Improving Family Nutrition Through Vegetable Farming
33 year old John Moriso lives in Leshuta, Narok County, Kenya with his two wives and 10 children.
The drylands of Kenya including those in Narok, are mostly vulnerable to climate hazards. This has a great impact on livestock pastoralists and smallholder farmers who depend on rainfall.
“As a Maasai, livestock keeping isn’t just a means of subsistence, it is a cultural way of life,” says John. “My family and I did not have a varied diet and my children slept hungry on several occasions. The typical Maasai diet consists of milk and meat. Because they hardly ate vegetables, my children were malnourished and constantly ill. This motivated me to engage in vegetable farming, as I needed to expand their dietary options, besides getting an alternative source of income.” 1 out of 9 people worldwide are undernourished, and 1 in 3 children in developing countries suffer from stunted growth.
John acquired seeds from Narok town and started growing kale on his farm. Unfortunately, his sufficient plant farming knowledge led to poor harvests.
The tide turned in August 2018, when John joined other 18 trainees for a visit to Mopel farm in Kaijado County. “This exposure visit helped me to gain practical farming skills. I learned about land management, plant growing methods and livestock breeding which is beneficial as most us are livestock keepers. I currently grow spinach, cabbage and beans that I sell at the Leshuta and Naikarra markets. My fellow trainees and I are members of the Leshuta Entagotua Cooperative which engages is various farming activities such as bee keeping and cattle fattening. After the training and exposure visit we bought a collective vegetable farm that will not only benefit our households, but the community at large.”
The Kenya programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) facilitated the training on good agricultural practices. This initiative is implemented under the Mara Community Livelihood Improvement Project, with funding from Bread for the World. One of the goals of the project is to enhance resilient livelihoods and tackle food insecurity.