Farmers in arid areas have perfected the art of water harvesting to insulate their crops and livestock during dry spells with black plastic film and mulching having successfully transformed deserts into oases while doubling yields.
For a long time many farmers in dry areas have struggled with harsh weather conditions that have seen yields dwindle year after year. This, coupled with pests and diseases have left farmers impoverished. And as the rains become depressed, farmers have to toil to keep their plants flourishing.
But one farmer in Juja area has perfected the art of water harvesting and mulching when it rains, a practice which has been abig blessing during dry spells. Sammy Thimba has been so successful with this newfound venture that his farm has been turned into a model farm where farmers flock from far and wide to learn about the new low cost technology.
“It is true that technology has changed the status of ordinary farmers in the village and most of us are reliable witnesses having adopted water saving technologies in our farms to sustain food production,” said Thimba
Immediately it rains, Thimba harvests water and fills it in ponds that he has dug. He has heavily invested in black plastic film which he says is important in reducing water evaporation enabling him to grow staples and horticultural crops in all seasons.
“The plastic film is spread in the farm after rainfall to help preserve moisture. It is cheap, recyclable and reduces the cost of weeding,” said Thimba.He revealed that adoption of the black plastic film and mulching tripled production of staples like maize, beans alongside fresh produce on his land.
At the formative stages, Thimba encountered myriad setbacks that almost dampened his desire to undertake this activity for the long haul. “Juja happens to be a dry area and rain fed agriculture has become untenable as we experience prolonged dry spells. Most farmers have invested in small dams to irrigate their crops,” Thimba said.
He revealed that Juja is currently a major supplier of farm produce in Nairobi and adjacent towns thanks to the adoption of irrigated farming.
“We are involved in general horticulture as well as cultivation of maize and legumes. Introduction of water harvesting technology has increased production by 70 percent,” said Thimba.
He has used plastic film to conserve moisture for the last two years and hope to expand the technology to the entire farm.
He added that this technology has insulated small holders in Juja from crop failures.
“It is possible to harvest seventy bags of maize in a two acre farm through the use of plastic film to retain soil moisture,” Thimba said.
The deployment of Chinese technologies on dry land agriculture has offered respite to Kenyan small holders grappling with declining soil fertility, habitat loss and water scarcity.