Improving Water Storage and Farm Produce Preservation
Lack of sufficient water for agriculture is a major hindrance to food security and poverty alleviation. Millions of farmers, especially in Africa depend on rain water for their agriculture yet this type of farming is being threatened by climate change.
This trend is no different in Mavoko Sub County. Flash flooding is increasingly becoming common in this area destroying numerous cultivated pieces of land resulting in spoilage of huge tracks of healthy farm produce.
Harvesting rain water may not only be useful in controlling flood waters but it also plays a big part in reducing scarcity of water for domestic use as well as for agriculture. Instead of letting the rain water go to waste during the rainy season, this water could be tapped and stored and used for irrigation during the dry season.
The young farmers at Daystar area, Athi River, have been having lack of sufficient water for their farms yet there is a seasonal river running right across their farms. The young farmers usually try to trap the water from the river by blocking it at some point on its downward descent in order to use it for irrigation but this water does not last for long. The hot temperatures of the area that may rise up to over 30° C quickly evaporates it leaving the farmers at a loss on what next to do with the healthy produce which begins to wither and die.
There is need to equip these young farmers with water storage/ catchment techniques such as construction of water pans and roof rain water collection strategies. This will increase their agricultural productivity, enhance their well being and propel them towards self-sufficiency.
Farm Produce Preservation
Poor handling of farm produce in the value chain of cleaning, handling and transportation results to losses of more than 40% of the produce.
In and around Athi River, especially in Mto wa Mawe and Blessed Harvest areas currently pack and transport their produce in bulk resulting to loss of produce and deterioration while on transit to the consumer. Because these two areas irrigate their farms using water from River Athi, they usually have bumper harvests through-out the year. Unfortunately a preservation effort of the produce is hardly ever taken leading to huge losses especially when flash floods strike.
Storage of produce in its dried form increases food safety form adverse weather conditions as well as preserves its content and reduces chances of it being contaminated by bacteria and bugs.
Provision of solar driers to farmers in this area may provide them with opportunities to create value added goods such as fruit bars, dried vegetables and tomatoes powder that could be exported and fetch more income to the farmer. Solar driers enable farmers to sell their produce in time of scarcity hence get better prices during off seasons.
Metal Silos are also useful on small scale, may be the 1 to 10 tons. Household Metal silos could also be introduced and placed in community land or land purchased by the farmers themselves where by other farmers could access them at a small fee. Provision for a threshing yard could also be made accessible at a small fee to other farmers. This will be an extra source of income for the young farmers.
Access to financial services to support maintenance of food storage and preservation equipment may also need to be enhanced through micro finance institutions.
Providing post harvesting processing and storage facilities to farmers is vital as it not only ensures sufficient supply of food for consumption but also increases the farmers’ incomes.