by Ken Mellish
A Farmers Helping Farmers project is helping five women’s groups in the Nkando and Kamuketha area of Kenya to establish a small irrigated farm.
The work is part of an ongoing Global Affairs Canada funded project called More Food, Better Food: Empowering Women Farmers in Kenya.
The women's groups leased two parcels of land totalling 5 acres. They were provided with drip irrigation lines and water storage tanks for both fields. This area had received very little rainfall for the last several years but the soil is very fertile. The area has recently been serviced by the Buuri line, from high on Mount Kenya. This water was available for irrigation as long as the groups were members of the water program.
Water was not continuous so the water storage tanks were critical for continuous water supply. Farmers Helping Farmers board member, Lori Robinson, funded the water tanks.
The project supplied the inputs for first crop, and then they were on their own to continue financing the crops.
Irrigation allows them to crop continually, and not be dependent on rainfall, and to have crop to sell when there is no rain fed crop on the market.
The first crop, which was onions, was planted about a year ago and harvested when we were in Kenya
last January. This profitable crop was sold, and the plots planted with beans for dry beans. The area received almost too much rain for a short period and the beans received too much water but they still got a reasonable crop. Some of these were divided among the members for food, some were sold for cash to replant, and some were saved for seed.
The third crop is potatoes, which are reaching maturity. Again, they paid for the inputs from the profits from previous crops. FHF staff horticulturist, Steven Mwenda, provides them with information on how to best care for the crops. The potatoes should come to market when there are few other potatoes being marketed in the area.
The women's groups have some other projects planned with the crop money. Already, they have purchased some improved chickens for egg production. The FHF Poultry Technician, Eric Munene, advised them how to care for their birds. They are planning to buy each member a dairy goat with the profits from the potatoes.
This is how development should work. We provide some support to get started, and then our
partners, with training, continue to grow and support their families.