Kenya farmers given green challenge

February 18, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18 – Farmers have been urged to adapt their farming methods to absorb the changes in climatic conditions.

Kenya Meteorological Department Director Joseph Mukabana outlined that they could use the information provided by the meteorological department to decide on which plants to grow.

The meteorological director pointed out on Wednesday that other than reducing the food shortage in the country, this will ensure diversity is maintained.

“If there is a shift in the weather pattern of a certain region, it should be known and this information can flow to the grass roots,” Mr Mukabana explained.

“If for example the rains are very little, you use drought resistant crops. There are other regions where we used to have cassava, millet, and people left cassava and millet and started planting maize when the famine came to such regions,” he further expounded.

Speaking to Capital Newsbeat, Mr Mukabana further attributed the recent irregular rain patterns to climate change.

“One of the issues of global warming is temperature rise, which we have also seen in Kenya. Sea level rise is there,” he said and further pointed out the impacts of climate change.

“We have also the lake levels going down and the streams drying up. Those are impacts which also play a role in shifting the weather patterns like we understand it.”

Mr Mukabana further said that the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to both climate change and variability correlated with changes in temperature and precipitation.

He pointed out that the resulting changes in land and water regimes subsequently affect agricultural productivity.

“Research has also shown that specifically in tropical regions, with many of the poorest countries, impacts on agricultural productivity are expected to be particularly harmful,” the director said.

“The vulnerability of these countries is also especially likely to be acute in light of technological, resource, and institutional constraints.”

Experts predict that tropical regions will see both a reduction in agricultural yields and a rise in poverty levels as livelihood opportunities for many engaged in the agricultural sector become increasingly susceptible to expected climate pressures.

Even moderate climate change provides added impetus to promoting local adaptation options concurrently with the pursuit of global efforts on mitigation strategies.

The Met Department director stressed the need for partnership between private organisations and the government in an effort to improve adaptation strategies.

Mr Mukabana said that key among the adaptation strategies are the development of policies aimed at reducing vulnerability to both short-term and long term climate variation.

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