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Home / Smart Harvest

“Why I love dryland farming”

Rachel Ngina (c) in Turkana county.

At first, Rachel Ngina did not want to be associated with farming. However, while in Israel, she fell in love with it.

Today, she is transforming lives transferring dryland farming skills to locals in Turkana County. If she ever goes into farming herself, she says, she would chose dryland farming.

“With dryland farming I am more in charge of what happens. And because I am in charge I would be able to dictate the quality and quantity of what I am producing,” she says.

Crops need water. The belief is therefore that crops grow better – and almost unattended to – in high rainfall areas. This is not entirely false. But it is not true either.

Food crops, she says, require specific amounts of water for the best results.

She says: “For instance, if you are farming water melons, you are supposed to give it water up until it is mature. Afterwards you should cut water supply to induce stress on the plant.

“It is stress that makes the fruit develop a strong sweetness. If it were to rain around this time two things would happen: the fruit would take in the extra water and lose sweetness, and, it may burst from absorbing too much water.”

In wet areas only crops that can withstand too much rain would do well. Other crops will lose quality or become wasted.

To excel in dryland farming, Ngina’s advice is for one to start small. “Experiment on a small piece of land. Then afterwards extrapolate into largescale,” she says.

It is a mistake, she adds, to copy others when doing dryland farming.

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“It is not true that something that grows well in place A will also perform in a similar manner in place B. Kenyans ought to stop this way of doing farming,” she says.

Copying leads to mistakes. Being patient, doing soil tests, and seeking advice from a professional, would be the right thing to do, she says.

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