News and knowhow for farmers

Trenches enable Machakos farmer harvest run-off water

Banana Muia Kusenga By Laban Robert.JPG

As the long rain sea­sons starts, 83-year-old Muia Kusenga is re­mov­ing the ac­cu­mu­lated silt from the trenches to cre­ate space for col­lect­ing run-off water from the nearby road for later ir­rig­a­tion.

Kusenga, who has dug more than 10 trenches in his farm in Machakos County, says the water helps him in ir­rig­at­ing the fruits for about two months after the rains.

Be­sides, the trenches drain the ex­cess water into a more than 100,000-liter tank within the farm for stor­age.

“This is not just soil, but rich nu­tri­ent silt from for my grapes, lo­quats, avo­ca­dos, goose ber­ries, among other fruits. Even if the rains dis­ap­pear for one to months from June, I will be safe for an­other three months with ir­rig­a­tion from the trenches and the tank water,” he said.

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Leaves and other or­ganic mat­ter ac­com­pa­ny­ing the sur­face run-off water keep rot­ting for the en­tire dur­a­tion the water is in the 4feet to 5feet deep trenches. To­gether with the silt, the farmer says the or­ganic fer­til­iser is ‘con­cen­trated’ with min­er­als.

The trenches run end across the farm. They are in­ter­con­nec­ted at the ends so that after the first one is filled, the ex­cess water flows to the next one.

The small ‘Garden of Eden’, as he calls this farm, sur­vives through the dry sea­sons ex­per­i­enced in the semi-arid county.

In other shal­lower trenches, he has grown yams. Yams do well in wa­ter-rich soils. But he says the mois­ture that is within the trenches is enough to sus­tain the crops until har­vest­ing.

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There are more than 50 fruit vari­et­ies grown on this farm of about five acres. The co­lo­nial ex­ten­sion of­ficer said he learned from the Bri­tons that “lack of rain does not mean lack of farm­ing”.

The Kenya Met­eor­o­lo­gical De­part­ment has pre­dicted that the long rains may not be in­tense as pre­vi­ous years, but they will con­tinue until June this year.

Photo: Muia Kusenga with Fes­tus Mutemi. The farm has more than 10 trenches ans a tank that store water for ir­rig­a­tion for more than three months. Photo by Laban Robert.

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