Hakima Mohammed, 57, earns a living through tree nursery farming. She owes her successful business venture to the use of a solar water pump, which has reduced the burden and cost of fetching water using jerrycans.
“Before I got the solar pump, I used to work even on Sundays to ensure I have enough water for the tree seedlings. But with the solar pump and a storage tank, I have a day's rest and [time to spend] with my three children,” said the resident of Maseno, Kisumu West subcounty.
She has increased the number of seedlings to 240,000 on her farm, where she has planted 30 tree species, both indigenous and exotic.
“I have no background in forestry, but I learned everything I know about tree seedling from my late husband, who was a forester in Kisumu county," she said during a visit to the farm.
"This business has enabled me to educate my two children up to university level, while the lastborn is in secondary school.”
On a good day, Hakima makes between Sh20,000 and Sh100,000; seedlings goes for Sh10.
“One customers can buy from 2,000 to 10,000 seedlings, especially the indigenous tree species, which are preferred for commercial purposes,” she said.
Oliver Bill Odhiambo, 24, from Miguye village, Rabuor, Kisumu East subcounty, also has a solar water pump which he bought for Sh65,000.
He grows tomatoes on one-and-a half-acres, which he has leased for Sh3,000. “I used to use a diesel water pump to irrigate my crop. [I would spend] Sh2,000 on fuel daily and Sh500 to hire a generator," said the aspiring 2022 MP.
"I have now cut this cost with the solar water pump and I am expecting at least Sh200,000 from the tomato harvest.”
Victor Ndiege from Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund said the petrol pump is labour intensive and a lot water goes to waste, unlike with the solar pump.
“[The] AECF is currently designing a youth fund to address the gap left by ageing farmers so that young people can take up agribusiness," Pauline Mbayah, AECF director of strategy and partnerships, said.
"This way the unending unemployment headache can be addressed.”
The Government has emphasized on the need to shift from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation as a solution to food insecurity. Farmers in Kisumu have heeded this call and are investing in irrigation to get maximum yields.