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Chickens give farmers new hope when the rains fail

For the two thirds of people in Kenya who rely on the food they grow and animals they keep, frequent droughts can leave many struggling to produce enough to feed their families.

Sabina, a 43-year-old mother of five, is one of the many being affected by the increasingly frequent droughts. She explains, “I farm a range of things including beans, cow peas and passion fruit but in recent years I have had lots of crops fail because the rains have been poor. I always hope when I plant that I will be able to get a good harvest but there comes a time when all hopes are lost.

“I feel very bad when I think of the money I will lose... It is painful but sometimes you have to make hard decisions, you sell whatever you have to make sure that you can feed your children.”

Hatching a new business

But farmers like Sabina can still build thriving farms even when the rains are unpredictable. And that's where chicken rearing comes in - instead of being totally dependent on good rains to produce a plentiful harvest, Sabina has been attending Farm Africa training sessions on chicken rearing so that she'll have another source of income if the rains are late or erratic.

"I have been keeping chickens for two seasons. Now I have 38 chicks and have separated four hens so they can lay more eggs.

“In addition to selling eggs, I have been able to use some for home consumption. Before I couldn’t afford to buy eggs but now they are part of our diet and are contributing to the health of my family.”

With her chickens supplying a steady stream of income regardless of the weather, Sabina can use money that she’d have previously used to buy food to invest in her business and pay her children’s school fees. And she's planning to rear even more chicks to sell to expand her business even further.