Efforts to reduce migration though hay harvesting

By Michael Opiyo

In Kikuru area of Dalalekut ward, Kajiado Central; the community has identified a way to protect their livestock during the dry seasons. By harvesting and storing hay for herds of livestock, they hope to reduce migration in search for pasture, a norm that has taken decades for the community. So far, more than 200 households have associated themselves with the practice.

The biting drought regularly experienced by the community, along with the adversities of COVID-19 that has slumped global economy, bringing major activities in Kenya to a stand-still, made people to change tact.

John ole Wuapari, a retired social worker has been on the forefront in opening the minds and the eyes of Maasai community.

  When County Press made courtesy visit to his place it was marvellous, unbelievable to witness someone offered 3 acres of land for free to the community to building hay storage and have extra space of training them about the important of hay harvesting and farming both harvesting and storage.

The distance speak itself how the man behind the ideas is committed to ensure the Maa land will get it effectively. 42kilometres from Kajiado town, the Head Office of County Government of Kajiado and 8kilometres from Mashuru, marked you not mentioned Magadi, Shompole, Meto, Loitokitok and among other places where he visit to sensitized the community.

There’s two ways of transport; one motorbike will take you 21/2 hours from Kajiado town while personal vihecle 1hour 10minutes. One will cross three rivers that has no bridge with an essential of the community risking their lives during rainy season.

At the place they have constructed hay storage supported by World Bank, that has a capacity of 25,000 bales of hay. The store was established in 2018 after they wrote propasal to the ministry of agriculture of Kajiado County to assist them realized their dream.

“I experience the challenge in 2004, took 34cows to look for pastures then the worst part only 4 servived and the rest died.
In the year 2016, I read an advertisement in one of Kenyan newspaper about the World Bank on supporting agriculture particularly to hay harvesting by constructing 14stores in 14counties being Kajiado County was in the thier list,” said Waupari.

The group was led by Waupari, he wrote propasal to the World Bank to appeal for support whereby it became successful.

Thanks to the World Bank, they went through our propasal and then they responded positive and sponsored the construction of the storage worth 6Million so far so good the community around now are the beneficiaries of the project. They come and store their hay for furture use to their livestock here which was not there before, Waupari pointed out.

“Eventually, my dream has become true, it has beared fruit, however, it was a heavy task to convince the community about the idea as many laugh at me if I will make it, despites the fact that they couldn’t thought of such, suddenly they are the most beneficiaries out of the projects.

Currently over 200homestead had copy the ideas and apply to their homes whereby they have construct small storage as per their effort,” he observed.

The Maa land has become common on immigrants of herds during drought season to look for pastures such as on the mountains where they can stay there up to 90days before coming back home while others end up lossing their herds on the way.

It has bring an impact towards the boy child education, they drop out of school to go and look after herds in the mountains.

Wuapari has look for lasting solution to the community, this will reduce lost of livestock eradicate poverty and give room for boy child to go to school without wasting time with herds looking for pastures during drought season, Waupari noted.

He said that hay harvesting is very important due to it’s leaf and seed material in the hay determine its quality, they contain more of nutrients value for the animal than the stem.

The farmers should harvest hay at the point when the seed heeds are not quite ripe and leaf is at its maximum when the grass is mowed in the field.

It has various ways of harvesting hay; one cut the grass or alfalfa using a scythe or shears. Depending with the size of your harvest, chop the grass or alfalfa about 1-2 inches ( 2.5-5.1cm) from the roots.

After cutting the hay, collect it in a container for curing later on. However, for larger crops, you use a rotary disk or sickle mower, narrated Waupari.

Waupari advised, the best time to harvest hay is when the hay field is just about to flower. But harvesting hay in the morning just after the morning dew is off for the better drying. However, if you want more sugar in your hay the suggestion is to harvest that later in the day.

Why is hay rolled? Hay rolls are enormous round bales of hay… hay rolls are enormous round bales of hay. They’re a compact way of store lot of hay , with a lot less human exertion involved. They shed rain water better than either small or large square bales, if they’re left outdoors without cover.

Round bales are made by rolling the hay into baler which winds or roll the hay hay until it reaches the size set for the bale, at which time twine or netting is wrapped around thw bale to maintain its shape.

In conclusion, he appealed to the County Government of Kajiado to set a side certain budget to promote agriculture on hay harvesting and sensitized the community the important of hay harvesting that can stay up to 5years depends with storage. And also urged the community to adher in the measures raised by Ministry of Health to curb the viruse, stay at home to contain the spread of coronavirus. 

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