How 25-Year-Old is Transforming Desert Land to Food Farms
8 years ago, Kenyans came together in the most humbling campaign to save humanity by providing food for Kenyans suffering and dying from hunger in the Northern parts of Kenya. As the campaign served its purpose, a 25-year-old lady has a long term strategy that could ensure food Security and avert such a crisis in the future.
Racheal Ngina is a final year student at Egerton University studying Agribusiness Management. Her studies have given her the opportunity to travel to Israel, where she took an internship at Arava Desert in 2018-2019. During this period, she was engaged and involved in understanding agricultural techniques that she says would be a game changer for Kenya.
“I was surprised to see Israelis producing food and even exporting the excess because climatic conditions there are too harsh as compared to any part of Kenya. This had me thinking, if they can grow food in these conditions, why are our people in Turkana dying of hunger yet the conditions here are not as bad as compared to Israel?”. Ngina narrates.
Determined, she came back to Kenya after completing her internship and went to Turkana to take up the challenge head on. She became a volunteer at Furrows in the Desert (FID) project for 6-months as a trainer.
Furrows in the Desert (FID) is a community-participatory joint agricultural program in North Turkana. It builds capacity for locals to create greater food production for food Security and employment opportunities through sustainable agriculture.
“Persuading a semi-nomadic community that heavily relies on aid to utilize their own land and grow their own food was almost impossible. Rejection was an expected challenge. Giving up was not an option because the only way to deal with food inSecurity is not to give people ready-made food, but to teach them how to produce their own food.” Miss Ngina notes.
As a trainer, she had to train the people of Turkana about drip irrigation, and thanks to the FID program, they have fully equipped the community with skills on production of their food from nursery bed preparations to post-harvest management.
A desert is in the mindset; production can be done anywhere. These words are a testimony of the success Racheal has achieved through the production of crop variety like dates, vegetables, onions, mangoes, pumpkins, etc. in Turkana. “Some of the trainees claimed they had never seen seeds or planted anything in their lifetime. Now, I live by the mantra
There is Money in Soil and I have proof to back it up. Turkana”, said Miss Ngina.
Today, she takes pride knowing that the people living in Lobur, Kibish, Lodwar, Maisa, Katangon, Nariakotome are healthy, happy and their kids have access to food and markets are opening up with opportunities.