Kajiado pastoralist adopts new modern farming technology
Kajiado Pastoralist are shifting from their old farming style of herding huge numbers of livestock in favour of a fruitful new technology of keeping sizable herds.
According to David Ole Riisa, a modern farmer in Isinya, the sizeable number of herds is much profitable and stress-free when it comes to availability of pasture and water.
Riisa told Kenya News Agency during an interview in his farm recently that changing weather patterns forced him to change his way of farming to adopting new technology.
He said it was not easy to make a bold move to start his semi-zero grazing where he had to downsize the herd of cattle from over 200 to only 10.
“After a series of perennial drought seasons that have hit Kajiado County in the past years I decided it was time to change my farming method from just being a pastoralist to a profitable venture,” Riisa told these writers.
The jovial farmer who does crop farming also utilises water from a community borehole for his drip irrigation farm, which he attested that he only need a small volume of water.
On the other hand, Riisa has water pans in his farm which comfortably harvests huge volumes of water during rainy season and can sustain both his crops and semi- zero cattle farming.
The modern farmer in the heart of pastoral community said many of his friends and neighbours have started copying his farming style.
“The only way to eradicate pasture scarcity and water shortage during drought season is to move from the old way of thinking cultural farming to modern technology,” Riisa attested.
He said it is still very challenging to convincing a ‘pastoralist’ to think modern farming since it is a cultural way of living.
The modern farmer said he did a lot of research in farming for several years before he finally decided to shed off from the huge herds to a manageable number.
“Today I plant about 5 acres of hay grass which can sustain my herd for several years and also for commercial which earns me quite good profits,” said Riisa.
Riisa noted that his major cash crops include onions and pepper which he plants on drip irrigation. “These crops are very productive throughout the season and there is a ready market locally,” he added.
However, Riisa appealed to the Government to support upcoming farmers, arguing that Agriculture was devolved yet pastoralists willing to practice modern farming are struggling on their own.
He alleged that he has since worked alone and has been forced to hire private agricultural extension experts for guidance in his farm.
“I decided I was not going into farming for trial and errors, but I chose smart farming from the initial stages which have enabled me realise better production always,” said Riisa.
He challenged the County Government to embark on sensitisation programmes that will enable pastoralists community to shift from a large number of herds to manageable sizes.
Riisa said there was the need to educate farmers and equip them with knowledge on crop production that will allow diversification in farming and widen opportunities.
The modern farmer said many pastoralists are willing to diversify their way of living as opposed to dependent on livestock alone, as climate change puts more pressure on large herds of cattle due to lack of pasture and reliable water sources.
Kajiado is among the arid and semi-arid Counties in Kenya which has been hard hit by drought for the last two years.
Most pastoralists continue to move from place to place in search of pastures and hundreds of cows in the County succumbed to drought in the past few months.
In addition, over 1,500 herds of cows belonging to Kenyan Maasai pastoralist community was seized and auctioned in September 2017 by the Tanzanian Government after they were charged with trespass.
By Nelly Kosgey/Albert Lemomo