For years, farmers from Sireet area of Nandi Hills in Uasin Gishu County had relied on tea as their main source of livelihood.
However, this changed in 2004 after the farmers experienced long dry spells, short and unpredictable rain patterns that badly affected tea production as well as their income and livelihoods.
It was at this time that they started training and sensitisation on climate adaptation and good agricultural practices, courtesy of Fairtrade Africa (FTA), that their fortunes started to change.
Farmers Luke Metto and Paul Kimutai Tirop who are in a tea cooperative and members of Fairtrade laud the environment conservation training initiative.
“I had for a long time relied on proceeds from tea. But after training in climate change adaptation, l ventured into integrated farming and now keep livestock and grow a wide variety of crops,” said Metto who also keeps dairy cows, rabbits, beehives and poultry.
On his part, Tirop has remained a tea farmer but now also keeps beehives, sheep and grows nappier grass and maize. Because he does not have enough land, he has put dairy cows under zero grazing.
Farmers have also been advised to plant trees and preserve water catchment areas.
Today, every farmer has small portion of trees in his or her farm.
Further, both Tirop and Metto have installed biogas in their homes which they use in cooking and lighting. “Since installing this biogas plant, l no longer use firewood for cooking. This has reduced my reliance on tree cutting and other vegetation for firewood,” Tirop says.
Tirop, who has a sloppy farm, has since dug channels and terraces across to help check the flow of water, which in turn reduces soil erosion.
According to FTA Executive Director Nyagoy Nyong’o, their work with farmers is not just to offer them better livelihoods but also to preserve the environment.
They, therefore, advocate for the use of and also provide disease resistant seeds that reduce the need to use chemicals and pesticides on the farm.
“We limit use of agrochemicals and prohibit use of banned pesticides. All our farmers are required to adopt measures that will conserve local water, take care of the soil and handle waste management well,” Nyagoy says.