When I visited Yusuf Kassa in Sagarte Location in Marsabit Central at the tail end of February 2014, he was just starting to harvest his maize and beans crop, and was foreseeing a bumper harvest soon, unlike the usual meager production of weevil-infested grain. “I am expecting a very good harvest this time. In the last two seasons, I got a total six bags of maize, which was very good, but now am expecting to do even better. I think this time I will get at least 10 bags,” said Yussuf during Adeso’s visit.
Living in Kenya’s Marsabit County, 34 year-old Yussuf cultivates a two acre piece of land that he inherited from his parents. He is keen to ensure that he can earn enough income from his farm’s production to pay for his children’s education, having dropped out of school himself because his parents couldn’t afford to pay school fees. To meet his family’s basic food requirements, Yussuf also keeps a small herd of cattle and goats in his homestead, which helped them get through the last drought.
As a member of the Dakabaricha Self Help Group that was formed in September 2013, he received training and support from Adeso’s Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands – Improving Resilience (REGAL-IR) project. Yussuf joined the group in order to access credit and to get training on how to improve his farm. So far his group has been trained by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on environmental conservation and by Equity Bank on how to do savings. Like other people in his area, Yussuf had never used improved seeds, instead relying on the traditional seed selection method: keeping the best seed harvested for the next planting season. Through this USAID-funded project, Adeso matched the contributions of the community group to allow them to purchase improved seeds from neighboring Meru County. “Before, our maize did very poorly and our beans were always infested with weevils, but after the introduction of fast maturing and drought resistant seeds to our community, we’ve found out that these are very good”, he said.
Although he has just begun harvesting, Yussuf already sees some significant differences. Yussuf said, “With the traditional varieties, I got one good cob from the maize stork, but with DH04 I am seeing two good cobs, and that means I am going to get almost double the produce I got from the previous season’s harvest.” He plans to keep the maize for his domestic consumption and only sell the beans, to cater to his family’s basic needs as well as pay his children’s school fees.
Yussuf Kassa is a member of Dakabaricha Self Help Group comprising 260 people from Marsabit Central. The SHG was formed in September 2013. This activity is supported under the alternative livelihoods support component of Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands –Improving Resilience (REGAL-IR) implemented by Adeso and its partners and supported by the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Feed the Future (FtF) initiative.