In the Lower Nyando region of western Kenya, the increasing frequency of droughts, floods, unpredictable rainfall and temperature variations are affecting farmers and their food security - hard.
A total of 1039 farmers in this area are therefore testing a number of promising climate-proofing activities that can increase their resilience and ability to adapt.
Nyando has a mixed rain fed crop-livestock subsistence farming system. A baseline household survey from 2011 revealed that up to 17% of households are not able to meet their food needs for 3-4 months in a year. These numbers call for a substantial change in farming practices and services!
A few farmers are taking the lead
In June, innovative farmers got the chance to show off their activities to their neighbours. This 'learning event', gave more than 1.000 farmers the experience to learn about new farming practices - happening in real time. They visited 14 farmers in the area. Among them where Hellen Were, William Sang and Maren Oburu.
Hellen, a smallholder farmer in the area, is keeping indigenous chickens at her homestead in Kamwana Village, and earns an income from selling them in the local market. She also keeps Dorper sheep at her homestead that tolerates heat much better, in combination with Gala goats that mature much faster. Growing faster than others also mean that Hellen can get a better price for her Gala goats on the market. One of her goats recently kidded and is therefore providing Helen with about 1.5 litres of milk a day.
“I use the milk to provide nutritious meals for my family", she told her neigbours.
Hellen has constructed a 'water pan', in her homestead to provide water for her kitchen garden. Her ambition is to continue improving things on her farm that she learns from extension agents and CCAFS partner. In the end, she hopes this will lead to enhanced productivity in her fields and a stable income.
In Tabet B Village, 5 kilometres from Hellen’s farm, William has embraced climate-smart technologies on his 5-acre piece of land.
He has a pan, capable of holding water for 6 months of the year for domestic and agricultural use. The water is collected from rooftops to avoid siltation. He has installed a drip filtration kit to irrigate his kitchen garden as well.
To generate a little extra income, indigenous chicken are reared on the farm from which William get a good price at the nearby local market. He is lucky to have a market just a few meters away, as this is sometimes a key issue for farmers - no access to markets so they can sell their goods.
William are doing all of these activities, as he realises that he cannot depend on rain fed agriculture any longer. Not in this local climate, which is not like it used to be. Rains don't come when they are supposed to, and when the do come, they fall harder than before sometimes washing away crops. He is adamant to learn additional climate-smart tricks, so he can further improve his climate resilience.
“I have hope for the future food security of my village and urge my fellow farmers to diversify crop and livestock enterprises in increase their income,” he said during the event.
Maren is a proactive farmer from Kamula Village. She is managing her land well, trying to conserve soil to improve its fertility.
In 2005, Maren took over a tree nursery started by her late husband. The thriving nursery offers Casuarina, Grevillea, Markhamia lutea, and Gliricidia sepium species. She plants the trees on her farm, and earns an income by selling seedlings. Once Maren sold over 5000 seedlings to a local organization, earning 50,000 Kenya Shillings (USD 595).
“Proceeds peak during the rainy season, when most community members take advantage of the rains to plant trees, she explained to the visitors.”
Maren's main challenge right now is accessing good, quality seed for her nursery that will stand the test of time under a variable climate.
In a feedback session, visiting farmer Esther Omuse said:
“I am impressed by our neighbours, who are gaining a lot by changing their farming practices. Keeping local indigenous chicken will help me fight poverty."
Women, who have many responsibilities at the homestead, are identifying poultry, in this case 'semi-intensive poultry' as an opportunity to improve their income that is less tedious than other options.
Local government administrators lauded our efforts to empower communities to fight poverty and become climate resilient. Through our partners we are working closely with local innovators to scale-up climate smart agriculture. Peer-to-peer learning is proving an effective way for communities in lower Nyando to establish themselves as Climate-Smart Villages.
We will present our Climate-Smart Village activities in Lower Nyando, Kenya further, at the upcoming Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW). Our side event is being held on 15 July 14:00-17:00 in Committee Hall 2.
The climate-smart activities in lower Nyando are done in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, World Neighbours, Vi Agroforestry, the World Agroforestry Centre and local community based organizations.