NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13 – The Kenya Meteorological Department wants leaders to prioritise climate change issues in decision making to avert future food shortages in the country.
Director Joseph Mukabana said that other than reduce the impact of natural disasters; such information would enable Kenyans to prepare for disease outbreaks.
“The use of climate information on decision making would go a long way in preparedness on disasters that would occur, like flooding,” Mr Mukabana said. “It would also help to make contingency plans for drought. Drought comes slowly and it can be contained.”
Speaking to Capital News, Mr Mukabana also called on farmers to adapt their farming to the prevailing weather patterns.
“If there is a shift in weather patterns of a certain region, it should be known and this information can flow to the grassroots. Once it is known, then there should be adaptation of a certain type of crop, during the short rains, you use drought resistant crops,” he said.
Estimated marginal impacts of climate variables suggest that global warming is harmful for agricultural productivity and that changes in temperature are much more important than changes in precipitation.
Mr Mukabana said that when temperatures exceed the optimal for biological processes, crops often respond negatively with a steep drop in net growth and yield.
He stated that extreme meteorological events, such as spells of high temperature, heavy storms, or droughts, disrupt crop production.
He emphasised that recent studies have considered possible changes in the variability, as well as in the mean values of climatic variables.
“Where certain varieties of crops are grown near their limits of maximum temperature tolerance, such as rice in Southern Asia, heat spells can be particularly detrimental,” he stated.
Mr Mukabana concluded that frequent droughts not only reduce water supply but also increase the amount of water needed for plant transpiration.