News and knowhow for farmers

40 refugees in Turkana set to up vegetable production after training

farmers in turkana tending to cowpeas

Over 40 refugees from Kalobeyei Settlement in Turkana County are set to maximize the use of limited space and scarce water to produce maximum yields thanks to a project by Ruben Centre, a non-profit faith-based organization in Kenya that aims to address food insecurity through innovative, climate-resilient and replicable agricultural techniques in the area.

“After successful implementation of this project in Somalia, our main aim to Turkana residents especially those in refugee camps is to ensure that there is food production all through the year despite climatic conditions,” said Musa Juma, irrigation technician at Ruben Centre.

Some of the crops the farmers are trained on how to produce include spinach, kales, okra, jute mallow, spider plant, eggplant, capsicum, cow peace, nightshade, amaranths, and watermelon.

Other than refugee centres, the project has been aimed at junior farmers and the general host community with innovative kitchen gardening technologies and vegetable drying enterprises in three phases implementation approach.

In this, Ruben Centre experts train farmers through field school models, on ground or field implementation and site capability assessment on sunken beds, wick irrigation, container gardens or vertical sack gardens and zai pit farming techniques.

“Kitchen gardening, for example, has been appreciated by residents as a means of engaging young farmers and their facilitators in learning practical application of knowledge and skills for food production,” said Juma.

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“Our initiative is meant to empower learners to improve their food and income security through application of numerous dry land farming technologies.”

Initially, the project targeted 30 refugees with wick vegetables gardens but the number has risen to 40 where each beneficiary has been provided with wick garden measuring 2x4m with capacity of 75 litres of water sustaining the garden for two weeks.

However, due to the increasing interest from residents, water challenge and space, some of the beneficiaries have been forced to share the gardens of 1x5m each holding 30 liters of water also enough for two weeks.

Juma says that already the first beneficiaries are expected to begin harvesting for household and for market having been taken through different crop production techniques, water harvesting, pest and disease management and general routine farm management practices.

“Though the farmers are still facing limited sources of water, lack of or poor water harvesting techniques and conflicts of priorities on water usage, more people have shown interest in practicing farming through the established gardens resulting to improved diet and income through sale of surplus produce,” said Juma.

Caption: Women at Turkana’s Kalobeyei Settlement tendering their cowpea vegetables. The farmers have been able to grow a variety of vegetables using innovative, climate-resilient and replicable agricultural techniques. Photo courtesy.

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