Shade nets for sustainable agriculture in marsabit, Northern kenya

With the climatic changes that the whole world is experiencing, the people that are adversely affected are the ones living in the rural areas and who totally depend on Livestock keeping and agriculture as a way of life. To help farmers cope with climate change and also to promote climate resilience agriculture Caritas Marsabit in partnership with Catholic Agency for overseas Development (CAFOD) introduce kitchen gardening technique to various self-help groups across Marsabit County by training them about Shade net technology. By farming sustainability, we mean economic benefits to the farm family, the community and environmental conservation. We want to have a whole system approach whose overall goal is the continuing health of the land and people.

Shade nets is a framed structure that partially control atmosphere and environments by reducing light intensity and effective heat during day time to crop grown under it. Hence round the year seasonal and off-season cultivation is possible.

Shade net is a crucial equipment for farming out here who want to venture into tin cultivation of flower plants, foliage plants, medicinal and aromatic plant, vegetables and spices as well as raising nurseries of fruits and vegetables. Shade nets also protect against pest attack and natural weather disturbances such as wind, rain, hail, frost, snow, bird and insect.

Shade nets help in creating favorable micro environment for the production of vermin compost which plays a major role in improving growth and yield of different field crops, vegetables and fruit crops.

After identification of 3 groups including Saqaqe Self Help group, Badasa self-help group and SKM Environmental club establishment of shade net was conducted at Dakabaricha, Badasa, and SKM Primary School.

Saqaqe Self Help group a vibrant group of 23 members with 5 male and 18 female is working on different income generating activities which include weekly and monthly contribution and vegetable farming in the other hand Badasa self-help group is working on kitchen gardening technique of growing kales using modified technique by only covering the upper side of the garden due to lack of resources.

After the three shade nets were established nursery bed were prepared and planted practically. Caritas Marsabit provided groups with kales (Sukuma) and tomatoes (nyanya), Farm equipment as well as pesticides and fungicides.

Group members with the help and advice from the field officer, manure was incorporated while pesticides and fungicides were sprayed exactly at the time required.

After a month of watering and nursing the nursery the seedlings were transplanted into different holes, these groups kept the routine of watering and spraying crops. Despite water shortage in the county due to drought being experienced currently, group members have been making contributions to buy water for the shade net.

Saqaqe Self Help group and Badasa self-help group have made successful several harvest and so far so good Badasa self-help group and Saqaqe Self Help group have made fives and four sales respectively. For Badasa 50 bundles of kales amounting to 1500Ksh and 10kg of Tomatoes at 60 equivalent to 600Ksh. While Saqaqe self-help sold 65 bundles of Kales @30 which is equivalent to 1950Ksh and 18Kg of tomatoes @ 60 amounting to 1080Ksh.

“We are making good sales considering the climatic condition at the moment but unfortunately some of the revenue is used to buy water” said Baqe Duriyo who is the chairperson Saqaqe Self Help group.

According to him they spend a lot in water since they buy it on daily bases and they don’t have big water storage facility that they can use if they buy water in large volumes.

Gammasi Self-help group have successfully done transplanting of the seedlings with the hope of succeeding like their counter parts in Badasa.

After we visited Badasa Self-help group we were mind blow by the good work Badasa team was doing and we thought to ourselves that this is what we want for our group and from there we requested to be part of the team and lucky today we can say we are in a good track.

It is interesting and motivating to understand that successful groups are turning out role models for the groups. After visiting Badasa self-help group Gammasi Self-help group) are motivated to work hard and smart which is clearly shown by efforts by the group towards this project.

Story By: Wilfred Letawa (Communication Intern) & Ibrae Wakera (Disaster Management, Field Officer)