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Kenyan Smallholders Band Together to Fight Drought, Boost Bargaining Power

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Smallholder farmers in a remote, impoverished region of Kenya are joining forces to cope with climate impacts that have wiped out about 80% of their recent harvests, forcing some of them to travel up to 20 kilometres to collect water.

“Many water sources have dried up,” SciDevNet reports, and “much of the water that is available is of poor quality, with some containing a high salt content, making it unsuitable for drinking or agricultural use.

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In response, the farmers formed a community-based organization and banded together to learn water and soil conservation techniques, deal with pests and crop disease, get better access to technology and crop storage, and negotiate higher prices for their product.

One of the reasons we started the CBO was because we want farming to be a business,” said Kathande, a farmer who helped found the group in 2014. “For some time, we have been growing crops that have not done well, so we have come together to work out what will grow successfully in this climate.

“We came together in a farmers group to unite so we can have bargaining power,” added Nzoka, one of about 100 local producers learning conservation techniques.

“With the right training and support being given, Nzoka and others in his community can become more resilient” to climate shocks, SciDevNet notes. “By increasing the amount they can harvest, they will be more able to feed their families and earn additional income from selling their surplus, which can be invested to further improve their businesses.”