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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Matwiku horticulture farmers benefit from an exchange visit

By Joyce Okuta and Bob Aston
Exchange visits, which are also called study tours, have been used for a long time as a way of sharing knowledge between farmers. They have been proven to lead to mutual knowledge increase, due to practical demonstrations and they have also enabled farmers to become more aware of their own skills and capacities.
In order to increase access to knowledge and information amongst farmers in Matwiku area of Githiga Ward, Laikipia County, the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) organized for an exchange visit for three (3) members of Matwiku Horticulture Growers S.H.G on March 13, 2015 to travel to Ilchamus Ward of Marigat Sub County to witness the launch of Nolororo Horticulture Project, which was also an open day to showcase climate smart agriculture and offer farmers an opportunity to interact with county leaders.
ALIN in partnership with Act Change Transform (Act!), with financial support from Department for International Development (DFID) and Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA) is implementing a climate smart agriculture project in Baringo, Laikipia and Kajiado counties with the aim of strengthening communities’ resilience to impacts of climate change while conserving natural resources.
Farmers being shown the Nolororo Horticulture Farm
The project supported Nolororo women group to establish a drip irrigation system for horticultural production. The group members have been taught about plant protection, harvesting, value addition and marketing. They are now using drip irrigation technology to produce nutritious food.
The objectives of the exchange visit included; to expose the farmers from Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self help group to the activities done by Nolororo women group, to allow the farmers to exchange experiences and plan for the future use of the practices they observe and to assist farmers to gain confidence with what they are doing in the project so that they can explain and teach others.
Mr. Peter Gicheru, Secretary Matwiku Horticulture Growers self help group noted that the exchange visit had proved to be an enriching experience as he had managed to learn a lot from Nolororo women group.
“The opportunity that ALIN provided for us has enabled us to learn better farming methods and crops that we can cultivate in our own project. I realized that farmers in Ilchamus ward are lucky as the climatic condition is ideal for water melon and tomatoes and they take a shorter duration to mature unlike Matwiku,” said Mr. Gicheru.
Farmers being shown the project source of water
Gicheru said that he is now planning to start farming in Ilchamus ward as cost of production is slightly lower there compared to Matwiku and the returns are also better. He added that horticultural crops can do well using drip irrigation and encouraged farmers to adopt the technology to increase their income.
The Nolororo women group activities focus on practicing Climate Smart Agriculture. This is agriculture aimed at reducing emissions at the farm level, conserving natural resources like soils and water while increasing nutritious food production at household level at the same time increasing family incomes.
On her part, Mrs. Lucy Mumbi a member of Matwiku Horticulture Growers self help group shared farming experiences with members of Nolororo women group. She noted that unlike Nolororo women group her group is composed of more men than women.
“Human-wildlife conflict is common in Matwiku area and we rely on men to offer security during such times. Nolororo women group is lucky since there is a steady supply of water from river molo,” said Mrs. Mumbi.
She thanked ALIN for the opportunity to visit the group and felt motivated to work hard and be more open minded when it comes to new technologies and farming methods.
ALIN has been involved in knowledge sharing for more than 22 years now, using various platforms that include the use of video documentations, exchange visits, open learning days and articles aimed at farmers and pastoralists. These experiences have helped farmers to access knowledge and information, which have helped to empower many farmers in arid areas.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ALIN launches Nolororo Horticulture project

By Joyce Okuta
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) on March 13, 2015 launched Nolororo Horticulture project in Ilchamus ward in Marigat Sub County.  ALIN in partnership with Act Change Transform (Act!), with financial support from Department for International Development (DFID) and Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA) is implementing a climate smart agriculture project in Baringo County with the aim of strengthening communities’ resilience to impacts of climate change while conserving natural resources.
The launch was attended by Marigat Sub County Administrator, Ilchamus ward Member of County Assembly (MCA), Ilchamus ward administrator, Sub-county Agriculture Officer, Environment and Natural Resources officers, Agriculture Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP), ALIN project manager and Matwiku Horticulture Growers self help group.
Guests following proceedings during the launch
The project supported Nolororo women group to establish a drip irrigation system for horticultural production. The group members have been taught about plant protection, harvesting, value addition and marketing. They are now using drip irrigation technology to produce nutritious food.
Among the exhibitors included; Nolororo women group, Kerio valley development Authority (KVDA), Kapkuikui Self Help Group, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries development, National Irrigation Board (NIB) and Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Speaking while launching the project, Mr. William Chelal, Marigat Sub-county Administrator lauded the efforts made by ALIN and other organization in uplifting the livelihood of farmers. He said that the field day was a wakeup call for the people of Baringo County to work hard in order to be empowered.
“It is a high time for the farmers to adopt appropriate technologies to ensure sufficient food production. Farmers should join organized groups in order to tap the vast opportunities available in the county,” said Mr. Chelal.
Hon. Wesley Kakimon, Ilchamus ward MCA said that he is ready to support Climate Smart Agriculture Initiatives in the area, since the initial cost for installing the drip kit is affordable and the county can support such initiatives.
He added that the community should embrace such technologies to avert poverty. He encouraged members of Nolororo women group to train other groups about the technology.
Guests being shown around the farm
Mr. Levis Saning’o, Ilchamus ward Administrator noted that the project has eased the work of Nolororo Women group as they are now able to get time to engage in other development activities in the community. He noted that previously the group used to spend close to 8 hours irrigating their farm and this used to be expensive as they had to hire labour.
On his part, Mr. Noah Lusaka, ALIN Project Manager thanked the county government for the cooperation given throughout the project implementation. He pointed out the dissemination done on Sauti ya Mwananchi radio and Standard Newspaper as an indication that the work done by Nolororo women group is known.
”The group has realized a drastic reduction in use of fuel for pumping water. This has reduced emissions and also reduced time spent irrigating the farm. This has also helped to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as increasing food production,” said Mr. Lusaka.
The objective of the event was to demonstrate to communities and stakeholders the various opportunities in food production using minimal water resources and appropriate technologies as an adaptation strategy to climate change.
The Nolororo women group activities focus on practicing Climate Smart Agriculture. This is agriculture aimed at reducing emissions at the farm level, conserving natural resources like soils and water while increasing nutritious food production at household level at the same time increasing family incomes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Solar power drip Irrigation system installed in Marigat sub-county

By Joyce Okuta

Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) in collaboration with Sun Culture Company has installed solar powered drip irrigation system funded by ACT to promote climate smart agriculture initiative in Baringo County.
The unique project is implemented by Nolororo Women group, they availed one acre piece of land for demonstration and are planning to plant tomatoes and onions.
 The group began as a merry-go-round with only three members and later attracted 15 more members with a common goal of uplifting their living standards. The group was registered with social services in 2006.
They started small initiatives like buying kitchen items for each group member from their monthly contribution of KSH 50.The group members thought of increasing their shares by contributing KSH 500 each month and later used the money to buy calves and sold them when mature at the Marigat Auction yard.
In 2007 each member contributed one goat; they also realized that their savings had increased to KSH 70, 000; they contributed KSH 1000 per member decided to buy a piece of land where they built two rentals at the local shopping centre.
“We began farming as a group in 2007, we planted maize on one acre piece of land and earned KSH 26,000, the second season was better because we increased acreage and got KSH 53,000,” Said Mrs. Alice Sauroki, the group’s Chairlady.
She describes climate smart agriculture project by use of solar energy as God given since they are the first group to implement it in the entire Baringo County.
She added that, they feel they have owned the project because members contributed money for fencing one acre piece of land which costs a total of KSH 130,000; they also catered for the cost buying seeds, ploughing and hiring casuals to dig a reservoir.

Beatrice Lerumbe, one of the oldest members of the group said that she is proud of ALIN for the project because women have many responsibilities at home and have been using most of their time to irrigate their farms.
“We spend up to six hours to irrigate only one acre, the cost of buying fuel for pumping water is expensive, this project will see many farmers especially women get time to engage in development activities since it takes less time to irrigate.” Reiterated Beatrice
“I have understood how the solar irrigation system works, I can fix the pipes and operate the system,” Said Maria Lemalo, a group member.
Mr. Kioko from Sunculture  company, adviced the group to ensure security of the equipment and enough spacing while planting to get more yields.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Together for peace

By Elijah Ruto

Forty pastors from Baringo County gathered together on 22nd August 2014 at Sun city Hotel Marigat, in search of ways of achieving lasting peace amongst warring communities caused by cattle rustling.