Building Resilience: Pastoralists Bearing Fruit In Agriculture

Mandera, Kenya. Noor Haji Mohamud stands tall in his farm in Aresa Village, Mandera East Constituency. Enveloping him are green stalks of sudan grass trying to compete with his height. Clutching his walking stick, the father of 10 combs through the community land proudly assessing the flourishing plants of his farmers’ group.

Noor, a pastoralist has always dreamt of venturing into farming as an alternative income generating activity, but had no idea where to start. Life as pastoralist became unreliable due to erratic changes in weather patterns for the last decade, and it is during the drought period that he decided to embrace life as an agropastoralist.

“We had to find alternative ways to survive and the only option was venturing into farming”

Noor Haji Mohamud
Farmers like Noor plant sudan grass as pasture for their livestock

“The drought had become part and parcel of our pastoral life every year. Our livestock were dying in large numbers every drought season and we are now left with only few of them. If the drought had persisted, then we would be left with nothing for sure. We had to find alternative ways to survive and the only option was venturing into farming,’’ asserts Noor.

Due to recurrent drought periods in the Northern region of Kenya, the pastoral communities who make over 90% of the populace experience contraction of economy and loss of livelihoods. In 2018, Noor was one of the beneficiaries for a livelihood project by Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) funded by terre de hommes and BMZ which harnessed water from a nearby river for farming purposes.

Through the project dubbed Building Resilience at Community Level, a community-owned farm in Aresa Village along River Daua was put to use to encourage 50 farmers to increase their food and fodder production. The farm located on higher grounds from the river shields the farmers from floods which have been wreaking havoc every rainy season.

The farmers working in groups grow crops for subsistence and commercial use. Noor, with his group grows sudan grass, sun flower, watermelon, tomatoes, Sim Sim, maize and beans.

“With the help of NAPAD, we managed to prepare the land for farming by tilling, ploughing, fencing and planting…”

NOOR HAJI MOHAMUD
Noor holding a sunflower stalk from his farm he co-shares with his farmers’ group

”I was one of the 50 pastoralists who were chosen by NAPAD. We identified the land which we as the community would use. It was barren and idle land located 1KM from the river. With the help of NAPAD, we managed to prepare the land for farming by tilling, ploughing, fencing and planting,” explains Noor with smile.

NAPAD also provided farm inputs and seedlings to the farmers, held farmers’ field days and trainings for the farmers and Training of Trainers (TOT) on tree nursery and agroforestry management.

Training of TOTs on Agriculture on climate smart agriculture and best practices

”I was first trained on how to go about the farming since I knew nothing about farming. We were later given various crop seedlings such as maize, watermelon, tomatoes, sun flower, Sorghum, Simsim and many others to plant,” says Noor.

One of the farmers in Noor’s group harvesting sunflower

NAPAD also installed a Solar Panel which enables the farmers to pump water from the river to the farm for irrigation throughout without any cost or constraints. In addition the farmers received additional Diesel engines as alternative energy in case of weather changes.

Sunflower is growing in popularity in the region due to its oil-rich nature and lucrativeness

After months of hard work and constant struggle, Noor and his farmer’s group are now reaping the fruits of their labour. They are now making their first harvest after a spun of seven months, transporting trucks full of various varieties crops to the market enabling Noor to provide for his family.

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