Kenya: The Reality Of Agriculture In Kilifi

My visit to Kilifi County early April 2015 came with a rude shock.

I have been here for four years undertaking my degree studies, and have come to terms with the varying climatic conditions and the areas socio-economic set up. In these four years, I witnessed varying rainfall patterns, some lasting at least three days. In some circumstances, the heavy down pour would soak many of my classmates who resided outside campus, some would miss classes while others would crash in their friend’s hostels. The rain was one of the reasons I would fight tooth and nail alongside well fed gentlemen for a room in the campus. When it was not raining the intensity of the sun would make one think twice before coming out of one’s accommodation. The sun’s intensity has been attributed to the lifestyle of the coastal communities; they are perceived as slow individuals who would prefer going to the beach, rather than work in the farms. Well who can blame them if the sun is that hot and the soils can hardly support agriculture and therefore need more work to improve fertility and water retention capacity.

My recent visit made me come face to face with even more issues than just climate; I realised that gender, land ownership and control of food production resources are the leading issues that affect food availability in this county.

Kilifi County has been named one of the poorest counties in Kenya, despite its potential in agriculture. For a while now they have been depending on tourism and fisheries but this synergy is the most unstable and at the moment it is as good as dead. Tourism has been affected by insecurity in Kenya. While fishery on the other hand faces the tragedy of the commons and it is now a dwindling resource that is unable to support the growing demand of the population this is reflected by the size quantity and price of the catch availed in market places.

Gender as an issue affecting agricultural production is highlighted by the fact that farming is left to women. Physically, a woman is feeble compared to men and therefore may take more time ploughing a farm leading to little production. Time taken to till land that will feed a family of more than eight members is a lot, this gives rise to wide spread ignorance (lack of information on a certain topic) amongst women on the issues of farming. These women farmers are unable to get a hold of information on new and improved farming techniques that could scale up their yields. Most of the land on the other hand is communally owned, which deprives the farmers (women) control over this vital resource. Apart from lacking control over land resources, seed is another resource they have to queue and beg for to have. Water, fertilizer and other agrochemicals are out of reach and distribution is biased. Once again climate change has not spared these women. They have to find ways of using the little rainfall the heaven provides, and continue to defend their small plots of land from desertification, which is creeping up on their land fast- considering their location on the Arid and Semi-Arid Land.

 

 

 

I am an environmental scientist graduate of Pwani University Kenya. I have five years accumulated experience in matters Environmental Management and Conservation. My work has seen me travel far and wide hence my knowledge in a wide range of fields including project management and planning, community culture and data management. I was introduced to writing when I interned as the co-editor with Environment Liaison Centre International. I recruited and proofread articles from prominent writers in the field. I contribute blog posts to Rural Reporters a site that attracts readership worldwide. Communicating contemporary issues that affect lives add to my passions in writing. Intersections between the planet, individual lives and sustainability cannot be ignored. When interacting with people from all corners of the world, I make sure to capture a story which I jot down and share with my fans on social media. I have had several accomplishments in project management and planning on Education for Sustainable Development which integrates children into conservation. With proficient data management skills from Kenya Wildlife Service at the Mombasa Marine Park and Global Vision International on terrestrial and marine habitats and their biodiversity, I can translate raw data into simple information for public consumption. I interned with Climate Action Programme for schools and the youth and Environmental Liaison Centre International as a co-editor graduate trainee where I was part of project implementation in ecosystem management and giving information on alternative livelihood sources in semi-arid areas of Kenya.