A trip to the fields in West Pokot and Vihiga counties was going to witness the progress and impact that has come with this intervention. Being a hot season of the year, the trip was characterised by long dusty drives, scorching sun and high temperature. However, the amazing views of the topography spiced the journey and it was worth it after all. OAIC as the implementing partner had an opportunity to accompany Dr. Hans Spitzeck and Jens Brenner from the Bread for the World, Germany, to witness and have a field experinece with the farmer groups in Vihiga and West Pokot.
The first stop was at Gabongi, where a 25-all women group (Jitahidi Women Group), promotes pure organic farming. They have acquired a one-acre demonstration farm where members are trained by the Farmer Resource Person on organic farming. The group is also encouraging its members to plant a natural herb ‘calliandra herbs’ that grow naturally and whose rich nitrogen content improves soil fertility as well as milk productivity for the dairy farmers by between 2-3 litres. Jitahindi Women Group has planted an indigenous sweet potatoes variety (yellow fleshed)that has high protein value. The demonstration farm has also been used for propagation of seeds that are distributed to members. Besides sweet potatoes, the group has planted bananas, traditional vegetables as well as ‘muringa’. These women group supports up to 63 dependants.
When a woman’s well being is improved there is significant change in the entire community. The existence and efforts made my Jitahidi Women has given rise to a 30 member youth group. This is in an effort to fight idleness among the youth by engaging into more engaging and economic geared activities.The youth are receiving training support on chicken and rabbit rearing and a demonstration house had also been set up for them, next to the womens’ demonstration farm for close monitoring.
Pokot Central, a place dominated by pastrolist farmers becomes the next stop for the visit. The community has over the years experienced severe drought season affecting even their livestock. Due to harsh climate changes, efforts to get pasture for their crops have born no fruit, losing large herds of cattle to drought and their children dying due to malnutrition related diseases. With the introduction of drought resistant crops like sorghum, millet, peace and vegetables (green amaranth) to the people of Pokot Central a better alternative has found its place in the community. They can boast of great harvest and afford to feed their families even 3 times a day with nutritious meals. They have been able to make better use of a river that flows throughout the year for irrigation. Previously, this river only served domestic functions like drinking and watering their animals.