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Climate Change forces Tana River pastoralists to venture into farming

Pastoralists in Tana River County have begun venturing into farming following the effects of climate change that have had a negative impact on their livelihoods in the recent past.
Most of them have swiftly shifted to farming after losing many animals during the drought pandemic.
A visit to Santhama village in Tana Delta which is in the remote part but very fertile showed a combination of all communities doing farming though with much difficulty due to the inaccessibility of the area and high poverty levels.
Tana River County Woman Rep. Amina Dika chose to travel all the way to support farmers from 15 villages in the area with water pumps and pipes to enable them do irrigation.
Dika was also accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture who gave the farmers varieties of seeds to plant.
Mohamed Shobe, a resident of Santhama village revealed that he ditched pastoralism three years ago following the drought disaster that caused deaths to many of his animals.
 “My journey of farming began three years ago when the drought came and wiped all my cows, that is when I decided to change from pastoralism and ventured into farming,” he said.
Shobe has however faced many challenges because the area has no access roads from the main highway making it hard for farmers to transport goods after harvesting and even take tractors.
He said without roads, farming will continue to be difficult as they are facing it rough tiling land manually which they have to do for small farms.
During the drought, he said he lost over 100 cattle heads and now has four acres in which he planted maize, beans, and cowpeas.
Galgalo Molu, also a farmer from the same village, said as a pastoralist community, they resolved to begin farming to the extent that those who used to do farming are now buying the products from them.
“We began doing farming due to drought which forced us to change as livestock keeping was not promising.”
Molu said they were happy to receive their woman Rep who had brought water pumps and pipes for them to do irrigation.
He said past leadership never supported them in their remote villages but for the first time, the Woman Rep. has chosen to empower them.
“We thank her that she brought seeds and water pump machines; she is really supportive and she is around.”
Molu said Santhama has more than 10 villages with over 3000 acres of land that can be put under farming.
He called on the county and national government to come to their aid as the area has the potential to feed the entire Tana River County if well utilized.
On her Part, the Woman Rep. said she was impressed to see many pastoralists changing from livestock rearing to farming due to the effects of climate change.
“Traditionally, we have people who were pastoralists but climate change has driven people into farming and to us is a big advantage as people of Tana River because we have plenty of land,” she said.
Dika appealed to the Government and donors implementing climate change projects to consider Tana River County so as to help transform the lives of the locals who were committed to do farming but have few resources.
“Those organizations supporting projects of climate change should give Tana River County priority because we have been forgotten many times.”
She said Tana Delta in particular was vast with rich fertile soils which if well utilized the area could produce a lot of food.
Other farmers who spoke emphasized on the need for both the county and national governments to support them.
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