ElectricAid Greenhouses / Drip Irrigation Project
Development Pamoja have for a long time felt that farming practices in Mogotio need to be challenged in order to increase food security. Mogotio is a semi-arid area directly on the equator where the main obstacle to successful farming is lack of rain. Crop failure is a huge problem in the area and results in not only economic ruin for the families involved, but real hunger.
Thanks to the generous funding of Electric Aid, Development Pamoja have developed a farm to showcase drip irrigation and greenhouse technologies in order to increase productivity and food security, particularly during periods of drought.
Our farm includes 2 greenhouses and a pond to harvest the rainwater for irrigation. The use of drip irrigation in the greenhouses allows fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicum (green peppers) cucumber, water melon and butternut squash to be grown. The benefits of using greenhouses and drip irrigation to grow vegetables are as follows:
- Crops mature faster (e.g. tomatoes: 2 instead of 3 months)
- Produce has a longer shelf life (e.g.tomatoes: 21 instead of 14 days)
- Minimal use of pesticides and herbicides, resulting in lower production costs
- Fewer weeds mean a decreased labour cost
- Vegetables and fruits can be produced all year round
- Efficient use of precious water
On the remainder of the farm Development Pamoja are growing staple food such as maize and beans. As drip irrigation uses minimal amounts of water, the excess water collected in the pond can be used to irrigate the rest of the farm to grow staple crops. Around the perimeter we have fruit trees which not only show our commitment to tackling the huge problem that deforestation has become, but also serve to fence off the farm.
We have already had very successful harvests from our farm and are selling produce locally. As well as providing farm workers with an income, our farm has proved to be an invaluable source of produce for local shop and stall owners. These small businesses (some of whom we helped get started) have increased their profits by buying from us, having removed the usual middle-man.
The aim for this project was to not only provide participants with an income, but primarily to serve as an example to other farmers in the area. In this respect the project has been a resounding success. We have had huge interest and support from the local community.
At the request of a local women's group (Bellion Women's Group), we have funded and set up a similar farm with pond, greenhouse and drip irrigation system. Our techniques have also been adopted by individuals; eight local farmers have installed ponds to harvest rainwater for irrigation.
We hope that the positive outcomes of this farm will continue to inspire local farmers to improve their farming techniques. We will endeavour to provide micro finance loans and training to any individuals and self-help groups that show such interest.
In November 2013 we held a Training Day at Development Pamoja's farm on the use of low cost drip irrigation kits. The training was a great success and was attended by 45 local farmers. Kits costing 750 shillings each (approx. €6.50) were available for purchase and over 30 kits were purchased, which was a great achievement. And impressively, nobody asked for a free kit, something which usually happens a lot according to the instructor.
Unfortunately Kenya suffered from severe drought conditions in 2014 which resulted in widespread crop failure in the area. While our harvest was not as plentiful as it would have been under normal conditions, we nonetheless fared much better than our neighbours who do not have ponds. Therefore, this drought served to strengthen the growing belief in the area that our innovative farming techniques are the way forward and will ensure a more stable farming environment in the future.