• Dam and irrigation projects have helped Kwale achieve set farming targets
• Farmers have raised their maize production from five bags to more than 22
Since the devolution government started, Kwale has made progress in achieving food security, says Agriculture executive Joanne Nyamasyo.
She said the county has tried to mitigate the dry land areas like Kinango and Lunga Lunga by establishing multimillion-shilling water dam projects.
The water has promoted irrigation farming and livestock keeping in various parts of the region. Some of the dams are Mwakalanga, Kizingo, Mkanda and Dziweni.
In the commencement of 2019, the county director for the National Drought Management Authority Roman Shera reported that about 70,000 people were affected by hunger. Kinango and Samburu were severely hit.
Nyamasyo said with the interventions of food projects such as Nyalani food security programme, the county projects to have surplus food by 2022.
The sponsorship programme is in the form of revolving funds, whereby the group has to contribute 10 per cent and be given 90 per cent. It is a co-funded project by the World Bank, the private sector the national and county governments.
It is ongoing in all the county's 20 wards, where it is sponsoring some 364 farming groups to help the county meet its target within the given duration.
“For farmers to do well, they need to be financially and skillfully empowered and already, 160 groups out of the total number we sponsor are doing great,” Nyamasyo said.
In a sign of the targeted goals being achieved, harvests have increased. Farmers have raised their maize production from five bags to more than 22.
The county executive said soon enough, the region will forget about relief food and become independent. In August, the Agriculture ministry allocated Sh57 million to boost the Nyalani food security programme.
The PS, Hamadi Boga, said the project will be a game-changer in food production. He said the government is determined to equip and grow Nyalani farming programme to enable it supply food in Kwale and the neighbouring county of Mombasa.
Boga said the funds will assist in restructuring the farm to enhance its production capacity. “We had a lot of complaints from the farmers and with what we are planning, I think it will strengthen the farm efficiency by giving sufficient yields,” he said.
The state is working with Kalro to identify the potential of growing other crops. The PS said Nyalani farmers had first started with a trial that made them realise which type of crops to concentrate on and where to rectify.
“We have what we call suitability maps. By specialising, you do it best, and that’s why we are trying to see what can do best with fewer effects,” the PS said, adding that such expertise would help improve food security.
The skills include the appropriate arrangement of crops, planting seasons and how to improve fertility using different fertilisers.
The state is seeking market so farmers can produce in bulk food that has a high demand. It also wants farmers to be educated on marketing. The PS said they want to create processing industries in future to tap the multi-agribusiness sector.
“For maximum profit, we have to take advantage of every possible opportunity, meaning we should not just depend on taking our tomatoes to the market but process it to improve the value chain,” he said.
Kalro research deputy director Filister Makini said they are working day and night to find out the suitable variety of crops that can resist diseases effectively.
“We conduct analysis for soil fertility, crop breeding and biotechnology, and share the knowledge with our farmers to enhance productivity,” she said.
She said the country at large has not become food secure, hence the need to stir up agricultural activities at the county level.
Makini said with good agricultural practices, not only the Nyalani people but also countrywide farmers can get good yields, building food security in the process.
She said Kalro is investigating other crops, such as coconuts, citrus fruits and cashew nuts, to see if they can speedily be revived.
Edited by T Jalio