By: Jo Siedlecka
A celebration took place at the Missionary Community of St Paul the Apostle in Turkana, north west Kenya recently when 18 trainees graduated from an intensive five-month agriculture course given by Israeli partner organisation Furrows in the Desert.
The students were trained from scratch, from preparation of compost and land, up to harvesting of watermelons, sweet melons, tomatoes, onions, squash and other vegetables and fruit. They were supported by members of SITFA (Saint Isidore's Turkana Farmers Association).
The 18 new graduates have now become members of this farmers association of Turkana North - the first of its kind. The chief officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and other County officials attended the ceremony.
Learning to farm will make a huge difference to the lives of these students. Traditionally, the nomadic people in this rugged, semi desert area lived from cattle herding, but the impact of climate change has caused a shortage of water and grazing lands, sparking tribal clashes. In order to promote peace, for many years now, the St Paul's Missionary Community has been building wells and rock dams and developing health, education, fishing and agricultural projects to help the pastoralist communities in the region settle, develop and adapt.
With the new farming skills gained on this course, these graduates will be able to feed their families and send their children to school after selling their vegetables and fruits.
This is the tenth year volunteers from Furrows in the Desert have worked in Turkana with the MCSPA. Watch a video about their work here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp2rRp3J9io
The MCSPA is supported by the UK-based charity New Ways. If you would like to make a donation to their work see: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/newways