With three failed rainy seasons in Kenya, farmers’ livelihoods in the country’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) areas have been disrupted. Those who previously depended on farming and livestock keeping cannot do so. Crops have dried up due to lack of rain, and livestock have died due to lack of pasture. Communities, especially women and girls in these areas, travel long distances for water.
Despite the drought, communities who have interacted with our programmes, have become resilient and are benefiting despite the existing challenges. One of these persons is Annastacia Makete, a farmer from Kimunde, Kanzokea, in Kithuki Kitise ward in Makueni county. We took time to visit her and learn from her experience.
Annastacia Makete arranging bales of grass for her livestock.
As we walked to her homestead, we were welcomed by healthy-looking cattle feeding on harvested grass. Near her house was a poultry house; we could see about 30 chickens at their holding yard pecking on grains and others drinking water. Across, there were two donkeys and a herd of goats grazing. This painted a different picture from other homesteads that we had visited, and again, you wouldn’t expect to find all that in a drought-stricken area.
She welcomed us, and we proceeded to our discussion after exchanging pleasantries. Makete first interacted with our programme through one of our local partners KaKiKa (Kanzokea, Kithuki and Kanthuni). The partner had organized a forum to educate farmers on how to ensure their livelihoods are not affected by the drought. A team of trainers from ActionAid Kenya proceeded to educate them on various measures they could use to survive the drought.
As a livestock keeper, she was interested in one of the sessions that was educating farmers on how to grow grass, harvest, and store for future use. During the sessions, she sought more information on grass growing and was ready to try independently after several practical sessions.
“Through the information I got from ActionAid and its partner, I proceeded to grow grass during short rain periods. Luckily, the grass matured, and I harvested and stored it for future use. I engaged in grass growing as I envisioned succeeding in the initiative.” Stated Makete
“The pasture I harvested during my first-time planting did very well and was surplus to the point I started selling. Having been taught on storage, I stored enough for future use but somehow, I needed more information on commercializing the venture for more income. This necessitated more training.” She added.
“During the next session, we requested to be educated on how we could benefit more from the pasture. We were educated on bundling the grass in bales. The bundling assisted us in determining the prices to avoid losses. Initially, we could sell a bundle of grass at Ksh 350, but with information on baling, a bundle that would cost 350 is currently producing two bales out of it, which I sell each at Ksh 250, meaning from Ksh 350, we now get Ksh 500, a profit of Ksh 150 extra is realized. “Said Annastacia Makete
Growing grass has not only allowed her to provide pasture for her livestock, but it has also provided a source of income; she sells the surplus for an income. She uses the revenue to grow more grass and cater for her family’s basic needs, including paying school fees for her children.
Knowledge of grass growing has transformed her life. As she participates in solutions to the climate crisis in her small way through planting trees, she considers the climate discussion a top priority. She still hopes that a solution to the climate crisis will be realized.
Author: Ezra Kiriago, Communications Coordinator. ActionAid Kenya