Food and agriculture: Boasting food security while combating climate change

Mama Nelly smiling as she harvests a bunch of spinach vegetables ready for sale to a customer in Chakama, Malindi.

Mama Nelly also known as Mama Mnavu from Chakama, Malindi relies on irrigation farming to earn a living and provide for her family daily needs.

Her farming methods emphasise on moisture retention, crop rotation and use of organic fertilisers. Nelly farms cabbage, maize, tomatoes, Okra, brinjals, Butternut and array of vegetables ( Mchicha, sukumawiki, Mnavu) which thrive very well on the farm.

She was inspired to venture into irrigation farming after successfully practicing rain-fed agriculture for a period of time, but when she desired to continue farming, sadly the rain season was over. Mama Nelly smiling as she harvests a bunch of spinach vegetables ready for sale to a customer in Chakama, Malindi.

She says drought and delayed rainfall has negatively affected her vegetable farming and it is upon this background, that she was motivated to venture into irrigation farming after realising there is a big demand fresh vegetables as people shift to healthy eating in many homesteads. “If there is food in the house, then everybody is happy. If there is no food in the house, then your husband is angry. No one is happy. To me food is happiness, and it is security.” Says Nelly

Many buyers come from as far as Bamba, Malindi, Mariakani to buy fresh vegetables in bulk and sale in retail which is quickly bought within a short time. Her total sales emanating from sale of vegetables alone is Ksh. 5000 per day. With such kind of sustainable income she is able to meet her family basic needs and also expand her farming business successfully. “I cannot imagine how I would be earning income without irrigation.” she says.

Coast Development Authority has identified small holder irrigation projects as a way to improve food security in the face of prolonged droughts and increasingly severe floods facing Coast region. The projects increase food security through supply water for irrigation farming, livestock production and domestic use, thereby build the community’s resilience to climate change and improve their living standards. The Authority also capacity build farmers on good agricultural practices, catchment restoration activities, provide farm inputs, infrastructure development and help them form co-
operatives to aid in marketing their produce.