In Kenya, the horticulture sector is crucial in ensuring food security, the generation of jobs, and reducing poverty (Agricultural Sector Coordination Unit [ASCU], 2011). A majority of Kenyan producers who engage in some sort of horticulture agriculture rely heavily on the sector for their food security and family earnings, and it both, directly and indirectly, supports the livelihoods of over six million Kenyans. However, the inhabitants residing in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands cannot enjoy these privileges since the potential for horticulture output in these areas has not been properly harnessed. (Ministry of Agriculture, 2010). This is because most agricultural activities in Kenya depend on rain, and the arid and semi-arid regions do not receive enough of it to allow sustainable rain-fed farming.
In order for agriculture to tackle the food security issue in these arid lands, strategies have to be put in place to address the high levels of poverty among small farmers, the environmental degradation already occurring in these areas, and the worsening farming conditions brought on by climate change. This implies that some changes in how farmers currently farm will have to be made to address the farming challenges that exist in these areas as well as the fundamental issues of how production, social, environmental, and economic circumstances relate to one another.
Approaches have introduced various enhanced agricultural methods through improved technology, which is suitable for small-scale farmers in regions with limited water resources and extremely unpredictable climates. These digitized agricultural methods have been adjusted to suit the local conditions to combat hunger and reduce poverty in the rural areas as well as facilitate economical and social development in the dry lands. Ecosystem-based sustainable agricultural production methods that use inputs like land, water, seed, and fertilizer to assist natural processes that support plant growth, such as pollination, natural predatory behavior for pest management, and the impact of soil biota are being prioritized. This is because yields will be increased, input utilization will be boosted and the detrimental consequences of food production on the environment will be lessened. Elal farm which is under the AgriBiz program has also been a leading firm in horticulture in the arid areas of Kenya.
Moreover, awareness of conservation agriculture has been made among all farmers in the dry lands. This has entailed ensuring that farmers maintain a protective organic cover on the surface of the soil to reduce soil erosion, and degradation and increase the water retention capacity of the soil. Minimum or zero tillage is also being highly encouraged in the area and the cultivation of a broader range of plant species in rotations to improve crop nutrition and system resilience. These strategies have been supported by management techniques that use well-adapted high-yielding crop varieties, healthy soils and integrated pest management practices to yield the best results in terms of production.