How The Nogirwet Irrigation Scheme is Changing The Fortune Of Smallholder Farmers In Chebunyo Ward

Bomet County, located in the picturesque highlands of Kenya’s Rift Valley region, is home to a vibrant and diverse community of smallholder farmers. Agriculture is the mainstay of the local economy, and for generations, families have relied on fertile soil and abundant rainfall to produce crops and sustain their livelihoods. However, in recent years, the effects of climate change and erratic weather patterns have posed a significant challenge to farmers, leading to crop failures and food insecurity. In response to these challenges, the Bomet Integrated Food Security and Livelihood Project (BIFSL) was launched in Chebunyo Ward, Chepalungu Sub-County, to support smallholder farmers in the region to adopt climate-smart farming practices and increase their productivity through the Nogirwet irrigation scheme. This project has brought together farmers, community members, and stakeholders to work towards a common goal of achieving food security, economic empowerment, and resilience.

It is vital to have a vision of what you would like to accomplish anytime you begin something new and Amon Kipchirchir had a vision. He tried to grow a variety of vegetables on his farm but it always failed because he lacked water for his crops. One day he heard that Kenya Red Cross was giving banana and pawpaw seedlings, along with water, to farmers. He went ahead and received 1200 banana suckers and 30 pawpaw seedlings, combining this with the water he received, he was finally able to produce a bountiful harvest. Today, he has about 5,000 banana plants that bring in over 40,000 KSH per month. He also sells banana suckers to his community members at 100 KSH each.

‘I have seen the first seedlings do so well for me and my family and now I’m sure that these new seedlings that we are receiving will also do well.’ He said.

When he heard about the new batch of seedlings consisting of lemons, grafted mangoes, and grafted pixie oranges, along with an irrigation system, he was first in line to receive them. With his newly acquired 45 seedlings, he expects a fruitful harvest and the chance to bring more prosperity to his community.

Eunice Ketwan, an elderly woman, became aware of the project when the irrigation system pipeline was being installed on the farm adjacent to hers. She inquired about it and they explained the project to her, she was immediately willing to be a part of it and asked them to extend it to her farm. She received 45 seedlings which she planted and has the irrigation system working to keep her plants well hydrated.

As this project is working to improve the livelihoods of the community members, it ensured that every member of the community was a part of it. Women dug trenches as the men placed the piping system. The women were paid 600 KSH for every 10 meters they dug and used the money to improve their children’s diet.

The Kenya Red Cross Society, with funding from the British Red Cross, has been implementing the Bomet Integrated Food Security and Livelihood Project (BIFSL), a two-year-project that targets 617 beneficiaries, 517 for horticulture smallholder farming and 100 for poultry farming in Chebunyo Ward, Chepalungu Sub-County. This project has enabled farmers like Amon Kipchirchir and Eunice Ketwan to increase their yields and improve their livelihoods, while also promoting inclusivity. BIFSL is a model for sustainable and inclusive development initiatives that prioritize the needs and aspirations of local communities, and underscore the critical role of agriculture in achieving food security.

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Kelvin Njenga Digital Transformation Officer

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