In Kenya’s Tana River District, both pastoralists and farmers suffer when there is drought. Many of the indigenous communities grow maize, beans, mangoes, and various traditional vegetables. Lacking an irrigation scheme, the famers often find their crops succumbing to the harsh climate.
A Feed the Future program in Kenya’s drylands, implemented by USAID in conjunction with other strategic partners, has introduced local farmers to the idea of growing fodder during the rainy season and storing it for sale during the dry season. Fodder is both a profitable crop for smallholders and can be a lifeline for local pastoralists during periods of drought.
Since the program’s inception in 2011, over 5,000 bales of fodder valued at $30,000 have been produced by farms in the region that received fodder training through the program. As a result, household income and food security for families have markedly improved.
Jane Ayub is a local farmer and mother of three who belongs to the Jabesa Biskidera Association. The members of this association aggregated their individual plots of land to form Makindani farm. They started by growing traditional vegetable crops, but after Ayub saw a demonstration of fodder production on the nearby Kono farm, the Jabesa Biskidera Association integrated fodder production into their business as well. Ayub received training from the Feed the Future program and increased her household income from $2 a day to $60.
In October 2012, program hosted World Food Day celebrations at Kono farm. Ayub proudly displayed what she and her group had achieved. “Now I tell other members of the community how growing fodder can change their lives, especially the lives of women,” she says.