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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Thigio farmers strives to maximize their farm produce

By Bob Aston
In October 2012, the farmers of Thigio Village in Ng’arua Division, Laikipia County decided to form Kilimo Bora Self Help Group with an intention to improve their livelihoods through farming.
The group farms maize, sweet potatoes, cabbages, kales, spinach and tomatoes. They have also established demo plots where they try different varieties of crops and they work hard to improve the yields.
The group is comprised of 17 members, ten male and seven female. Most members are between 30-40 years.
some group members being trained about compost manure

The group is lucky to access water in abundance as they live near Thigio River. They were initially planning to use drip irrigating but the high cost discouraged them. They eventually settled on basin irrigation. They say basin irrigation uses a lot of water but that does not pose a problem for them as water is available in large quantity at the river.
The group started after attending training on dairy farming. During the training one of those present muted the idea of forming a group. They decided to form a group after that.
Sustainable Agriculture Community Development Programme (SACDEPs) Regional Project Co-coordinator, Andrew Munguti says that they have already spent more than two (2) million Kenya shillings on different investments in the group like trainings on Biogas, tanks, goat milk, making of compost and plant medicines.
“We came here because it was specifically covering Ng’arua and Laikipia. We wanted to cover a vast area,” said Munguti.
“We are also involved in capacity building on issues of leadership and management of various projects that we have partnered with farmers,” added Munguti.
Members tending to their farm
The group says that training from SACDEP has helped them to reduce production cost. They can now make their own compost which ensures that land remains fertile.
‘‘We decided to start a group to sustain members as productivity of maize has been decreasing in this area. We also thought that it is prudent to diversify as most farmers in this area plant maize,” said Francis Muremi, Kilimo Bora Self Help Group Treasurer.
Currently members are getting three (3) litres of milk per day from their goats. The group now intends to ensure that they raise funds to enable each member to have his/her own biogas and water tank.
“We never thought that goats could produce such a large amount of milk. We have also completely eliminated use of fertilizers in our farms. We are now capable of making our own compost and also plant medicine,” said Francis.
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