Why Coastal farmers toil in perpetual poverty
Most people in rural areas of Coast region depend on rain-fed agriculture which has over time proven frustrating due to increasingly erratic season, thus making the population dependent on food aid. Majority of the residents depend on land, many as smallholder farmers who are affected by severe hunger and poverty throughout the year.
Farmers use outdated farming practices, lack adequate resources to buy critical agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and when crops grow, they are affected by diseases, pests and drought. Limited access to extension services, high cost of inputs such as seed, pesticides, fertilizer, drugs and vaccines has also been cited as causes of poor crop yields.
The region was famous for cotton growing in areas of Mpeketoni, rice in Hola, mango in Tana River, coconut and cashew nuts in Kilifi and Kwale county. Livestock farming in Taita Taveta, Kilifi and Tana River, sugar cane in Kwale and horticulture in Mpeketoni have also flourished in the past.
But poor roads infrastructure has hampered transportation of agricultural inputs and products. It also leads to spoilage of perishable commodities during transportation thus leading to high losses for farmers. Farmers have abandoned growing most of the cash crops and in many cases have uprooted trees for charcoal.