Northern Kenya can feed the whole country and the world
Benjamin Franklin said, “There seem to be three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their neighbours.
This is robbery. The second is by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third is by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground…”
North Eastern Kenya was one of the regions in the country that experienced perennial drought. One proactive and sustainable option for insulating the region and indeed, the entire country, against the negative effects of drought is through large-scale investment in desert agriculture.
With the availability of labour and a virgin territory five times the size of Rwanda, there is no better place to experiment with desert agriculture. Some of the farm produce harvested locally already signifies the great potential for agriculture in the region.
They include lemons, bananas, watermelons, pawpaws, mangoes, tomatoes, kales, onions, cassava and millet. River Tana the longest in Kenya, snaking through Garissa County. Mandera is similarly endowed with the sizeable River Dawa. Though both rivers are underutilised, their existence however makes the prospects for an agrarian revolution in the region feasible.
But there has been a consistent failure to tap into large-scale farming in the region due to the long-held stereotypical thinking that North Eastern Kenya is a barren land that is not worthy of massive investment.
But following the success of agriculture in countries with similar, if not worse, soil and climatic conditions to northern Kenya, it is time to take a shot at agriculture in this commercially unexploited region.
For example, despite its dry lands and harsh weather conditions, Israel has successfully managed to transform its largely desert lands into lush green farmlands. Its Negev desert hosts fish farms and plantations of fruits and vegetables.
Similar progress has been reported in the Judean desert where farmers grow quality onions and basil. Egypt has used River Nile to grow fruits and vegetables on the Sahara. With good leadership and investment, the North can feed Kenya.