•The crops are suitable for cushioning livestock and residents from drought which has hit most areas in Garbatulla and Merti subcounties.
•The development partners like Nawiri and World Food Programme had trained the group members in modern farming and home gardening.
Pastoralists from Isiolo have started changing lifestyles from herding to modern farming to reduce illiteracy and improve food security in homesteads.
The Malka Bisanadi cultural centre started by 20 women, 15 years ago, has improved the lifestyle of its members and reduced illiteracy.
Cultural centre chair Makay Mamo said the group was allocated 10 acres by the defunct Isiolo county council to have its members make a better living from manageable economic activities.
She spoke to the drought monitoring team that had visited the area midweek.
The members introduced hay, pawpaw, oranges and sweet potatoes farming which earned them good money besides enabling their families to have three meals a day.
Mamo said the group harvested 400 bales of hay which fetched Sh200,000 with each bale going for Sh500.
The group leader thanked Caritas Kenya, the development and humanitarian organization of the Catholic Bishops for supporting them grow hay and some drought-resistant crops.
The crops are suitable for cushioning livestock and residents from drought which has hit most areas in Garbatulla and Merti subcounties.
She said development partners like Nawiri and World Food Programme had trained the group members in modern farming and home gardening.
The chair who was loading 400 bales of hay on two lorries for ferrying to Merti and Sericho in Garbatula subcounty said no child from the members had dropped out of school.
She said a weekly merry-go-round was sufficient to take their children back to school without many struggles.
Mamo who was accompanied by group treasurer Asha Ali said her members had adapted to the new farming activities and grew drought-resistant crops by using fuel-driven generators to pump water from feeder furrows to irrigate their farms.
The group was set to give loans to its members to start businesses like buying and selling of animals to Meru instead of grazing them for a long period and later perish due to persistent drought.
WFP Isiolo team coordinator Gilbert Mwambulu said his organization had provided the group with a fish pond which was doing well and would soon earn them more income.
Mwambulu said orange and sweet potatoes are nutritious and could also fetch good money at the local market.
He said the group has introduced other activities by adding men who irrigate farms at night and also chase away the wild animals.
Although the Kenya Wildlife Service has fenced off a large area with an electric fence, still, there were stray animals like monkeys.
The members said they were looking for an outlet for their crops that could give them better prices besides selling their produce to residents as well.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris