Like other concerned farmers, Sophia Nyaloo, rarely misses the daily coronavirus updates from the Ministry of Health. To catch the latest, her small mobile phone that doubles as a radio, is always at hand.
Owing to the curfew and partial lockdowns, her life like the rest of farmers has been disrupted and this means less income from farming. But a new food security initiative has offered her and other farmers renewed hope.
Ms Nyaloo is among more than 425 villagers from East, South and Central Kabuoch locations in Ndhiwa in Homa Bay County, who are beneficiaries of the project run by a Non-profit Organisation - Riana Development Network (RDN).
RDN programme manager George Orero says in partnership with a United Kingdom’s development’s agency-Ukaid, they are helping small scale crop and livestock farmers cope during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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“We are building their capacities in wealth creation and food security in a small way. We believe that a family that has more than a chicken, a goat and which embraces commercial farming cannot sleep hungry,” Mr Orero says.
As part of the project, RDN officials distributed free certified maize seeds to farmers and ten chicks to help them start poultry farming.
“We have trained the farmers on livestock farming especially on poultry keeping,” says Orero.
As part of the project, Ms Nyaloo, got Togenberg dairy goats.
“I qualified because I had put up a rearing unit. Locals will now use my unit as a benchmark,” says Nyaloo.
Another project beneficiary, Mr Gabriel Onyango, 28, says he received ten six-weeks-old chicks from RDN.
“We have been trained on how to take care of the poultry, when to vaccinate them and when to call the veterinary officer. I will now quarantine myself over the coronavirus in my compound.”
To ensure sustainability of their projects, the project beneficiaries have formed a Savings and Cooperative Sacco- Mwalande Sacco- to give them loans for their farm projects.
Charles Otieno, the Sacco chairman, said all members of the Riana Development Network were also members of the Sacco.
“When the pandemic hit, most livelihoods were affected, but now there is hope. With these projects, we are busy. We have no time to lament and waste time idling during this time of travel restrictions and curfew,” says Otieno.
A programme officer with the Riana Development Network, Mr Achilles Oyugi says besides farming, they are also sponsoring needy students to pursue education.