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Improving Irrigation Systems for Baringo and Laikipia Farmers

Farmers in Baringo and Laikipia County, Kenya will benefit from water saving irrigation technology systems set to be introduced in their county according to ALIN’s Projects Manager, Noah Lusaka.

Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) officials visited Laikipia and Baringo Counties to assess the capacities of community groups to pilot a solar powered drip irrigation system. The introduction of the irrigation system is part of a climate change adaptation Project implemented by ALIN in partnership with Act!. Following the visits, ALIN identified two groups that will pilot the drip system. The two groups are: Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group based in Laikipia County and Eldume Irrigation Scheme based in Baringo County.

Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group located at Matwiku Village in Ng’arua is composed of 21 members, 19 males and two females. The group members are experienced in growing kales, tomatoes, onions and cabbages during the dry season. They plan to try other crops like capsicum, peas and stevia during the season starting October 2014.

Eldume Irrigation Scheme System is located in Baringo County - Marigat Sub-County and has 100 members, 60 males and 40 females. The group’s main activities are farming maize for Kenya Seed Company, watermelon, beans and onions. They recently started growing upland rice (New Rice For Africa - NERICA).

Most farmers in the two Counties practice furrow and basin irrigation systems that use more water. Under furrow irrigation water is applied and distributed over the soil surface by gravity whereas in basin irrigation, a level field surrounded by a ridge of earth to form a basin is required to be flooded with water. Due to climatic variations, there is need to create awareness and support farmers to access new and affordable irrigation systems that conserve water, energy and labour while maximizing production. The climate smart agriculture practices will enhance community’s adaptation strategies and resilience to effects of climate change and sustainable management of scarce natural resources. These strategies will improve food security while increasing income levels at household levels. Youth who will engage in using the technologies will be self employed contributing to wealth creation for a healthy nation!

The solar powered drip irrigation system will enhance water efficiency since it saves up to over 80% of water that is wasted by furrow irrigation. This technology is innovative such that it combines solar water pumping technology with high efficiency drip irrigation enabling farmers’ to grow more crops while spending less money and reduced emissions. The drip technology distributes water uniformly to all crops and can be controlled according  to the plants growth.

 

Written By Faith Kisiangani