Almost arid rocky and nestled among acacia trees and dry land shrubs, baringo county has always hit the headline following drought and depending on other counties for food supplies. The dominant actors for seeds are the bulking agents who provide seeds and still they are the source of seed market for the producers in this case maize. But amid the threats of desertification, farmers are overcoming the odds by seed saving.
More than 200 farmers in Loboi and Sandai area of Baringo were provided with seeds by seed savers for multiplication. This was an event which were graced by more than 50 groups of farmers. They were provided with seeds of Kales, spinach, tomatoes cucumber, cassava, cowpeas, green grams, pigeon peas, sweet potatoes, black night shades, pumpkin, sorghum, millets, amaranths, kales and many other seeds. The groups represented had a bulking demo site where seeds were to be multiplied first.
They received different seeds for different groups to enhance future multiplication and seed exchange and still learned on ways of production and pest control. So far the impact has been seen with farmers consuming locally produced vegetables, seed saving, and profit gain by sale of either produce, seeds or both.
Emkwen village, is a village in Baringo county Loboi location and inhabited by farming community. The farmers here grows mostly maize which is the only crop that covers almost all of their land while the rest of the land is covered by forest shrubs. This means that monoculture farming of maize is the only farming the farmers around here know. This is because they can access the maize seeds from Kenya Seed Company which after harvesting sells back every seed they produce to the same company. This leaves them with no food but some money which is not enough to buy food throughout the year and as they quote “we only do farming because we are at the farms but not because of the profit we get”.
Emkwen farmers group meets every Thursday to do table banking and share ideas on farming .This group started seed saving training in August 2019 after meeting with seed savers extension officer during a project launch in Kiborgoch , a conservancy in their area where seed savers were invited. Seed savers provided them with seeds of tomato which they aspired to be multiplying. The group started seed saving with the first harvest of tomatoes which were bulked in one demonstration garden.
Miriam Kimogor is one of the officials of this group and she is 76 years old. Her homestead sits in one acre of land where she lives with her husband 6 children and 3 grandchildren. She offered her farm as a demonstration garden for tomato production. Her family depend on this farm for their daily meal. Miriam testifies how seed savers has greatly impacted their home health and income.
Through the sale of tomatoes at farm level she has been able to keep her family it has also reduced the number of times the grand children are sent home for school fees, she says she has learned a lot from Seed Savers Network on how to raise seedlings, manage pest and diseases and how to maintain soil fertility. Her family can now eat healthy since they can purchase other vegetables of which they also aspire to grow from seed saving as she has seen is possible. She hopes to produce more and more vegetables as she has received more from Seed Savers Network. Miriam can now comfortably plant tomatoes anytime as she has saved enough seeds. She also sells to other farmers during events and far neighboring villages which she says is profitable and has brought her out of the abject poverty she had experienced before.
“Seeds are expensive but now farming has been made easy through on farm seed saving and come next time you will see the diversity in my farm” she quotes. The other group members benefitted from this training and they have started to save various seeds starting with tomatoes, and also they sold 10 crates of tomatoes which gave them 40,000ksh which they divided amongst themselves.
This also helped them in school fees and other home expenditures. So far they have seen the impact of seed saving and they will continue to save seeds and teach other farmers.
Amongst other beneficiaries is Locholota women group, the group is located in Sandai a land where Prosopis Juliflora, a noxious drought- tolerant shrub almost cover the whole area. The groups received black night shade, amaranth and cowpeas. They bulked at one of their members land and the outcome was excellent. They have so far saved the seeds and they continually consume the vegetables.
Grace Kamuren, the owner of the bulking site says that the seeds brought a big impact since they always had vegetables from market located at Marigat a small town located 27 km from their area and mostly they opted to take milk which is available since no other farmer in there nearby had vegetables .They can now sell vegetables weekly and are getting good cash
‘This is really a dry area and farmers do not try to plant vegetables but from us they will know it’s possible to grow our own. Per week we get more than Ksh.1000 and also we have all planted these vegetables hence our kid can now have clean vegetables free from chemicals and readily available”. Grace quotes.
The Programme have really changed lives for many farmers and. surely seed are the origin of life and this has made farmers to be food secure and nutritionally healthy