participatory farms were looked at with the help of farmers, extension agents, and researchers who all gained insights into the causes of soil nutrient depletion. The results of the diagnostic phase have been incorporated into a programme in which the same group of farming households test appropriate technical innovations and use participatory procedures to evaluate their performance. In this way it is hoped that farmers and researchers will be better able to understand the possibilities for maintaining soil fertility and increasing sustainable output in the harsh ecological and economic conditions prevalent in the area.

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