Climate change is the experience when the climatic conditions PERMANENTLY shift either side of the known average. We are familiar with the shift in the start or end of rain season, the number of rain days, length and intensity of dry spells. It can also be exhibited in the intensity and frequency of extreme climatic events such as droughts, ongoing floods all over the country.
Climate change is related to global warming which is the general increase in the earth’s near surface air and ocean temperatures due to GHG [National Climate Change Action Plan 2012-2017]
Agricultural production depends on soils and climatic resources that include temperature, radiation, rains and humidity. A change in these climate resources will therefore influence food production.
Impacts of climate change on food production
Studies predict an average increase in the earth’s near surface air temperature of 3.5?C – 4?C if CO2 doubles by 2030.Studies predict very large geographical disparities in the trend patterns with decrease in annual rainfall in the arid and semi-arid areas and increase over Lake Victoria [Winam] and the coastal and neighboring regions.
The implication is that some regions may gain from global warming and climate change while others may be adversely affected. A rise of temperatures without corresponding increase in rainfall: May lead to; increased levels of pests (such as aphids) and in the decline in crop yields necessitates the development of new crop varieties.
An increase in rainfall in the high rainfall areas would, however, have mixed results like; landslides on steep slopes; floods; increased maturation period for crops and increased incidence of fungal diseases in potatoes, maize and beans.
Below is table on droughts in Kenya
Year Coverage No. of People affected
1971 Widespread 150,000
1975 Widespread 16,000
1977 Widespread 20,000
1980 Widespread 40,000
1984/1985 Widespread 200,000
1991/1992 Widespread 1,500,000
1995/1996 Widespread 1,450,000
199/2000 Widespread 4,400,000
2004/2005 Widespread 3,500,000
2008/2009 Widespread 10,000,000
2012-2013 More than 100 deaths have occurred in 2013 More than 100,000 people displaced by floods alone in 2013
Effects of climatic change
Variations in rainfall and temperature, have always translated into variations in agricultural production. Decline in crop production is mainly due to; water stress due to prolonged droughts, crop damage by floods, landslides and increased level of pests and diseases due to rise in temperatures without corresponding increase in rainfall.
The basic forms of adaptation to Climate Change include, micro-level adaptations, market responses, institutional changes and technological developments.
Every adaptation effort results from both intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
Intrinsic factors are the efforts made by the vulnerable people themselves such as farmers, farmer associations, rural youth associations and community groups.
Extrinsic factors are the efforts from external people including government agencies, non-governmental agencies, development partners, and civil society organizations.
Barriers to climate change adaptation among Kenyan farmers
There are many constrains to climate change adaptation in Kenya. Some of these are; land Constraints that manifest in limited availability, low productivity, high cost of purchase and poor ownership systems (tenure); poor climate change information delivery; high cost of farm inputs and processing facilities and high cost of irrigation facilities. Other constraints include credit constraints, labor constricts and income constraints.
Promote Conservation Agriculture [CA]. CA integrates modern agricultural techniques to improve production and ecological principles that protect and enhance the quality of land resources on which sustainable growth of agriculture depends.
We need to develop buffer areas of crop/forage production as part of contingency planning. We should strengthen demand driven R&D to generate climate resilient technologies and methodologies. We should also contribute to climate change information sharing and knowledge management.
We need also ensure that small-scale farmers can deliver crops at a fair price to markets in the face of all changes and harvest all water runoff for crop production.
The best way to take care and keep biodiversity is to effectively develop a new farming model based on the conservation principles. We can simultaneously achieve high productivity and sustainability. This can be done by responding to the unavoidable necessity to produce enough food and at the same time keep the main biodiversity reservoir contained on the “still undisturbed” Kenyan ecosystems.