Farming in the dry Kerio Valley
Samuel and Rhoda Teimuge of Eldoret, Kenya have been part of Spirit in Action since the very beginning. As friends of Del Anderson, they advised him on the best ways to support economic empowerment in Kenya. They all shared a passion for promoting self-sufficiency and sustainability, especially in terms of growing food and rearing animals, and farming in ways that preserve soil health. As we welcome Samuel and Rhoda as SIA Emeritus Board Members, I share their latest adventures in farming. Here is Samuel’s update:
Mama Kigen (Rhoda)*, Timothy (my son) and I have moved to Kerio Valley, in the Rift Valley of Kenya. Tim is training on becoming a young farmer, taking a course in Agribusiness. Mama Kigan is raising chickens, and we are planting pixie orange trees and growing vegetables. The area is in a very rural area between Iten and Kabarnet, to the east of Eldoret. It looks like we shall have short rains this year and the Valley is very, very hot.
The Teimuge's new home out in the Kerio Valley with the Tugen Hills to the east.
No one lives around us – only goats and cows. This area is actually a grassing field for grazing. People come in the morning to release their goats, then they go back home until evening when they come to lock them. Our property is fenced with chain link but even that, goats find ways of getting in. All the families live at the base of the hills because they get water from the streams flowing down. The water does not reach the lower valley where we are. The guy who sold me the land was frustrated by the lack of water. Right now we are continuing to water by hand.
When the community saw what we have done with our farm, they got motivated toward moving to this area. One by one they visited us to request water. I am careful not to induce them or tell them what to do. The best development has to come from them and this will last. We are encouraging them to clear the bushes and start to fence their properties.
In this area most people are only planting maize (corn), but some are now talking about planting mangoes, bananas, and paw paws (papaya). We have already motivated over ten farmers to plant bananas in the area. Yes the land is hard dry but with water it is soft and deep and also fertile ground. We are doing soil control so that when there are heavy rains, it does not pull away the top soil. (Watch Samuel’s video promoting vetiver grasses for erosion control.)
Thank you to SIA for funding a drip irrigation system, which will benefit the whole community. Timothy will play a role in helping me train others to use drip irrigation, so that more people can grow food in this valley.
*As a way to honor elders in Kenya, it is common to call someone Mama or Baba (Father) + name of their first-born. Kigen is the eldest child of Samuel and Rhoda, and so they are called Mama Kigen and Baba Kigen by their friends.