Title :Reclamation of Land Degraded by Prosopis Invasion for Sustainable Agricultural Production in Marigat Sub-County, Kenya
Audience :Farmers, Extension Agents
Category :Land Management
Marigat Sub-County in Baringo County lies between latitude 00 20’N and 00 44’N and longitude 350 57’E and 360 12’E. The altitudinal range of the Sub-County is between 900 and 1,200 m above sea level, and is generally hot and dry throughout the year. Rainfall variability is very high with an annual average rainfall of about 650 mm. Most of the rain falls within one season from April to August, followed by a prolonged dry season. The rainfall pattern is strongly influenced by local topography. Temperatures within the Sub-County range from 30oC to 35oC but can rise to 370 C in some months, with the hottest period being between January and March. Soils mainly comprise of clay loams and alluvial deposits.
Marigat Sub-County is arid and semi-arid in nature and covers an area of 1,678 km2. Inhabitants of the Sub-County are mainly pastoralists who keep large herds of cattle and goats. Due to overgrazing and harsh climatic conditions, by 1980 the land was bare and Prosopis juliflora was introduced to rehabilitate the area. However, due lack of management options, the species became invasive leading to; loss of grazing land, reduced pasture availability and loss of plant biodiversity. Prosopis invasiness is also aided by the fact that the species has a large seed bank in the soil, which enables it to regenerate in large numbers after every rain season. Prosopis seeds are generally dispersed by; livestock through dung, water especially run-off and people. Much of Marigat Sub-County is therefore vulnerable to new Prosopis invasions each year.
Communities in Loboi, Kapliping, Sandai, Cheptanyinyi and Araban locations of Marigat Sub-County have formed a farmer’s association known as LOKASACHA to help them manage Prosopis. The Association manages the invasion through; manual removal of Prosopis trees, and integration of other land use options such as crop production in reclaimed areas originally invaded by Prosopis. Prosopis does not survive in land under constant disturbance such as ploughing and weeding. Therefore, cultivation of crops such as vegetables, cereals and fruits has successfully been used to manage land once invaded by Prosopis.
• To reclaim, rehabilitate and manage land invaded by Prosopis for sustainable agricultural production.
• To improve farm income
• Increased land productivity with cereals production increasing from zero to ten bags of 90 kg per year.
• Increased farm income from Ksh. 10,000 (US$ 100) to Ksh. 150,000 - 200,000 (US$ 1,500 – 2,000) per year from sale of various farm produce.
• Created employment for farm workers and family members.
• Improved food and nutrition security.
• Reduced conflicts through adoption of zero grazing of cattle which are less prone to being stolen.
• Improved biodiversity through regeneration of indigenous tree species such as Acacia.
• Improved soil and water conservation through re-silting of gullies, construction of cut off drains and establishment of pasture grasses.
• Improved aesthetic value of land.
• Improved resilience to climate change due to crop diversification.
• The practice has been adopted by many farmers in Marigat Sub-County.
• Continuous uprooting of emerging seedlings avoids regeneration of Prosopis.
• Regeneration of indigenous tree species where Prosopis has been uprooted.
• Involvement of family members in the farming activities.
• With introduction of zero grazing system, animal manure will ensure sustained crop productivity through soil fertility maintenance.
• LOKASACHA is a registered farmer group that ensures continuity of community activities of controlling Prosopis invasion and provides a learning platform
• Undertake off-season irrigation when water from the government irrigation scheme has no competition. Irrigation is used to grow short term crops such as maize, beans and watermelon.
• Introduced zero grazing system and improved livestock breeds instead of free range grazing of local breeds.
• Re-silting of gullies and planting pasture grass to stabilize the gullies.
• Adoption of land use plan for proper land management and crop rotation.
• Irrigation is by gravitation flow through channels created during ploughing, saving on costs for irrigation.
• Unreliable water supply due to low and unpredictable rainfall.
• Inadequate capital for planned activities.
• Shortage and high cost of labour.
• Mango diseases.
• Re-introduction of Prosopis seeds from animal dung during grazing on land left fallow after crop harvest.
• Land invaded by Prosopis can be reclaimed and put under sustainable land management.
• Keeping improved livestock breed as opposed to local breeds can reduce conflicts caused by cattle rustling.
• Frequent ploughing of reclaimed land controls emergence of Prosopis.
• Woody material from cleared Prosopis can be used for production of charcoal and fuelwood, and for fencing as the wood is termite resistant.
• Prosopis when well managed through thinning, can provide fodder for livestock from pods.
• Income from the farm can be diversified through integrated farming activities that include crop growing, livestock keeping and fruit farming.
Reclaimed land from Prosopis invasion can be sustainably managed for various agricultural practices leading to improved farm income, food security and creation of employment.