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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Farming in Kabati

By Peter Kagiri

Kabati is a cosmopolitan area located in Laikipia West District, 70km away from the main town of Nyahururu.  This remote area in the Eastern part of Rift Valley is predominantly occupied by people who entirely rely on farming for their livelihood. Despite the unfavorable climatic conditions in the area, farmers make every effort to produce food. Mixed farming is practiced here. However several challenges have come along the way to inhibit success of these farmers. Despite all, residents here have emerged successful.           

The one category of farmers in Kabati grows fruits. The types of fruits that have been known to do very well in this dry area are pineapples, sugarcane, oranges among other fruit types. This category of farmers is known to be doing well and is even richer than the rest. Compared with the rest, they are well established with progressive economic development. The warm climatic conditions have given them an advantage since their fruit plants do well in such conditions. In this season, it is specifically the pineapple farmers who are beaming with smile.

Photo of pineapple farm
Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) visited one pineapple farmer to get firsthand information on the economic viability of this produce. He explained that he had planted about 1400 seedling in an acre piece of land. About 80%of the total seedling gave him as big-size pineapples which he sold at Ksh 50 each and the rest (20%) at Ksh30 each. This gave him a total of Ksh 62000. He encourages farmers in the area to practice fruit farming, especially pineapple which does very well in the area.        

There is another category of farmers that grow maize. Sincerely, maize farming in this dry area is not the type of crop to depend on. Occasionally farmers may get better harvest but most of the time they get low yields due to short rains. Constant invasion by wildlife has affected farming of maize in Kabati due to its proximity to Laikipia Ranching Company. The poor market prices for maize have effectively sent most farmers to paths of losses. It is expected that there will be a paradigm shift by maize farmers to try other farming activities.                

Livestock keepers are not left behind in this parched land. The animals that are mostly kept here are beef cattle, goats and sheep. However, insecurity has affected this type of farming. Constant raids from the neighboring Pokot occupying Baringo East have made many farmers to keep off from practicing livestock rearing. Unless security is heightened there is probability that most people will shun it for their own safety.

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