The biggest challenges they face are the high cost of farm inputs and exploitation by middle men who offer them low prices for their produce.
The farmers lack the knowledge and the support to employ modern techniques of farming, resulting in crop failures and poor yields. Those who manage to get good harvests sell their produce to aggregators who dictate the prices.
The farmers lack refrigeration facilities to preserve their produce to enable them fetch better prices in the market.
When it rains elsewhere, especially in the slopes of Mt. Kenya, Tana bursts its banks and floods the entire area under cultivation. The farms become inaccessible and the produce is left to rot in the fields.
The area is also infested with parasites that the farmers are unable to control. While the people of the North are not known for farming, these challenges have made farming even more unattractive.
It is against this backdrop that Solargen Technologies Limited, a leading energy, water and irrigation solutions provider, recently set up its regional headquarters in Wajir to offer farmers integrated solutions that comprises irrigation technologies, production planning, training, financing and market linkages.
In the pilot phase, Solargen will design and instal solar-powered drip irrigation systems for 40 farmers on Pay As You Go (PAYGO) financing model.
The system will enable the farmers harness solar energy to power their water pumps instead of using costly diesel- powered generators while the drip irrigation will ensure optimal use of water.
The pilot phase is targeting farmers with over three acres of arable land and a source of water, either from the river or underground. The farmer selection process is currently ongoing.