Olkiloriti women group in Ildamat, Kajiado Central is a happy lot after harvesting onions grown using the solar-powered drip irrigation system.
Though the area is semi-arid and the residents mostly practice rearing cattle which has since been greatly affected by climate change, the residents are now shifting to climate-smart agriculture with support from the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) financed by the German International Cooperation.
According to ALIN’s Director, James Nguo, climate-smart agriculture has the potential to feed a rapidly growing population even when there is climate change.
“As opposed to just herding cows, it is important to diversify and be able to adopt modern technologies to combat climate change. In this demonstration farm, we have supported the farmers to use the solar-powered drip irrigation system to grow onions which they will sell as a group and later adopt smaller farms at the household level,” said Nguo.
Nguo remarked that climate-smart agriculture will not only boost food security in the country but it will also help farmers in arid and semi-arid areas to realise that they have a lot of potential within where they live.
The solar drip-powered irrigation system pumps water from a dam into the storage tanks and the water will then be used to grow the onions through the drip irrigation system to minimise water wastage.
Linet Ritei, a member of the Olkiloriti women’s group says that onion farming has proved to be beneficial to them compared to milk sales.
“Before ALIN came to train us on smart farming, we relied on selling milk which has been greatly affected by the recurrent droughts. We are thankful that now we can cater for our needs through crop farming even in times of drought,” said Ritei.
Another beneficiary, Alice Nchoe, says that unlike before, they now have kitchen gardens where they plant different vegetables for their household consumption, ensuring a balanced diet and also saving on trips to the market.
The women are asking the Kajiado county government to build them dams to ensure that crop farming through the drip irrigation system continues as it is only possible if there is enough water.
ALIN has currently set up three climate resilience demonstration farms in Kajiado County and hopes that at least 360 farmers can establish kitchen gardens using the same technology.
By Sammy Rayiani and Diana Meneto