Samuel Aipa just loaded up his bicycle with a crate full of tomatoes and green bell pepper. Just when he is ready to depart, one of his village friends stops him and purchases two green bell pepper and two tomatoes at Ksh40. It is his first sale of the day.
Samuel is a farmer in Nadapal Turkana County. In the recent past, the county has been experiencing a long dry spell with temperatures averaging 32°C. Unlike in the past, the region now hardly experiences any rain. Despite these harsh conditions, Samuel has managed to continuously produce food from his farm.
When he began farming in 2016 Samuel wanted to bring economic change to his family and be an example to his community. He is glad the dream is gradually coming true.
He recounts how his three-acre farm was in 2016. “My farm was nothing close to what it is now. I had to clear the bushes and create a fence around it.” Samuel says he has faced many challenges the biggest being the lack of enough water. “Sometime back the irrigation canal that brings water here blocked after years of neglect and that affected everyone here. The scheme was left unattended and became bushy. Thanks to PanAfricare, the canal got rehabilitated and the whole scheme got ploughed; you can see the whole scheme is back.”
Samuel tenders to his farm with his wife and two children. While he is out selling the produce, the wife monitors the farm. The children help out in the evening after school and during the weekends.
On the farm, tomatoes, green bell pepper, maize, black nightshade, cowpeas, and watermelons grow. He feeds his family with the food produced and sells the surplus to his village mates and occasionally supplies groceries in Lodwar town. “Farming is a profitable venture although sometimes the market is flooded with produce from other towns pushing down prices.” Samuel says.
He uses the profits to pay school fees and buy household goods. “This farm takes my children to school and pays for everything that they need.” Samuel adds that he reinvests some of his profits back to the farm. “With the money, I buy seeds, pesticides, and goats. Sometimes I also have to pay people to help me here.”
Samuel advises farmers that the key to successful farming is crop diversification. He says farming different crops has helped him satisfy market demands while at the same time keeping the soil productive. Despite the challenges, Samuel sees a brighter future for farmers in Turkana County saying the food market is ever open.
“Without farmers, the world would go to bed hungry. I believe we are a special breed of people.” -Samuel Aipa, Turkana Kenya.