Farmers reap from new technology
By Ayoki Onyango
Farmers in Arid and Semi Arid Lands (Asals) are reaping from new technology and research.
The research on trees, crops and livestock by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) and National Agriculture and Livestock Extension Programme (Nalep) is bearing fruits in Kenya’s drylands.
In Kitui, mango farmer Joseph Kivelenge is among the farmers Kefri and Nalep officials trained on how to grow mango through grafting.
Kefri provided first 20 seedlings of grafted mango seedlings free. Kivelenge now has 200 mango trees.
"Each tree produces between 500 to 700 fruits. This produces 140,000 mangoes and with each fruit selling at Sh15, I make good money," explains Kivelenge.
Kivelenge and other farmers formed a co-operative society and started a processing factory that now manufactures mango juice.
"When we realised brokers were coming to buy our fruits at throwaway prices, we decided to form Chaluni Horticulture Farmers Society to negotiate mango prices as a group," says Kivelenge.
Joseph Nzau, also a mango farmer is happy as he now exports mangoes direct to Europe — without brokers exploiting him.
Farmer Kaunda Kivungi of Songea, Mtito Andei in Kibwezi has seven acres of Jatropha Curcas plantation.
He says he sells one kilo of Jatropha seeds at Sh500, enabling him to enjoy farming.
In Isiolo, Garbatula, Laisamis and Samburu, Kefri/Nalep is promoting the growing of acacia trees for gum and water harvesting techniques as well as livestock farming.
In Marigat, it is giving technical support to farmers to produce Aloe Vera, Prosophis Juliflora (Mathenge tree) and food crops such as sorghum, pigeon peas and cowpeas.
Officials from the two government agencies are advising farmers to space, thin and prune prosophis juliflora to allow other crops to grow.
They use the tree for firewood, charcoal production, timber, bee forage and fodder for goats.
Kefri director Dr Ben Chikamai says a lot of money is needed to offer services to all ASAL areas in Kenya, which cover over 80 per cent of the land.
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