Food security is one of the key pillars in the government’s big four agenda that is aimed at ensuring sufficient, affordable and nutritious food.
Mosiro ward in Narok County had registereda history of numerous cases of starvation, especially during droughts when hundreds of livestock die and people migrate to other areas to look for water and grass.
However, the government, in conjunction with African Development Bank (ADB) intends to galvanize this by funding 1200 acres of irrigation land at a tune of Sh. 170 Million to benefit the locals.
Drawing her water from EwasoNyiro River, the scheme launched in 2013 has not only come as a blessing to the residents, but to the entire country as horticultural crops grown through irrigation is consumed country wide.
Evelyne Kuret, a resident and a farmer in the scheme said before the project was established her children did not have adequate food and most of the time the entire family slept on empty stomachs.
“We only ate ‘ugali’ (maize meal) and milk, but during dry seasons when the livestock had to migrate to other places because of lack of grass and water, we would only boil the dry maize and feed our children,” she recalled.
Kuret hailed the project saying she now owns a two acre piece of land that she grows vegetables and maize to feed her family and sells surplus to buy other household goods.
“The project was an eye opener to us as we do not only get food from it but also money. We sell the vegetables to middle men who later sell in other towns,” she said.
Through her earnings Kuret has purchased 20 broiler chickens hence sells eggs to the locals to boost her income.
Samson Katoo, also a farmer on a five acre piece of land in the scheme could not hide his joy as he described the benefits of the project saying that he began farming tomatoes and cabbages continually, recording profits worth millions of shillings from the project.
“I use approximately Sh. 120, 000 per acre of tomatoes to buy inputs and labour. During good seasons one acre gives me upto Sh. 1 Million. The lowest I have ever got from one acre land is Sh. 300, 000,” he said.
Katoo added that his children performance in school has improved as they now eat nutritious food as opposed to earlier times when they would only afford one unbalanced meal in a day.
“In addition, I have bought a 50 by 100 meters plot in Ntulele market using the income I get from farming and I am planning to build rental houses,” said Katoo.
Assistant chief Mosiro Peter Meikasi said crime rates has decreased in the area since the project started five years ago, as people are mostly busy in their farms.
“Before there were numerous cases of petty theft and burglary which has tremendously reduced after the irrigation project,” he said.
Meikasi, who also grows water melons and butternuts at the irrigation scheme said he gets a profit of up to Sh. 300, 000 in one acre per season.
He highlighted that extension officers regularly visit the project to train farmers on the best farming methods.
The chief however pointed out that wild animals and poor road network were the major challenges experienced at the irrigation scheme.
“The project is not fenced and occasionally elephants, baboons, zebras and antelopes come to eat our crops. We incur huge amount of losses as the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has never compensated any farmer for the loss. This has led to many farmers building semi-permanent houses at the project so as to guard their farms,” he said.
He called upon the county government to help in fencing the scheme with electric fence so as to scare the wild animals.
The chief also complained that during rainy seasons, the farmers experience challenges as their farms are swept by the flash floods incurring heavy losses.
In a bid to boost the production at the scheme, Narok Governor Samuel Tunai announced that his government will expand the irrigation scheme to ensure every family allocated at least 20 acres farming land.
Tunai observed that only 400 families were benefiting from the project but promised to increase the size of irrigation land to accommodate more farmers.
“The scheme is aimed at ensuring there is a steady food supply in the area for locals who are predominantly pastoralists and are greatly affected by the effects of drought,” he said.
The governor also promised to give quality subsidized seeds and fertilizers to the farmers at the irrigation scheme to lower their production cost.
The county government has since set Sh. 15 Million to fence the irrigation scheme in a bid to protect the crops from wild animals and theft.
Other crops planted at the scheme include high value horticulture crops like French beans, potatoes, beans, bulb onions, bananas, watermelons, capsicum among others.
By Ann Salaton