byVandana Thottoli via web
Mbaruk cluster within Gilgil sub-county of Nakuru is an area that has seen some good agricultural practices over the years and has potential to become a leading producer for horticulture crops. The challenges of irrigation is however still exist in the area, with the exception of some lead farmers who have started rainwater harvesting.
Mr. Bernard Mwenja, associate chairman of NASFA (Nakuru Smallholder Farmers Association), organized the site visit to his farm in Mbaruk cluster. Mr. Mwenja provided a brief history of the area and introduced other farmers in the area.
This visit was well attended by both farmers as well as IAP stakeholders - Egerton University, SNV, Bio-vision, Seed-savers, ward extension workers etc.
Some insights into the farming practices in the area: • Mr. John Kimani is a member of the Kiambogo relief water project. He has two boreholes. His mode of irrigation is by a watering can. • Mr. Francis Ngure is a member of Kasambara Water Harvesting group initiated by NALEP. He has 10 water pans which lack liners. He insisted on the importance of training on water harvesting and the introduction of drought resistant crops. • Daniel Gitau, a young farmer, tried tomato farming but water scarcity was a real problem. He stated that young people were interested in self-employment especially in farming but water scarcity and inconsiderate use of existing sources was the main challenge. • Mama Wambui highlighted that she had planted 100 banana stems which dried because of water scarcity. • Mark Kimongo from Eden farms had 5 greenhouses under drip irrigation. He also irrigated his pasture. He wanted more training on good agricultural practices that saved water.
Other issues raised by the farmers include: 1.The residents had an existing dam which burst. It had a potential of providing water to 4000 families. 2. The soils in the area were infertile and shallow which led to a lot of evapo-transpiration and seepage.
Mr. Mwanjala the Chairman of the area WRUA explained the role of the WRUA, and what the farmers along and close to the rivers ought to do to maintain and preserve water catchments and unblock blocked rivers.
Victor Gitonga from the SWA program answered a few questions raised by the farmers on the issues of water abstraction, conveyance, and application technologies. He also elaborated on the various pan liners available in the market, showcasing some of the liners samples he bought with him.
After the meeting, the group proceeded to visit Mr. Mwenja's farm to see some of the smart water solutions on his farm. This helped the farmers to see the best practices and work towards improving their irrigation practices on their farms.