Farmers from ASAL regions reap big from Sh9.2b project
A regional $60 million (Sh9.2 billion) project meant to escalate the implementation of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies has seen farmers in semi-arid regions in Kenya record significant increase in food production and income levels.
The project initiated in 2021 by the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) exposed smallholder women farmers and youth to modern agriculture technologies to benefit from regular food production mainly vegetables.
Researchers from the association and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) are currently training smallholder women farmers in the said regions to enhance their utilisation of CSA technologies that are critical to adapting to climate change effects including El Nino rains.
Julian Barungi (pictured), ASARECA programme officer in charge of policy said the project has so far exposed the farmers adoption and implementation of friendly CSA skills to produce more food.
“Over and above being implemented in counties of Machakos, Makueni and Kitui, the project is also being undertaken in Zambia, Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal and Ghana. For farmers to fully benefit the programme will be extended for another two years,” she said during the training session in Machakos County.
With funding from the World Bank, Barungi stated the Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa project is jointly being implemented by the association and Kalro among others.
Barungi said ASARECA’s focus has been to enhance the capacity of smallholder women farmers in application of selected CSA technologies.
Some of the CSA technologies farmers have benefited from include cone gardens for vegetable production and space maximisation and shade nets for crop protection and moisture optimisation.
Kwena Kizito, a soil scientist with Kalro’s Katumani Centre, noted that cone gardens are particularly important for the farmers because they address challenges of water logging during heavy rains.
He said the shade nets prevent crop destruction resulting from the heavy rains and strong wind while the biopesticides are an affordable solution to managing pests and diseases whose incidences increase during the rainy season.
“Their land sizes are becoming smaller. Yet the demand for vegetables is increasing. So vertically, horizontally, they may not have a lot of land to produce a lot of vegetables. But there is a lot of space in the air, which is what the corn gardens are taking advantage of, so that they are able,” stated Kizito.