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Standard Backpack Farm Program Inputs Include:

  •  Soil Testing Bag
  • Indigenous or Drought Resistant Hybrid (Certified) Seed Pack
  • John Deere Water Technologies’ Gravity Fed Drip Irrigation System with filter
  • Water Tank
  • “Fusion Nutrition” Soil & Crop Protection Program
  • 8 - 12 Liter Chemical Sprayer
  • Training Manual
  • Crop Journal / Diary (coordinated with M&E framework and field assessment)



Drought resistant and indigenous crop varieties

Individual farmers, cooperatives, SACCOs can customize their backpacks according to the best crops for their region's climate and market. Seeds varieites range from cereals, local beans, green leafy vegetables, potato and cash, food crops like tomatoes, fine "french" beans, sugar snaps, water melon, passion fruit and more. Each crop variety has been specially selected for its hardiness and drought resistance. Africa's climate requires the best quality, certified seed varieties.

Backpack Farms corn towers over the rest
Backpack Farms corn towers over the rest


Safe and effective application of agricultural inputs

This essential tool is included in the Backpack Farm to help farmers apply crop protection agriculture inputs. Most smallholder farmers in Africa currently mix chemicals in buckets and apply them with a ladle. Using the sprayer helps farmers to avoid wasting costly inputs and over-exposing themselves to chemical inputs. In addition, when fertilizers and pesticides are getting only where they need to be, they are less likely to enter groundwater or drinking water.


Safety Equipment

Various protective equipment required by Kenyan law:

  • Goggles
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Measuring Cup


 Plant nutrition in combination with eco-friendly chemistry

The backpack also contains fertilizers and reduced-toxicity pesticides that are appropriate for the crops that farmers are choosing to grow. The products are repackaged to the exact amount the farmer needs to use in a growing year, depending on the size of his or her farm. There are also enough inputs in the backpack to support the farmer raising a break crop. These plants are raised between growing cycles and are often food staples such as cabbage, kale or local beans. Such cyclical planting helps farmer to increases their food security and income generation.

The pesticides included in The Backpack Farm are all much less toxic than standard chemical agents. Through biological methods and light use of chemicals, they prevent fungus, mildew and insect attacks on crops.
The Backpack Farm fertilizers are commercially-proven biological and botanical supplements. They increase crop yields and (in combination with other backpack items) make sure crop yields are sustainable through rainy seasons and drought. Many commonly-used fertilizers and pesticides help farmers grow a few good seasons of crops, but hurt the quality of the soil in the long run and pollute groundwater, streams, rivers and lakes. ? Backpack Farm has carefully selected fertilizers that do no harm to the quality of the soil or water. Our program is 85 percent organic and eco-friendly so we reduce the negative impact on water reserves, the ecosystems they support and the people who rely on them.


Optional water tank

Drip irrigation has been used by commercial flower farmers for decades. It's a effective method of getting water to the roots of crops, without losing it in broad sprinkler systems, runoff or evaporation. Currently, most small scale farmers in Africa have no irrigation system or use sprinkler systems that waste vast quantities of water. Thanks to a partnership with John Deere Water Technologies, The Backpack Farm includes customized drip irrigation kits in each backpack. Drip irrigation requires no electricity to run. It works in both flat and slightly sloped growing areas. Perhaps most importantly, because the water is fed directly to the soil around plant roots, farmers need to apply less water to their crops. This makes it easier for farmers to ensure that their crops are watered even in dry seasons. It gives farmers access to the most cutting edge technology on a small scale, without making a commercial investment.


The farm journal enables farmers to keep notes on successes and challenges, as they learn what works best on their piece of land. If the farmers are supported by a UN or non-governmental organization's project, it is also an essential tool in monitoring farmers' progress and helping to build their capacity. Program managers from non-governmental teams or commercial farm managers building out-grower schemes may not work with farmers on a daily basis. The journal gives farmers a communication tool. They can write questions and notes or, if illiterate, draw pictures to document their progress.

Training Manuals

The "Hut" Training Meeting
The "Hut" Training Meeting
Training manuals are one of the ways The Backpack Farm helps small landholder farmers to become better farmers and better business people. We offer a wide range of manuals and training programs to help farmers learn how best to use the tools in the backpack. The manuals and programs also teach farmers about sustainable agricultural techniques such as crop rotation, soil preparation, and effective harvesting and storage. They also help farmers to develop new ways of selling their surplus crops at market, so that they can increase their cash income.