Kipsing Centre Group’s site: Rehabilitation of pasture lands through adoption of zai-pits as water harvesting techonology ; Photo credit - Stephen Mureithi
The University of Nairobi (UoN), African Drylands Institute for Sustainability (ADIS) is one of the implementing partners for the USAID funded project; Accelerated Value Chain Development-Livestock Component (AVCD-LC). The project is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Its overall purpose is to increase the income of 60,000 pastoral households through a 50% increase in the sale of livestock by 2018. The target area of operation is the 5 counties in the resilience Zone of Influence (ZOI) that is Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo and Turkana. Under the project, ADIS is providing technical expertise on rangeland management and commercial pasture and fodder production.
Under the support of this project, trainings on pasture and fodder production including practical demonstration on grass seed planting carried out in Kipsing and Ol Donyiro in Isiolo County from 19 to 21st October, 2016. The training was conducted by Dr. Stephen Mureithi , A lecture at Department of Land Resource and Agricultural Technology (LARMAT). He was assisted by post graduate student Ms Hannah Nyakio in the same department. More seeds will be to the groups for planting during the short rains of October, November and December (OND) 2016.
Farmers experience to pasture production
He started off with beans, got a few Kenya shillings and decided to reinvest the income to expand his acreage. A man with a definite purpose defines him best. He has learnt over time to make use of the resources he has and are available to him, he told the other community members. Mr Njoroge Lempoe, 80 years old has his land tilled, prepared and ready to plant grass after personal observation and training on pasture production.
The Community members gathered in his farm for training that he learnt about planting grass from other groups in the village that are currently planting grass for livestock consumption and commercial use. His land is located in Ol Donyiro Centre. The area is surrounded by Mlima Chui and Isiolo North both characterized by hot and dry climate, highly degraded soils and dry rivers coupled to many deep sheer sides gullies and undulating land.
He has “continually been farming to produce beans and maize whose production has decreased with years as a result of insufficient moisture” he says. “Now the unpredictable climatic conditions have worsened the situation and hence willingness to adopt and grow grass as a crop” Mr. Njoroge Lempoe added. However, his determination to see his family live favorably drives him into planting of grasses and has prepared the land
Mr. Kampeku Lesangai (left) showing the grass seeds the Kawalash Group harvested and stored to Dr. Stephen Mureithi (right). Photo credit - Hannah Nyakio
Another farmer, Mr. Kampeku Lesangai, the chairman of Kawalash Farm Group, and the only man amidst 90 women, proudly explained benefits of growing grass the group and individuals. The group prepared 50 acres of land through Food for Asset (FFA) program and has been provided with grass seeds by the University of Nairobi through IGAD funded project entitled “building resilience of livestock based production systems”. They yield harvested was 45 hay bales and later sold at KES 500. Additionally; the group has approximately 80kg of grass seeds ready for sale.
Fodder production for livestock use and commercial purposes that Dr. Stephen Mureithi of (UoN - ADIS) has been preaching and preached on during the Pasture Week in Isiolo is paying off. Pasture Week aimed at sensitizing the community on fodder production, training the community on land preparation, variety selection and grass seeds planting and reaching out to more new farmers. The testimonials of other farmers tricked their colleagues to embrace adoption of grass as a crop for fodder production. He trained on land preparation, seed variety selection and demonstrated on seed plantation. His efforts were further emphasized by Mr. Kirimi and Mr. Halkano Hache (Livestock Department - Isiolo) on the benefits of fodder production, business and market for both fodder and livestock.
Other stakeholders in the training were National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), represented by Mr. Abdihakim Kassim. The NDMA has been working with World Food Programme (WFP) and Action Aid (AA) in preparing the land for grass planting through the FFA programs. In collaboration, the four agencies have jointly mobilized the communities in Isiolo County.
A woman compares photos of before and after intervention of Zai pits as water harvesting technology and grasses in Lenguruma (Isiolo County). Photo credit - Hannah Nyakio