FARMING IN THE NORTH

Farmer makes fortune from sorghum in Mandera

Remote village farmer from Mandera earns a living from sorghum, in one of the driest part in Kenya

In Summary

•His advice to pastoralists is for them to venture into farming as drought has always been claiming herds of livestock leaving them poor.

•He says Mandera has huge tracts of arable land and it is time residents changed their lifestyle.

Mohamed Ibrahim, a farmer in Banisa, Mandera County.
Mohamed Ibrahim, a farmer in Banisa, Mandera County.
Image: COURTESY

In Banisa, a remote village in Mandera county, Mohamed Ibrahim has abandoned all other crops to concentrate on farming sorghum, which he says is adapted to the dry and hot northern Kenya climate.

He says: “The hard, small leaves are adapted to maintaining the little irrigation water the crop gets and does well to give a profit”.

Mohamed started with four acres in 2010 and in 2019, the acreage had increased to 40, harvesting as much as 300, 90-kilogramme bags.

 
 

“I look forward to increasing my acreage under sorghum because of its resilience and profitability. Sorghum is in high demand in the local market as it is fed to livestock and flour used for domestic consumption,” he adds.

He recalls in 2018 all the sorghum dried up due to the prolonged drought spell but he did not give up and continued to irrigate the crop in 2019.

The soil does not require any fertiliser nor does sorghum need to be sprayed with insecticides.

"It was fortunate that there was a little rainfall in 2019 that complimented my efforts in irrigating the farm through a donkey drawn cart. This was the time I harvested 300 bags,” says Mohamed.

He adds: "Thanks to God that I have now managed to dig a 1,500-metre square water pan that can store water to be used during dry seasons. The county government and the World Food Programme (WFP) have promised to dig a dam that my seven workers and I will use for irrigation".

 Mohamed now says he has quit being a wholesale trader and concentrated in farming as it is lucrative.

His advice to pastoralists is, they venture into farming as drought has always been claiming herds of livestock leaving them poor.

 
 

He says Mandera has huge tracts of arable land and it is time residents changed their lifestyle.

"I advise our people to venture into farming and desist from perennial dependency on food donations that will make them reliant on donors,” he says.

Mohamed also grows onions, tomatoes, water melons, paw paws, and mangoes that grow on small scale and sell to the local market.

He wishes to venture into growing macadamia nuts in future as he says the crop does well in dry weather and has high profit returns, adding that a kilo of macadamia is sold at Sh300 at local market.