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Drought-tolerant crops help harvests double in Kenya

08 May 2013

Yields have more than doubled for drought-affected farmers in Kitui, Kenya, after Farm Africa introduced them to drought-tolerant varieties of crops.

We provided high-quality seeds for crops including sorghum, millet and cowpeas - and farmers have seen their yields rise from 119kg to 275kg per acre.

Farmer Paul and one of his childrenWith rains extremely sparse in Kitui in recent years, farmers have struggled to grow enough food to eat. These larger harvests mean that not only do they now have enough food to feed their families, they can also sell their surplus produce at market, bringing in valuable extra income.

“The last harvest was very good – I harvested enough for almost the whole year," Paul, a farmer with three children from Muuwo self-help group, said/ "If things continue this way I’ll be able to pay school costs for my children from my crops.”

Producing seeds

During last year’s rainy season, 206 farmers were trained to produce the high-quality seeds themselves. Each of these farmers has shared their seeds with a further six farmers, taking the total number of households in the area benefiting from the improved seeds to more than 1,350.

A Kitui farmer standing by some water conserving zai pitsThe improved seeds are far from the only change helping these farmers cope with drought. We’ve also shown ten champion farmers how to use soil and water conservation techniques, such as terrracing and zai pits, which help farmers capture some of the sparse rainwater to use to irrigate their crops.

These farmers then go on to train more local farmers – spreading Farm Africa’s lessons far further into the community than we could alone.

Water conservation

We've held six training days, demonstrating these water-saving techniques to local farmers and covering how they can add value to produce, such as baking sorghum and millet cakes, along with advice on packaging and marketing.

At the moment Kitui’s farmers, who have formed groups to improve their bargaining power, are able to sell their surplus in the local market. But they plan to expand their sales to other markets, including a potential deal selling grain to a large brewery company. Sales such as these help farmers earn more money so they can better withstand the effects of a changing climate.

Find out more about climate-resilient farming

More about our work in Kenya