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Boon for Laikipia farmers adapting modern farming technologies.

Following perennial drought in Laikipia County that has resulted in food shortage, farmers in Matanya have devised innovative ways to tap runoff water for farming.

The innovation which involves constructing shallow farm ponds of about a meter deep to harvest both runoff and rain water can hold water in the ground for about four months which boost soil moisture and hence ensure farm produce thrive even during dry periods.

The farming technology which is in pilot phase, introduced and supported by Akina foundation, an Indian based organisation that seeks to address climate change challenges, has since seen about 25 farmers in Matanya, Laikipia central embrace the innovation aimed at increasing their productivity.

The organisation is working in collaboration with Egerton University which supplies farmers with drought resistant crops like maize, sorghum, millet, sweet potatoes and Napier grass.

Patrick Ndumia, a farmer and one of the beneficiaries of the technology says that in the past three years, he had not harvested any crops due to drought but after embracing use of farm ponds, he was able to get sufficient harvest last year.

‘’I am happy with this new farming method, there are some changes compared with previous years when we had no farm ponds. It was very dry unlike now where I have plenty of food, thanks to these ponds,” says Ndumia.

He reveals that farm ponds retain water that drips underground to be utilised by the crops during dry weather.

Muriithi Kihuria, another beneficiary noted that with the farm ponds, he has been able to support his family and urged residents to embrace the technology in a bid to address food insecurity in the county.

‘’After benefiting from this farm pond, I have harvested sufficient food and I applaud the donors for promoting modern farming. My call is to residents to embrace the technology in alleviating hunger,” notes Kihuria.

Another farmer Julia Nyeri also lauded the modern farming method by noting it had helped to alleviate hunger in the community and at the same time appreciated the drought resistant crops they had received from Egerton University.

Akina foundation director Avijit Malik said that the farming technology was ideal in dry areas since it was cheap and affordable to implement in addressing food shortage.

“The challenge farmers experience here is that they don’t get sufficient rainfall and to address that especially during drought season, they only need about 200 cubic meters of water,’’ reveals Malik.

He points out that, after engaging with the farmers in Matanya, they noticed that due to adverse climate change they experienced crop failure which resulted in Akina coming up with the farm ponds system to address the effects of drought.

Malik said that they piloted pond farming in July 2023 and now about 31 ponds have been constructed across Matanya to conserve moisture and boost crop production.

He noted that with sufficient resources, they will be able to support all the farmers in the county and hence appealed to agricultural stakeholders for partnership and funding.

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