Regen-Kilimo: Harnessing the Power of Insects to Help Farmers in Kenya

Black soldier flies and red wiggler worms are perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about what best practices we could adopt for more sustainable farming — but it turns out these creepy-crawlers have remarkable capabilities that are often overlooked in our contemporary agricultural world. Regen-Kilimo is harnessing the powers of these tiny creatures to transform smallholder farming landscapes through regenerative practices and innovative waste-to-value solutions.

According to the initiative, unlike traditional agricultural models that often rely on linear resource consumption, Regen-Kilimo upcycles valuable resources in the form of nutrient-rich fertilizers and insect-based animal feeds via the incorporation of black soldier flies and red wiggler worms.

This insect-centric approach unlocks benefits including waste reduction, enhanced soil fertility, and improved livestock nutrition. The core of their program is supported by the notion of upcycling organic waste into invaluable resources.

Regen-Kilimo, which is so far based in Kenya (but plans to expand elsewhere across the African continent), works directly with smallholder farmers to train and empower them to become stewards of this transformative process. Regenerative farming using flies and worms is a delicate artform; farmers learn the practice and are able to convert waste into nutrient-rich fertilizers and insect-based animal feeds. This approach addresses waste management challenges while providing cost-effective, sustainable inputs that boost soil health and livestock nutrition. It also means that farmers can reduce the amount of money spent on synthetic inputs, which also have negative health attributes. Regen-Kilimo fosters a holistic approach to agriculture, incorporating regenerative practices into every facet of smallholder farming. Farmers are guided towards embracing organic farming methodologies, harnessing products from insect and worm farming as natural alternatives to chemicals.

photo provided by Regen-Kilimo

Sustainable farming requires a holistic approach to addressing the many problems that plague the industry, especially for low-income, smallholder farmers. Instead of focusing on individual aspects of sustainable agriculture, Regen-Kilimo uniquely combines waste management, regenerative practices, and crop diversification. But they don’t stop once the seeds are planted and it’s time to harvest; the initiative also employs an aggregation model that directly connects smallholder farmers with markets. By circumventing traditional intermediaries, Regen-Kilimo empowers farmers to access better prices, stimulating economic growth at the local level and promoting equitable market participation. Finally, Regen-Kilimo is grounded in a community-centered philosophy, prioritizing active involvement of smallholder farmers and fostering a collective commitment to sustainable practices that extends beyond the training programs. Their focus on women farmers is particularly noteworthy.

According to the initiative, their work has direct economic, social, and health benefits for farmers and their surrounding communities. Farmers benefit from increased economic income, market access, cost savings, and job creation. Regen-Kilimo results in positive community changes, including capacity building, social cohesion, and gender inclusivity. Finally, the initiative claims their farming practices are good for the health of humans as well as the environment, with benefits including increased nutrition, reduced chemical exposure, and waste management.

Learn more about Regen-Kilimo.


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