Despite a long drought in Turkana County, some farmers have been resilient, making the best out of a bad situation. Natuntun farm in Turkwel, Turkana County, is one such farm, brimming with green produce. The farmers are grateful that they can produce food under the prevailing conditions.
Selina Akale is a farmer at Natuntun farm. Using water from Turkwel River channeled through canals, Selina grows groundnuts, sweet potatoes, green grams, maize, and sorghum on her one-acre farm.
For the past two years, Selina has been cultivating sweet potatoes, and it’s a decision she cherishes wholeheartedly.
“Sweet potatoes are a blessing in these challenging times,” she says with a radiant smile.
Their resilience to diseases and constant demand in the market has turned them into a staple crop on her farm.
The mother of three says she sells the sweet potatoes in Turkwel market although sometimes she receives direct orders from hotels in Lodwar town.
In a single season, she says she makes up to ksh8000 which helps offset most of her bills including school expenses for her children.
Venturing further into Selina’s farm, we stumble upon a section dedicated to groundnuts. With excitement in her voice, Selina shares how her newfound interest in groundnuts grew from a simple conversation at a nearby shopping center. “In Kang’alita, I overheard people talking about the profitability of groundnut farming. My husband managed to find some seeds and we decided to give it a try,” she narrates.
As first-time groundnut farmers, Selina and her husband planted the seeds with hope and uncertainty. However, as days turned to weeks, their uncertainty turned into amazement as the groundnut plants thrived. Selina is optimistic about the harvest and plans to expand the farm under groundnuts, as groundnuts have proven to be well-suited to her farm’s conditions.
Being a full-time farmer, Selina emphasizes the importance of her land’s fertility. She practices crop rotation to not only conserve soil health but also to keep pests under control. She alternates between maize, green grams, sorghum, and sweet potatoes—a practice that has been successful, leading to continuous good harvests.
Through the IMPACT Program funded by Bayer Fund, the construction of an irrigation canal provided Selina and fellow farmers with a lifeline, allowing them to water their crops even during prolonged droughts.
Beyond irrigation support, the Program offered valuable training on irrigation techniques, water management and the provision of certified seeds, including those of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Moreover, farmers like Selina received essential training in agribusiness skills, further empowering them to succeed in their agricultural endeavors.
Story by Dominic Kosgei, Communications Officer, PanAfricare Kenya