Irrigation systems reduce effects of climate change for Kenyan farmers
Thika, Kenya, 15 December 2020 – Through a new commitment to Business Call to Action, Kenyan social enterprise MajiAgri Solutions Limited will enable 4,700 smallholder farmers to implement innovative water harvesting and irrigation methods by 2022, reducing reliance on rain-fed agricultural practices that are threatened by climate change.
Water harvesting systems can help farmers use sustainable water resources for irrigation, but the technology is poorly developed in many regions and has not yet reached most of its potential users. MajiAgri is filling the gap by targeting the more than 5 million smallholder Kenyan farmers, the majority of whom are women, by bringing the technology and training directly to the people who need it most.
MajiAgri designs water harvesting ponds to allow farming households to collect and reserve run-off from rainfall. The ponds include silt filtration systems and are lined with a leak-proof membrane to reduce seepage. Once households have collected the water, MajiAgri provides them with efficient irrigation systems such as drip kits or vertical gardens, as well as the agronomic training to maximize the value of their crops.
Because the cost of irrigation equipment would be prohibitive to most smallholder farmers, MajiAgri partners with micro-financing institutions to secure loans for its clients. In its first six test models, farmers were able to produce high-value crops even during the dry months, enabling them to repay their installation loans within two planting seasons.
In addition to supporting the livelihood of farmers, MajiAgri is committed to reducing poverty across the regions in which it works. The company sources local materials and hires 100 percent of its labour force for installations from the local market, with a particular focus on youth employment. For unskilled workers earning less than $1 per day through menial jobs or subsistence farming, the daily wage of $5 offered by MajiAgri makes a significant difference to their income.
“There is a growing demand for water harvesting and irrigation as farmers look for opportunities to shift away from rain-fed farming practices,” says Simon Wachieni, CEO of MajiAgri. “This is a model that could be scaled and implemented across Africa, where many other countries are seeking coping solutions for climate change.”
MajiAgri has made more than 120 installations to date, and projects that it will reach 5,000 farmers within three years. The company is also implementing a pay-it-forward framework in which 4,000 farmers will train 10 neighbouring farms each, bringing the principles of sustainable agriculture and irrigation to more than 45,000 smallholder farmers.
By 2022, MajiAgri projects that it will have placed irrigation systems for 10,000 acres of land, representing high-quality and secure food sources for more than 100,000 people.
“Climate change is an immediate and serious threat to sub-Saharan growing cycles. By providing reliable irrigation systems, MajiAgri will not only improve the livelihoods of farmers at the bottom of the economic pyramid, but also enhance food security and sustainable agriculture across Kenya,” says Luciana Aguiar, Head of Business Call to Action.
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About MajiAgri: MajiAgri Solutions Limited is a social enterprise that provides water harvesting, irrigation and agronomic solutions to support the more than 5 million smallholder farmers in Kenya. The company is currently undergoing startup acceleration at the Kenya Climate Innovation Center, with its water harvesting work being recognized as one of the best strategies for helping rural farming communities cope with adverse effects of climate change.
About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).