To cope with the disastrous effects of climate change, pastoralists in Samburu have turned to farming and keeping improved breeds of cattle.
The initiative is spearheaded by the Samburu Pastoralists Livelihood Improvement project which is supported by the government, the European Union and World Vision through the National Drought Management Authority.
John Saitoti Leiyagu started rearing improved chicken four months ago with a capital of Sh3,000, which he used to buy eggs for hatching.
He now sells an improved chicken for Sh1,500 while an indigenous chicken fetches Sh500. He sells eggs for Sh20 each.
“I have seen the benefits since I ventured into chicken rearing and I plan to expand. This will help supplement the little I get from growing of maize and beans which is affected by poor rains,” says Leiyagu.
He however decries the high cost of chicken feeds. A bag of feeds, which only lasts two weeks, costs Sh2,300. He is forced to use leftover food to cut down on costs.
Lekinasia Somboyet, another beneficiary, has improved Boran cows which earn him more money in the market than the indigenous Zebu cows.
“A two to three-month calf fetches Sh15,000 while that of indigenous cows will fetch less than Sh10,000,” says Somboyet.
He has four improved Boran bulls which uses to offer insemination services to his neighbours at a fee of Sh500 per cow.
The father of six also has 180 Galla goats which he sells for between Sh15,000 and Sh18,000. Indigenous East African goats fetch Sh1,200 only.
Somboyet says the Galla goat breed weighs more and produces more milk.
“I get about 12 cups in a day; my family consumes four cups and I sell the remaining eight cups to local hotels and teachers in the area for Sh20 each. I use the proceeds from milk to buy medicine for the goats, pay the herdsman and cater for my family’s needs,” he says.
Joseph Lendorop grows vegetables in his quarter acre piece of land which he started as a hobby but is now doing it as a business.
“I used to water my vegetables manually from the Nkejemu stream but now I have a borehole which I dug using some of the income I got from selling vegetables. I also sold a cow and bought a generator at Sh40,000 and a 5,000-litre tank which cost Sh30,000,” he said, adding that he gets about Sh15,000 a month from selling vegetables.
European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said the project is aimed at improving pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood and enhance food security in the semi-arid Samburu county. “EU funding has enabled excavation of Lariak-Orok water pan in Kisima location in Lorroki division in Samburu central and this is supporting 400 households and about 7,000 livestock. Overall, six water pans have been excavated under the SAPLIP project to facilitate rainwater harvesting and 3,000 households and 25,000 livestock now have access to water,” said Mimica.
According to the World Vision Kenya national director Dickens Thunde, agriculture is the main source of livelihood in Samburu but there is low crop and livestock productivity, poor land use, inefficient markets and lack of value addition of products.
“The project offers proof that an all-inclusive socio-economic system that promotes agricultural growth through increasing productivity in crop and livestock production, improving market access for small holder farmers and promoting community dialogue can develop resilient communities that are able to cope with shocks caused by frequent disasters including the predicted El Nino,” said Thunde.
He added that through the project, there is 24 acres of land and 7,000 acres of pasture under regeneration process through farmer-managed natural resource management.
“Access to market for livestock and crop production is key in development of value chain and the project has helped to link livestock producers and traders in Samburu central with livestock traders in Rumuruti, Nakuru and Nairobi. Two livestock producers have secured contracts to supply traders in Rumuruti with 400 goats a week,” he said.