In Northern Kenya’s Laikipia county, farmers are faced with complex living and working conditions. Due to the shortage of water sources, the land’s difficult cultivation conditions and the lack of development of alternative activities, all exacerbated by the ongoing profound climatic changes, the region’s inhabitants do not have real prospects and are thus obliged to move to other areas of the country or emigrate.
Project objective: a series of initiatives will be launched aimed at strengthening the agricultural-technical knowledge of farmers, as well as developing a series of activities (tourism, processing of agricultural products, etc.) intended to increase the resilience of local communities.
770 direct beneficiaries of this project
Creating product processing supply chains
Developing tourism within the county
The soil is hard. Water is scarce. The little vegetation there consists mainly of weeds. Farmers are struggling to get by. They try. They really do try. With great effort and very little results, they try to draw sustenance from the unrewarding soil. They even try to get together to create small businesses and take advantage of the few available resources to raise their income. But everything is so hard. Northern Kenya is not an easy place to live and work in. And it is here that CELIM, in collaboration with Ipsia, has launched a project to support agriculture and relaunch activities aimed at integrating the farmers’ incomes.
The project takes inspiration from the principles of permaculture, a method for designing and managing man-made landscapes so that they can meet the needs of the population — such as food, fibres and energy — and at the same time feature the resilience, wealth and stability of natural ecosystems. The goal is to increase the agricultural production and the profitability of entrepreneurial initiatives of 770 farmers, while increasing their resilience in the semi-arid areas of Laikipia.
What actions will be implemented? First of all, farmers will be trained. Ad hoc courses will be organized to help farmers learn the cultivation techniques that are most effective in an environment as difficult as that of northern Kenya. This, however, is not enough. The project also envisages delivering suitable equipment, improving access to water sources and supporting processing chains suitable for arid climates. Therefore, as well as the techniques of beekeeping and aloe and prickly pear cultivation, farmers will also learn how to produce honey, jams and essences that will guarantee them additional income.
The project’s focus will be the prickly pear cactus. Considered a dangerous weed for the herds by the Masai populations, this plant has however many qualities. Opuntia ficus-indica — this being its scientific name — is rich in minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus, as well as vitamin C, and therefore has a very high nutritional value. Its fruits, called prickly pears, are the plant’s most valuable food resource; in addition to being consumed fresh, they can be used for the production of juices, liqueurs, jellies, jams, and sweeteners. Even their leaves can be eaten, either fresh or pickled, candied or as a jam. They are also used as forage.
The project will also aim at strengthening the tourism sector; in this respect, the Laikipia county has great potential. Its pristine flora and fauna (buffaloes, elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos) can be exploited for individual or group sightseeing tours. Enthusiasts can also go bird-watching to observe rare species that are little known in Europe and North America. The county also offers a great variety of cultures associated with the different ethnic groups that inhabit this area. An interesting project would therefore entail creating tours that enable participants to come in contact with the different communities. The project will try to give priority to environmentally-friendly methodologies, at the same time respecting the territory’s resources.
The project aims to support mixed farming groups in the Laikipia county, an arid area of northern Kenya. Specifically, it aims to assist 770 farmers by helping them build agronomic skills, improving their access to water sources and creating alternative income opportunities other than cultivation (tourism, processing of agricultural products, etc.). As project partner, CELIM contributes by:
All actions favour environmentally-friendly methodologies and have a positive impact in the fight against desertification, as well as the protection of local resources.
Farming the future
Davide Bonetti, [email protected]
September 2019/April 2023
Università degli Studi di Milano –
Dipartimento di Scienze per gli alimenti, la nutrizione e l’ambiente
to buy new tools for the farmers
to support a farmer's training course
to help build hydraulic works
to support the cultivation of prickly pear and the processing of its fruits