Promoting Business Driven Conservation in Naivasha Basin
Small-scale farmers in the upper catchment of the Lake Naivasha Landscape are reaping handsomely from their good land use practices. For this, the large-scale farmers around Lake Naivasha reward them. They do this through a voluntary mechanism known as Payment for Environmental Services (PES) scheme.
By planting grass strips across the steep slopes on their farms and trees along the river-banks, they not only stop soil erosion but also increase the income from their farming activities. Moreover, this ensures clean and adequate water flows into Lake Naivasha- a lifeline of the horticulture industry of the area which employs tens of thousands of people, contributes 9 % of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product and generates approximately 3 % of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
Speaking during a function in June this year to celebrate the success in land and water management by the local people, Mr. Jaco Mebius, Senior Policy Advisor at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi said,
“ The Dutch Government supports the partnership between it, the government of Kenya, the Private Sector and the local people in water management in the basin. Water is crucial: it drives economic development, national and international trade and production. We will continue supporting the farmers through shemes such as PES so that they can earn more money by using better agricultural practices”.
Mohamed Awer, Director WWF Kenya said,
“ We should not think of it as people being paid for participating in sustainable land use practices but to engage in land use practices that respond to market demands so that farmers are able to get more returns by participating and conducting some of the practices that we encourage. For example we envision that this area will one day be all under dairy production and that the farmers here will enter into partnership with larger dairies whether they are local or international. So that they can earn so much from their small acreage. Then they do not have to wait for government subsidies or subsidies from the private sector. We want business driven agriculture in this area that responds to the markets. ”
“ WWF is targeting about 10,000 farmers. So far 3,000 farmers have been reached which is not bad considering this has happened for only 3 years,” said Mohamed.
Margare Ndia, one of the most successful PES farmers narrated how the program has changed her life ,
“ I use the grass strips to feed my cows and they produce a lot of milk which I then sell. From the incentives that we get I buy vegetable seeds, I plane them and sell after harvesting and all this has increased my income and enhanced my living standards,” she said
By Johnstone Mulary