How group in Lamu is using solar energy to change agriculture
Food security has been a conversation that has now become a global concern especially when we factor in the climatic instability caused by global warming.
Communities in Africa-rich food continent however are still grappling with food security, with stakeholders now striving to cut on food loss while at the same time maximizing on environment preservation.
According to a survey by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), food loss has greatly affected our region, adding that addressing storage is key in the attainment of food security.
In Lamu for instance, 80 percent of the people in Lamu West have been dependent on charcoal burning as the only source of income which is environmentally unfriendly and low income.
Speaking to Citizen Digital, Lucy Wangui, a farmer, narrated how she has had to change from charcoal burning to vegetable farming.
Wangui, who is also the chair lady of Msumarini Self Help Group, said that it was difficult in the beginning because no one believed it was possible to grow anything in the area marked as an arid semi-arid region.
In 2017 however, Wangui aided by WWF in a project dubbed Kigali, formed the group that would primarily rely on solar powered irrigation in a bid to counter charcoal burning.
“Through the intervention, which has been piloted in Kwale and Lamu Counties, we have seen farmers realize the value of sustainable agriculture in light of climate change threats. For farmers in Lamu, sustainable agriculture provides an alternative to charcoal production which is harmful to nature and people but was their main economic activity,” said Irene Mwaura – Project officer-energy and climate change, WWF-Kenya.
The group that now has 16 members has leased an acre with only half of it currently in use in the production of vegetables that the local market has now become reliant on.
“We plant vegetables on rotation, harvest sell and share out the profit among the members,” said Wangui.
While hailing irrigation as a better method of farming than the rainfall reliant farming, Wangui said that this has ensured consistent production and a more stable income.
“Solar-powered water pumps provide a sustainable and cost-efficient alternative to conventional water pumps. Farmers only have to rely on a free natural resource, the sun, to pump water,” said Mwaura.
The once dry land now pops with all the green around it and an everyday harvest from the group has now inspired the community to pick up farming.
“Everyday we have something that we take to the market. Compared to the Ksh.5,000 that we could get from charcoal burning, now we get a minimum of Ksh.100,000 monthly on farming,” said Wangui.
According to Lenos Katana from the Department of Agriculture Lamu County, the government has since embarked on plans to support locals to engage more in farming the administration has embarked on plans to support this change.
Additionally, the group has also engaged in massive tree planting saying that it is the lifeline of the future in matters agriculture and climatic change.