Fund to change face of Turkana farming

Livestock farmers in Samburu, Pokot and Turkana are among the beneficiaries of a US$56million fund from the African Development Bank (AfDB) that has been set aside to jumpstart modern day farming that would end perennial poverty in the region and assist farmers to permanently rely on themselves.

The fund under the green economy model, which aims to end drought in drought stricken areas of Africa  will also be allocated to farmers in Djibouti and Ethiopia.
The project will assist over 12million people, 98million cattle and 173million sheep and goats in the affected regions according to an AfDB statement,   This, besides improving storage, marketing and transportation facilities, including the upgrading of rural roads that are one of the obstacles to farmers' access to the markets.

“The funds will support activities to restore subsistence farming through investment in natural resource and land management as well as assist in the restoration and protection of the eco-system and assist in rebuilding agriculture and livestock infrastructure and contribute to improvement of storage, marketing and transport facilities including the upgrading of rural roads,” read part of the report.

The efforts of the African Development Bank will go along way in supplementing Kenyan government efforts to turn the traditionally neglected area into a booming business hub through modern ways of farming. Already the government is constructing roads in Turkana to ensure timely delivery of produces from the farms to the markets. Introducing policies to allow secure and profitable inter border trade between Kenya and Ethiopia is among other projects in the offing.

But it is perhaps the pastoralist communities resolve to complement livestock keeping with other forms of farming like crop production that has even attracted the international donors. The catastrophic drought of 2009 and 2010 that saw them loose almost all their herds, and left them dying and starving changed perceptions. With the assistance from novel Kenyan initiatives like the infamous “Kenyans for Kenya” boreholes were dug and dams built.

Farmers who heeded to the advice of agricultural officers now grow fresh produce even as they keep livestock. This has not only supplemented their income but assured them of food irrespective of the climatic conditions. “You need to see the green lush farms that have replaced the barren and rocky land to believe that all what the farmers here needed was support and a mind shift. And the success of one farmer is inspiring others. We would want this to last,”says Habil Kadir an extension officer in Turkana.

In Kenya the funds will be channeled through the government which through special committees appointed by the bank will identify areas to fund.

                                                         Written by Yussuf Tuba for African Laughter