Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Pastoralists in
northern Kenya are slowly shedding off livestock rearing into
crop farming following recurrent droughts that wiped out their
While some of the pastoralists
prefer livestock rearing as their main stay, others have
abandoned the practice and diversified into small scale farming.
Adan Fayo, 44 years old from
Merti in Isiolo County, is one among other herders who opted out
of livestock rearing into farming following 2008 drought that
hit northern Kenya where livestock were lost in masses.
have learnt a lot from the previous droughts that reoccur
after every season where thousands of animals worth millions
of shillings were wiped,” Fayo told Xinhua in an interview on
The pastoralist communities that
inhabit in northern Kenya are still reeling from effects of
climate change, several months from the aftermath of severe
drought and famine that hit most parts of the country in 2012.
Harsh climate change over the
years has led to cattle rustling and conflict over water and
pasture which has been relatively common among these communities
sometimes going unstated, but the recent cycles of violence in
the area that is reportedly said to have left dozens of people
dead has caught the attention of UN and the government.
Fayo admitted that though he lost
hundreds of livestock in 2002 drought he did not embrace farming
until 2008 when he lost 240 herds of cattle to the drought
forcing him to move to the town where he survived on relief food
supply with his five children.
Fayo is among the ex-herders who
joined hand and created furrows along Ewaso Nyiro River where
they ventured into large scale farming to improve their way of
Fayo said half of the herders in
the larger northern region dropped their way of life into
farming after their livestock perished following recurrent
drought the wiped out their cattle, camels and goats.
formed groups and diversified our livelihood from pure
pastoralism into crop and vegetable farming,” said Fayo.
He said some of the pastoralists
like him were forced to join the group after the World Food
Program (WFP) reduced the number of relief food beneficiaries
and later stopped supplying relief food to hunger stricken
families in the area.
Fayo said the number of herders
joining the Jalla Jallalu farm was swelling after Merti
Integrated development program, a local NGO operating in the
region offered free seeds to farmers through the support of
Catholic Organization for Relief Development and Aid (CORD AID).
He said the group was targeting
2,000 hactares of land from the current 1,000 that hosts 700
have reached out to other 500 herders to increase the network
and venture into farming following December short rains,” said
He said more than 300 ex-herders
have gone through training organized by Merti Integrated
Development Program (IDP) on better skills on farming and
importance of diversifying their livelihood to ensure food
are now past relief food beneficiaries because hunger had
driven us into crop farming where we are reaping maximum
profit,” said ex-herder.
Fayo is now a successful farmer
who supplies water melon, green vegetables, high grade onions,
maize, beans, tomatoes and peas to the local markets on daily
Merti Integrated Development
Program CEO Jillo Shande said the farmers have started
harvesting and marketing their farm produce to larger towns in
Isiolo and Meru County.
He said his organization through
CORDAID have embarked on supporting the groups in order for them
to realize their dreams.
Shande said the organization will
empower the groups to use scientific research to help in
improving food shortage caused by climate change.
The CEO said lack of food in the
region and more so in the country was as result of farmers
failing to use proper research advice when dealing with food
He said herders will also be
advised on venturing into drought resistant crops as a copping
mechanism for the drought in the region.
Ex-herders success stories came
three months after the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and
Fisheries launched a resilience projects to cushion the
pastoralists against the effect of the drought.
The agriculture ministry in
conjunction with the African Development Bank (AfDB) had
launched 64-million-dollar drought resilience and sustainable
livelihoods program in Isiolo of northern Kenya.
The project which is funded by
AfDB and the Kenyan government is aimed at contributing to the
attainment of the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs).
Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of
Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Felix Koskei said the
agenda to mitigate drought emergencies came out of the impacts
of the 2008-2011 droughts in the horn of Africa.
The secretary said the AfDB was
supporting the agricultural sector in its five components at the
tune of 145 million dollars.
He said the projects funded by
the AfDB in the agricultural sector includes restoration of farm
infrastructure and livelihood improvement, small scale
horticultural project, green zones development support and Ewaso
Nyiro conservation project among others.
Already the government has
dedicated 6.8 million dollars to demonstrate its commitment
towards economic growth and drought resilience in the arid
Koskei said the damages and
losses caused during the last drought was estimated at 11.3
billion dollars in value while livestock losses were significant
at 8.1 billion and agriculture stands at 1.4 billion dollars.
Koskei said the resilience
project shall be one of the initiatives in the agriculture
sector that contribute to food security as well as provide
Kenyan in ASALs with opportunities for generating incomes and
He said his ministry was working
towards ensuring that every county produces surplus of food for
its own use and builds community resilience by providing the
enabling environment for investment and sustainability.
Koskei was addressing in Isiolo
during the commissioning of the resilience and sustainable
livelihood project that targets Marsabit, Turkana, Isiolo,
Baringo and Samburu counties on Nov. 30.
He said the new project is
anchored on the first pillar of the first medium term plan for
vision 2030 supporting the development of agriculture and
livestock sub-sectors to enhance food, industrial crop and
livestock production in arid and semi arid areas.
Koskei regretted that over 10
million Kenyans suffer chronic food insecurity and poor
nutrition as result of drought and flood in the country.
are going to employ advanced technologies such as irrigation,
water harvesting and feed conservation measures under this
erratic weather patterns in arid areas to ensure better
production,” Kosgey said.
He said the government recognized
that subsistence farming had failed and that there was need to
start a revolution in the agricultural sector to spur the area
into economic and viable for commercial benefit.