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Colonial furrows turn semi-arid Yatta into irrigated oasis

A furrow that was used by the colonial administrators to punish the locals of Yatta, in Machakos is turning the semi-arid area into an oasis, with irrigated farms supplying households with surplus produce which they sell.

There are pipes underneath connected to the furrow extending to different farms. “Look at the lush green surrounding my farm. This place was once rocky land without any plants growing there. Now I earn from it, and it has kept my children in school,” said Martha Mwende a single mother of four who has used the water from the furrow for the last ten years.

She plants, kale, onions, avocado, and tomatoes on her one-acre piece of land which in a good harvest gives her Sh80,000.

“The beauty with the crops I have chosen to grow is that they offer me year-round supply. I am never out of business because I alternate these crops. I also don’t spend a lot in labout because my children go for a day school so they water the crops every evening and do the weeding on weekends,” Mwende further added.

However, The farmers are concerned that the water may dry because the furrow is covered with soil and the government has taken too long to solve the problem.

The furrow had dried for six months as a result of prolonged drought which saw farmers lose a lot of produce. Farmers are therefore asking the government and the necessary institutions to divert some water from River Athi to keep the furrows functioning.

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