Wangui TAITA TAVETA (Xinhua) -- A low cost technology
that uses plastic linings to cover top soil has come to the
rescue of farmers in Kenya’s drought-prone arid and semi arid
The technology which has been piloted
in dry parts of Taita Taveta County in the coast region will
help farmers incur fewer expenses while irrigating crops.
An official from agencies that are
implementing the technology who spoke to Xinhua recently hailed
its potential to transform agriculture in the arid regions where
food insecurity is rampant.
John Mlamba, executive director of
Management of Arid Zones Initiative and Development Option (MAZIDO)
said the plastic linings cut the cost of irrigation by half
while reducing water loss.
“Our pilot projects in the dry parts
of Taita Taveta County have shown that the polythene lining
can preserve water in the soil for six to eight weeks when
complimented by organic matter in a process described as
plasticulture,” said Mlamba.
“The idea which originated from
Thailand has gained popularity globally and it is now being
practiced in the Middle East, Australia and other Far East
nations,” he added.
He said the plasticulture technology
is more viable for cultivation of water melons that take only
four months to mature.
Mlamba told Xinhua that plasticulture
has led to bumper harvest of watermelons in the drier parts of
Taita Taveta County while utilizing minimal water.
Promoters of plasticulture technology
usually encourage farmers to supplement it with organic manure
in order to boost soil water retention and nutrients.
“The organic matter holds the water
moisture for more than six weeks. This is supported by the
laying of polythene lining covering the area around the stem
of the crops, preventing direct sunlight,” Mlamba said.
He noted that besides minimizing
irrigation costs and boosting food security, the technology has
boosted farmers’ revenue.
Mlamba noted that a farmer in a dry
region can irrigate his crops once a week if he uses
plasticulture and compost manure.
He underscored the critical role of
low cost technologies to help Kenyan smallholder farmers cope
with adverse impacts of climate change like recurrent droughts.
Taita Taveta is among 23 Kenyan
counties that have been affected by a severe food crises linked
to failed rains in the last two seasons.
The expansive county has varying
agro-ecological zones but has the capacity to feed itself and
the entire coast region if farmers embrace climate smart