Some farmers in parts of Kilifi expect bumper harvest while other residents are facing starvation.
The farmers from Magharini Sub-county said they stopped depending on rain-fed agriculture and embraced irrigation.
Ironically, the sub-county is also one of those hardest hit by drought.
Renson Kambi is expecting to harvest maize, tomatoes and onions from his 80 acres at Gandini village. “I use the new seeds variety, which is expensive, but I get more yields. We cannot beg for food year in year out. We must embrace irrigation,” he said, adding that the era of depending on rain-fed agriculture was over since climate change had made weather patterns unpredictable.
Sanita Yongo said he was now harvesting more yields as compared to the previous years when he depended on rainfall.
“The county government and the Kenya Red Cross introduced us to irrigation farming, and we have never regretted it. We no longer need rain, but enough water to plant all year round,” he said. The only challenge the farmers face is the high fuel costs. The farmers use generators to pump water from River Sabaki.
“If the government could shoulder pumping costs, we can save money. Our challenge is the cost of fuel,” he said. Daniel Kaingu, another farmer, said the main challenge was the distance between the river and the farms.
He called on the county government, the national government and well-wishers to assist them by drilling boreholes with solar-driven systems that will pump water to raised reservoirs to irrigate their farms.
The chief officer of the Department of Agriculture and Livestock Development Victor Nzai said the county government was investing in water pans and dams to increase water storage and harvesting.
Nzai said the department had all the equipment and would rely on River Sabaki to make Kilifi food sufficient. “We have different varieties of vegetables, like Amaranth, tomatoes and onions, which are doing very well. I call for total cooperation from all the stakeholders for this to be successful,” he said.