Farmers in Napak, Turkana County have to move from their villages to live on their farms when their crops near maturity.
For months, the farmers live on the farm guarding the crops against the birds, monkeys, and other wild animals.
John Ajok is one farmer who not only moved with his household goods but also with his chickens that roam around his makeshift shelter.
Living on the farm for John and many other farmers seem normal as they tend to their farms in the morning before the sun gets hot.
As the ground heats up, most farmers retire to shelter under trees and in their makeshift homes. John retires to a tree that has several oil containers hanging. The containers are shelters for his 20 chickens.
Chicken container shelter
To provide shelter for the chickens, John has cut out the sides of the plastic oil containers making way for a larger entrance.
He demonstrates how he places the chicken inside before securing it with a dry reed leaf in the evening. He then hangs the containers now with chicken on a tree branch until the morning when he lets them loose. “These plastic containers are very secure once they are closed.
The dogs or the wild cats cannot get to my chicken. Only the opening at the top of the container is the weak area as snakes can easily slide in.” He adds that one container can house up to four chickens.
John considers himself a mixed farmer as he shows us his maize and groundnut farm. He says the decision to live on the farm is a necessary one. “If we do not guard the farm we shall lose all the produce to the birds, animals, and even thieves.”
Keeping chicken on the farm provides John not only with chicken products but also manure which he uses on the farm as fertilizer.
He acknowledges that crops planted with chicken manure turn out stronger and more productive. “I use the manure on my crops here, I think the plants love it because they turn out healthier.”
John Ajok’s story brings forth farmers’ challenges and resilience. Farmers in arid and pastoralist regions face unique challenges ranging from the lack of water to farmer-pastoralists conflicts.
Many times these challenges force farmers to relocate from their homes to live on the farms for months to protect the so-much-needed food.