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Saturday, 28 June 2014

ALIN visit site set for irrigation system

By Bob Aston
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) on June 27, 2014 visited a site at Matwiku village in Ng’arua Division, Laikipia County that they intend to use as a demonstration farm for irrigation. The land which has been set aside for the project by Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group will help the farmers to learn how to use the system as well as its benefits.
ALIN is currently implementing a one year project on climate change on behalf of Act! Change! Transform! (ACT). They are set to work with Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group in promoting SMART agriculture.
Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group is comprised of 21 members, nineteen male and two female. The group has selected tomatoes, cabbages and peas as crops that they will plant using the irrigation system.

Another group member irrigating his farm
The field visit provided an opportunity for ALIN officials to see how the farmers have been irrigating their farms using water from Kariaini dam which is estimated to be 20ft deep.

Mr. Peter Kanyita, a member of Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Group, who was in farm irrigating a quarter of an acre which he has planted onions, narrated to the officials how basin irrigation which they have been using is time consuming. He said a farmer can spend even a whole day irrigating his farm.
He said he usually spends two (2) litres of fuel to irrigate the onions. The amount of fuel used depends with topography of the land. Flat farms like his do not require a lot of fuel for irrigation.
Mr. Kanyita gave an example of connecting PVC pipes as one of the things that consumes a lot of time. The PVC pipes he said are expensive in the long run as they require frequent replacement. Exposure to direct sunlight for a long time also has a harmful effect.
He has been buying the PVC pipes between Ksh 200 to Ksh 300 per metre depending on the quality of the pipe. Some of the farmers he said have now started using Flex hose pipe which is retailing at Ksh 600 per metre. This he said is expensive for most farmers as some require pipes which are more than 40 metres in length.
“We are eagerly awaiting for the irrigation system. As you have seen for yourselves the system that we are using is really time consuming. Connecting and disconnecting the PVC pipes takes a long time,” said Mr. Kanyita.

Mr. Noah Lusaka, Project Manager-ALIN said that ACT project goal is to enhance community resilience to adapt to the impacts of climate change for improved livelihood in Kajiado, Baringo and Laikipia counties.
He added that the project seeks to build the capacities of communities on a range of adaptation practices including water harvesting techniques and use of mobile irrigation technology for increased food production.
The group has decided to start with a three quarter piece of land which is measuring 74 metres by 40 metres.
Irrigation particularly in arid and semi arid areas has been instrumental in boosting the level of agriculture in such areas. Irrigation is expected to lead to increase in food production amongst members of Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group and neighbouring farmers. This will lead to improvement of the livelihood of the members.
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