Food security is one of the four key plans of the government aimed at ensuring every citizen has sufficient, affordable and nutritious food.
The situation can only exist when all people, at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy living.
Mosiro Ward, is one of the 30 wards in Narok County with a history of numerous cases of starvation, especially during dry spell when hundreds of livestock die and people migrate to other areas to look for water and grass.
However, things are slowly changing, thanks to the government in conjunction with African Development Bank (ADB) for funding 1,200 acres of irrigation land to the tune of Sh170 Million to benefit the locals.
The irrigation scheme that draws water from Ewaso Nyiro River and launched in the year 2013, did not only come as a blessing to the locals but the entire nation as numerous vegetables grown in the area are consumed countrywide.
Ms. Evalyne Kuret, a resident and a farmer at the scheme said before the project was established her children did not have enough food and were forced to spend many nights without food.
“The only food we knew was ‘ugali’ and milk, but during dry seasons when the livestock had to be taken to other places because of lack of grass and water, we would only boil the dry maize and feed our children with it,” she recalled.
Ms. Kuret hailed the project, saying she owns a two acre piece of land that she cultivates vegetables and maize to feed her family and the rest she sells 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 the money she gets from her farming, Ms. Kuret purchased 20 broiler hens hence sells eggs to the locals to boost her income.
Samson Katoo, who owns a five acre piece of land in the scheme also could not hide his joy as he described the benefits of the project.
Katoo said he began farming tomatoes and cabbage at the Scheme in the year 2014 and has continually recorded profits worth millions of shillings.
“I use approximately Sh.120, 000 per acre of tomatoes to buy inputs and labour. During good seasons one acre can give me a return of approximately 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 past where they would only afford one unbalanced meal in a day.
“In addition, I have bought a 50 by 100 ft. plot in Ntulele Market using the income I get from farming and I am planning to build rental houses,” said Katoo.
Mosiro area Assistant Chief, 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 chicken, goat and sheep theft which has tremendously reduced after the irrigation project came into live,” he said.
Meikasi who plants water melons and butternuts at the 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 an electric wire so as to scare off the wild animals.
The Chief added that during prolonged dry spell, the levels of the water is low hence not enough for the farms and for the livestock to consume.
During rainy seasons, the farmers also experience challenges as their farms are washed by the flash floods leaving them to incur huge losses.
In a bid to boost the production at the scheme, Narok Governor, Samuel Tunai announced that he County Government will expand the irrigation scheme to ensure every family in the area get at least 20 acres of 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 to lower their production cost.
The County Government has since set Sh.15 million to fence the scheme in a bid to protect the crops from wild animals and theft.
Other crops planted at the scheme include high value horticulture crops such as French beans, potatoes, beans, bulb onions, bananas, watermelons, capsicum among others.
By Ann Salaton