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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Horticulture in arid regions

By Simon Munyeki

sheep and goats drinking water at an earth dam
For decades Communities living in arid regions of east Africa have been facing different challenges from harsh climatic conditions such as long dry seasons and barely do these regions receive reliable rainfall in a year forcing many to walk miles away in search of water for both domestic use as well as for their livestock and move to different places in search of pastures making their day to day hard to adopt to one specific region due to their nomadic lifestyle.

However few years after introduction of devolution of government, drastic changes has been experienced in every corner of the country especially by the nomadic and pastoral communities who have benefitted greatly by water harvesting projects that have been introduced and financed by both the state department of agriculture and the bore holes that have been drilled by county governments .

With little training on how to make good use of the water harvested during the short rain seasons as well as the bore holes, community members have established small scale irrigation farming where they have started growing tomatoes, French beans ,onions ,capsicum and chilies which have greatly improved their economic conditions as compared to when they were used to pastoralism which was faced with many challenges such as cattle rustling and constant attaches by wild animals when herding their sheep and goats in the fields far away from home.

Horticulture has also helped reduce human and wildanimals conflict since majority of the pastoralist community members have reduced the number of animals as compared to when they only relied on animal products and sales to make a living. This has reduced the number of enclosing of private ranches and conservancies in such of pasture and water which was a major cause of human wildlife conflict in these regions.

tomatoes in an irrigated farm
With rehabilitation of earth dams such as Marura, Ndaragueti,Wangwaci and Mutaro in ol moran ward by the national government in conjunction with the county government of laikipia, horticulture farming has increased in ol moran ward and in Laikipia at large creating employment to the community as well as placing ol moran ward among the greatest producers of tomatoes in the county for both local and export markets.

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