DRTEC Enhances Biodiversity Conservation in the Lake Bogoria Landscape
DRTEC's role in transforming lives through extension and community community engagement has not been easy during this Covid-19 pandemic. Most of the planned activities had to be cancelled or scaled down so as to adhere to the World Health Organisation containment measures. We had to invent new ways of carrying on with community extension, including the use of social media platforms, video conferencing facilities and mainstream media which farmers and other stakeholders have come to accept and appreciate.
During this pandemic era, agro-pastoralist and climate- smart agricultural groups in Baringo South, which are funded by the Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP), made significant impacts in enhancing their livelihoods and conserving their environment. This was made possible with the support of the Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN). For the past three years, KOAN and DRTEC have been strategic partners in spearheading livelihoods improvement and biodiversity conservation within the Lake Bogoria Landscape. Using knowledge and skills acquired during trainings conducted at the Chemeron DRTEC, the farmers established over one thousand acres of pasture fields using Buffel grass, Cenchrus ciliaris. This pasture grass is now branded the “Saviour and Gold” of Baringo owing to its growth patterns, drought tolerance, and high productivity. The farmers have proceeded to do value addition to the harvested grass through baling and mixing it with other nutritious plants and supplements. The value-added pasture has been shown to enhance livestock production and it safeguards against losses during extended dry periods characteristic of this semi-arid lands of Baringo.
These pasture and livestock production activities have seen a significant and active participation and engagement of women, youth and persons living with disabilities. The participation of these groups, which had been marginalised from such economic activities in the past, has brought about an increase in household incomes as well as conserved the environment.
In partnership with Seeds Savers Network, DRTEC staff have in the last one year trained over 200 farmers on climate-smart agriculture, specifically focusing on tree nursery establishment, agroforestry, and production of indigenous vegetables (spider plant, amaranths, and black nightshade) and cereals (finger millet and sorghum). Using GEF/SGP funds, the farmer groups have established two- acre demonstration plots, bulking, and storage centres within the Lake Bogoria Landscape. Widespread adoption of the aforementioned pasture and climate-smart agriculture technologies will lead to improved livelihoods and enhanced biodiversity conservation.
Director, Dryland Research Training and Ecotourism Centre (DRTEC)