by Bedah Mengo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- At Osiligi Farm in
Kajiado County, south of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, tens of
indigenous cattle roamed freely in the paddocks.
section of the farm located in the pastoralism zone occupied by
the Maasai, some hybrid dairy cows chewed the cud while others
fed on silage.
But away from the cattle in a house made of wood, chickens
squawked and others crowed.
The chickens of the Kuroiler breed are the latest addition to
the farm as the owner, a Maasai, diversifies his livestock
venture amid climate change.
Initially kept by other communities, especially those living
in western Kenya, the chickens are finding space on farms in
Kajiado and other counties where pastoralists live as the
communities seek to mitigate effects of climate change, boost
food security and incomes.
In pastoralist zones like Kajiado, biting drought has seen
cattle keepers over the years lose their herd due to lack of
This is besides the changing land use where houses are taking
most of the spaces and increased subdivision of land, with sizes
"We decided to keep chickens because the hot weather in this
region is favorable.
"The chickens are less prone to diseases thus the cost of
production is lower," Paul Sosoika, the manager of the farm said
in a recent interview, adding market for eggs is also readily
The chickens are less than eight months old on the farm, with
Sosoika noting that they are learning on job.
"We have never kept chickens before because traditionally
they are not one of our livestock.
"We mainly keep cattle but we have to change with times.
"Things are not the way they used to be, especially the
weather," he said.
Dozens of families in the county have also embraced chickens,
with women leading from the front.
Some 1,200 women in Orgira, Kajiado County are currently
keeping indigenous chickens thanks to a program by a non-state
The chickens are helping them build resilience especially in
the face of erratic rains and enabling them to be food secure
and get income.
"In our culture, livestock like cattle, sheep and goats are a
man’s property, but chickens are now ours.
"We can sell eggs and the birds themselves without men asking
us," Caroline Naserian said.
The owner of 40 chickens noted that the birds give her eggs
and are a source of income not only for her, but also her
Naserian said that the community has not only embraced
chickens in terms of keeping, they are also eating, a change
from cattle and goat meat they have been used to for several
Peter Oduor, an animal health specialist from Egerton
University, noted that chickens are the best bet in helping
pastoralists mitigate effects of climate change and cope with
"They don’t require much space to keep, unlike cattle.
"When it comes to feeding, when kept alongside cattle, one
can easily raise worms using dung and feed them," he said.
He added that the hot weather in semi-arid regions is
favorable for chickens, unlike the cold weather in highlands,
which comes with diseases.
"Most farmers in the region are grappling with the
consequences of erratic rains, rising temperatures and drought,
which are effects of climate change.
"Keeping chickens is good way to help pastoralists mitigate
some of these challenges," he said.
Kenyans enjoy fresh
produce price drop amid heavy rains
by Robert Manyara KITALE (Xinhua) --
John Karanja, a hotelier in the
northwestern Kenyan town of Kitale, had for the better part of
this year grappled with high costs of fresh vegetables.
The prolonged dry spell experienced in Kenya and the greater
Horn of Africa region from January to late April suppressed food
production even in the traditional bread baskets like Kitale
town where Karanja resides.
Only a handful of farmers managed to produce vegetable
The situation forced Karanja to spend more on vegetable to
maintain his hotel business.
The drought fueled a serious shortage of vegetable such as
kale, cabbage, tomatoes and traditional vegetable such as
Karanja like other hoteliers had to contend with the
skyrocketing prices of vegetable occasioned by low supply.
"I used to spend a lot of money on vegetable since my
supplier had doubled the prices due to shortages," Karanja told
Xinhua in an interview on Tuesday.
The price of a sack of kale was going at 2,800 Kenyan
shillings (28 U.S. dollars), up from 12 dollars while the of
cabbage rose from 0.2 dollars to a dollar per piece.
But since last week, vegetable supply has increased, courtesy
of heavy rains pounding different parts of the country.
The rains have enabled farmers to grow vegetable which has
since improved supply.
"It is a relief to us.
"The cost of vegetables has gone down and it is affordable.
"My returns are better than the previous months when I spent
more on the produce," said Karanja.
The improved vegetable supply is not only a relief for
hoteliers but also the inhabitants of Kitale town. Grace Wambui
admits that the high costs of vegetable had burdened her purse.
"Previously I used to spend 0.3 U.S. dollar to buy kale for
supper for my family but after the supply dwindled and price
shot up I had to spend 0.7 U.S. dollar," said Wambui, a civil
Eric Mboya, a technician in Kitale town said that the rains
have been a blessing to residents in the greater North Rift
"The high cost of food had in the past weeks emptied my
"Imagine spending over one U.S dollar on vegetable.
"Vegetable supply has increased and we are spending less
money," said Mboya, a father of six.
Expert advises Kenya to
promote smallholder farming for food security
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
An agricultural expert on Tuesday called on the
Kenyan government to promote smallholder farming in order to
address the issue of food insecurity in the country.
Layla Liebetrau with the Route to Food Initiative said there
are many economic advantages in farming on a small scale land
that can boost food security.
"Since there are few farmers who own large tracts of land to
support industrial and large scale farming, small scale
agriculture is the way to go if food security is to be realized
in the country," said Liebetrau.
"What the government needs to do is ensure that there are as
many water points as possible to the smallholders which they can
use to irrigate their crops," she added.
Liebetrau said budgetary allocation to the agricultural
sector was trimmed despite the sector is contributing about 25
percent to the country’s gross domestic product.
"The allocation to agriculture and food is only 2.9 percent
of the total budget, which is much lower than the Maputo
Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security that stipulated
that 10 percent of national budget allocation should be
allocated to agriculture development," she said.