Farmers in parts of Kigumo and Kahuro sub-counties in Murang’a County have embarked on the construction of water pans in an effort of tapping and conserving runoff water to boost farming during dry seasons through irrigation.
The farmers for a long time have been battling with runoff water which has caused land degradation in their farms through soil erosion.
Some farms in slopes of Muthithi location have developed gullies leaving the farmers with reduced pieces of land where they cannot produce high yielding crops.
Through the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP), a section of farmers has been facilitated to construct water pans and tap runoff water.
In the programme, the farmers also got assistance to build gabions across formed gullies in their farms to prevent soil erosion.
NARIGP which a World Bank-funded project in partnership with Murang’aCounty government has set aside Kshs. 20 million to help in the programme dubbed Sustainable Land Management.
According to NARIG Programme Coordinator Regina Thamaini, analysis of farms in many parts of Murang’a County show there is a lot of land degradation.
Many farms, she said have been yielding minimal yields leaving farmers without livelihoods saying the need for boosting agricultural productivity has informed concerted effort to manage land in affected areas.
She observed that they have engaged more than 1,200 farmers in Murang’a and among them, 140 water pans have been constructed to tap runoff water.
“In Saba Saba sustainable land management group, we have constructed 80 water pans and in parts of Kahuro we have done another 60 pans. The process of doing more water pans is ongoing,” said Thamaini when she visited the farmers.
She added that in the programme, NARIPG has employed youth to help the vulnerable and aged people to make the water pans.
“Kshs. 6 million out of the total Sh 20 million will go to wages to youth engaged in constructing water pans for the vulnerable people. We encourage the young people to utilize the earned money prudently by investing in small projects,” she added.
In the programme, she added that they have been giving farmers incentives through distribution of fruit tree seedlings to plant in their farms.
“Conserved water has helped some farmers to start irrigation farming and this has enabled them to have some livelihoods as well arresting the problem of land degradation,” she further said.
A farmer from Muthithi area, Amos Irungu said he constructed a water pan at the beginning of this year and currently he has been farming vegetables.
Irungu said the water pan tapped water from road runoff and so far the project has enabled him to earn money on a monthly basis.
“The 50, 000-litre capacity water pan, I have also put fish and I hope in near future I will be selling fish to local residents,” he added.
Another farmer, James Mbau said he is in the process to complete constructing his water pan saying his farm has been affected by soil erosion.
With the availability of water, Mbau said he will embark in commercial farming and especially venture in fruit farming which has more returns.
He lauded the ministry of agriculture through NARIPG for supporting him to manage his farm and in construction of the water pans.