By Michael Opiyo
A World Bank Sh99 million grant to Kajiado County government to introduce modern agriculture to the Maasai community is set to transform pastoralists’ livelihoods.
The grant was disbursed in six wards in three sub counties under the Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP).
The project aims at making the pastoral community embrace modern farming to improve productivity in crop and livestock production in terms of profitability and resilience and, at the same time, enhance climate change and food security without negatively impacting the environment.
The use of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices will improve the adaptation of the farmers towards combating climate change and reduce the adverse impacts on agricultural production.
Areas that have been benefited from the projects include Dalalekutuk, Mosiro in Kajiado Central, Rombo, Entonet/Lenkisim in Kajiado South, Magadi and Ewaso Kedong’ in Kajiado West where various groups benefited in the project’s phase 1 consuming Sh44,377,600 and Sh24,500,000 in phase two.
The project’s phase1 consists of 68 Common Interest Groups (CIGs) while phase 2 consists of 70. The project is as a result of a research that was carried out by the County Government of Kajiado and spearheaded by KCSAP. Its findings revealed that the poverty index in the pastoral community was very high. Kajiado County is among the 24 counties benefiting from the KCSAP project in Kenya to combat climate change and food security concerns.
Kajiado County Governor Joseph ole Lenku applauded the efforts of World Bank in eradicating climate change and food insecurity that has been a major challenge across the globe.
He urged the CIGs to utilize the resources they’ve been given so that when KCSAP monitors the projects, there should be an improvement to show their willingness to embrace modern farming.
Kajiado County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture and Livestock Jackline Koin said the county was privileged to be among the selected counties to implement the project
in Kenya. She said selected CIGs were given different inputs for crop and livestock production according to the proposals they wrote and the requests they made.
Koin said poultry groups received 8 weeks old indigenous chicken while apiculture bee keepers received Langstroth beehives. Small holder farmers were given equipment such as Bush cutter – wire brush 4 stroke, improved manual hay balers, Forage chopper, Motorized Backpack weeder, Hand pump, Knapsack sprayers 16 litres and Honey extractors.
She added that in order to address water scarcity problems, the county government of Kajiado was funding farm groups to set up irrigation infrastructure.
Chief Officer for Agriculture, Mr Moses Murunya said the criteria of selection of the projects entailed identifying existing newly formed CIGs to invest in community CSA micro-projects under particular value chains that they work on. The value chains include tomato, dairy, meat, sheep and goats.
Murunya added that through the phase 1 project, the department managed to vaccinate 332,000 livestock against the Rift fever and blue tongue.
He further said farmers’ groups with 10-acre pieces of land were funded and are now carrying out crop irrigation where they grow tomatoes, vegetables and among crops.
To ensure the resources are well utilized, there is a Community Driven Development Committee (CDDC) in each ward responsible for co-ordinating and managing the funds for the projects. CIGs then submit their proposal to the respective CDDC. The proposals are then forwarded to the final stage for further screening by the County Technical Advisory Committee.
Dairy unit owners were funded to purchase dairy cattle. Others received Standard semi Range Housing for indigenous chicken, beans seeds, cowpeas seeds, inorganic fertilizers, 50kg bags and agri- chemicals and livestock drugs.
John Waupari, one of the beneficiaries sensitized the community about hay harvesting and donated 3 acres of his land to the community that has been used to build hay shed with a capacity of 25,000 bales .So far they have stored 10,200 bales that will be used to serve the community during drought season.
He applauded the County Government through the Agriculture and Livestock ministry for making the Maasai community to embrace modern farming.
The women applauded their husbands for co-operating and allowing them to fully participate in crop production and bee keeping.
Entonet/Lenkisim Ward Chairperson of procurement, Mr Kitasho Saito said the community had realized zero grazing was the best method of livestock keeping with the highest yield with value addition.
“The project will definitely empower women and the community at large. It will also promote the education of the girl-child as the dropout rate previously caused by movement in search of pasture will reduce,” said Elizabeth Meroi, one of the group members.
The project was established in 2019 and had been scheduled for implemented by 2022.
The project backs agricultural practices that sustainably increase productivity and system resilience while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
It also plays a vital role in the rural economy to ensure food security under devolved units. It was started after it was noted that 26 per cent Gross Domestic Production (GDP) of Kenya‘s economy is indirectly generated through linkages with the agricultural sector. The sector employs 40 percent of the total population in Kenya and accommodates 70 per cent of the country’s rural people.