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Crop diversification transforms live of a farmer

Linah at her root crops plot

Diverse seeds access has become a limiting factor in enhancing crop diversification.Hundreds of farming households in Baringo are entangled in this scenerio and  depend on maize for food security and their economic livelihood. Maize seeds has not been enough in recent times due to increase of maize farmers’ population and focus of seed production  has been on white maize.

Linah kiptek has been a farmer long enough in sandai area in Mokokwa village and a member of Emkwen women farmers group. Her 2 acres garden used to have maize crop in and out of year and after harvest the garden would be turned into grazing fields for her livestock. Linah has been struggling to get access to traditional seed varieties such as cassava, sweet potato, pigeon peas,  millet and others adapted to her area in vain.

This is because the seeds are locally  unavailable and not stocked in agro-shops.Fortunate enough, Linah got an opportunity to meet Seed Savers Network team as they visited Emkwen women group  for training in Sandai of which she is a member.She was more interested in crop diversification topic since she needed to plant crops that will be supplementing each other all seasons.She learnt that crop diversity is important in case of crop failure.In her village  mono-cropping of maize has been the order of farming.

After training, she became one of the beneficiary of free  planting materials;seeds,vines,cuttings and suckers.She got cassava, sweet potato, millet, cowpeas, vegetables (kales, spider plant, black night shade amaranth) and pigeon peas. She also learnt on seed extraction and since her area is known for paw paw production she was able to extract her own seeds. Linah went straight to her farm since this was during rainy season and planted them using manure from her goats pen.

Currently she is able to provide diverse vegetables to her family and also gaining profit from sale of mixed vegetables to market vendors and neighbors. Some of the money she gets goes to merry go round which is now not a struggle to get for her weekly women chamas.

Linah at her vegetables plot harvesting them for her customer and family

“I am very grateful to Seed Savers Network I can see the benefit of crop diversification.My  4 children and husband feeds on chemical free and different varieties of vegetables,root crops and still I am waiting for pulses(pigeon peas and cow peas) to harvest and multiply more. I would advise other group members to plant different crop in their garden and am sure they will not regret. Am now a happy farmer and my garden is full of diverse  vegetables, cereals,pulses and fruits.” she says