The ex-warriors in the banditry-prone agro-pastoralist Lomut area in West Pokot are now being empowered by the Christian Impact Mission (CIM) organisation and National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) to advance their economic achievements through irrigated agriculture.
The region has traditionally been synonymous with cattle rustling as an economic activity but not anymore as the people have now substituted their guns for jembes, raking in thousands of shillings from agriculture.
The success story of farmers operating under the CIM organisation has inspired other pastoralists in the area to invest in agriculture.
The founder of the Christian Impact Mission Bishop Titus Masika cited that Residents known to be pastoralists who are reformed cattle rustlers have turned to new leaf plant planting vegetables, maize, cassavas, sugarcane, mangoes and other crops are proud that they can now see the light and forget the issue of cattle rustling
“The program that involves mobilizers and champions in community clusters has so far seen a drastic reduction of cases of cattle raids in the area,” said Bishop Masika.
Bishop Masika noted that the organisation started empowering locals through agriculture initiatives.
“The ex-cattle rustlers laid down firearms hence turned the focus on farms. This after going for an exposure tour and training at “Yatta” Transformational centre four years ago hence it has helped them out of hunger and drought after being educated on the suitable and sustainable mode of doing agriculture in arid areas,” said Bishop Masika.
Speaking at Lomut area while checking on the new farms, Bishop Masika said that the CIM Organisation has transformed residents in areas associated with banditry and Cattle rustling leaving a trail of blood and fear in its wake by engaging them in agricultural activities.
“Through the mindset change and alternative livelihoods small scale farming program has seen more than 1000 households across the wards in transformation initiatives geared towards food, water and social and financial security for regional security,” he said.
Bishop Masika says that they have started a commercial village model for agribusiness that comes in the background gains in these areas and the organisation as the lead agency seeks to champion it as a contributor to regional security and resilience.
Bishop Masika said that the program has enabled residents to have sufficient food and water supply and availability.
“We want to reverse the image of hunger into a supplier of food to the entire North Rift region to be suitable for farming in all sectors of agriculture,” said the Bishop.
The Bishop called on the government to open up roads in the area for farmers to be able to sell their farm produce.
“There is a need for cooperation among other stakeholders to reduce relief food dependency,” said Bishop Masika.
A farmer, Mr Andrew Nguriapowen Kuduu, cited that they are now benefiting from the fruits of engaging in farming.
“Cereal and vegetable cultivation has proved to be a wonderful investment in the region. The going was not easy after venturing into agriculture, a field that I had little knowledge about. At one point I thought of giving up, but I had no other source of livelihood for my family,” he said.
He said that the project dubbed Operation ” Tpu Kle Out” where farmers are now using the long-lasting solutions of digging small dams known as ” Silanka ” to fight perennial hunger, learning and practising modern farming methods in the semi-arid area.