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 Saturday 12 September 2009
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KENYA: Frederick Chepkwony, "Dependable water supply would transform my farm"

Photo: Jane Some/IRIN
Frederick Chepkwony near his potato crop
BURETI, 9 September 2009 (IRIN) - When he completed high school six years ago, Frederick Chepkwony chose a career in farming. Now 25, he owns almost 1ha on which he practises mixed farming in Bureti District in Kenya's Rift Valley province, an area unaffected by the poor rainfall witnessed in other parts of the country this year.

However, agricultural officials have urged him and other farmers in the area to redouble their efforts and maximise crop production during the El Niño rains, due from mid-September. Chepkwony spoke to IRIN about factors hindering his farming efforts:

"Apart from maize, which I grow on about a quarter of an acre [0.1ha], I have dedicated the rest of my farm to producing crops such as cabbages, beans, potatoes, pumpkin and chillies. I did this when I realised that maize required rainwater to do well whereas I can use borehole water for the rest.

"Right now my greatest impediment is a dependable water supply; I do not have a pump to help me make use of the borehole that I have dug; I am currently getting the water by lowering a bucket into the hole and pulling it up using a rope. I can’t rely on this system to be able to water the crops regularly.

"With a dependable water supply, my production would almost double; it fact it would transform my farm as I would almost double what I produce.

"Right now, for example, I get about 1,500 cabbages from [0.1ha] but I can only plant the vegetables on this patch because it is nearest the borehole. I would extend the acreage if I could water it adequately. As for the potatoes, I know I can get bigger sizes if I water them at the stage they need adequate moisture. As you can see, the potatoes I harvest from areas near the borehole are bigger than those further away.

"Marketing is the other challenge that small farmers like me face. If you go to the local market, you will find that most of the crops I produce are plentiful, so we end up selling them cheap to avoid spoilage. If the government could help us by assisting us in transporting what we produce to the areas that are now facing hunger then we would help reduce the food scarcity being experienced in those parts.

"I will continue farming as it is my main source of income for my family but without a dependable water supply and better marketing of our crops I am afraid our input in cutting hunger and starvation in parts of the country will be very little.”


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) Food Security


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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