Sunday, August 25, 2019

A depleted hill top in Makueni County- Forests help stabililize the climate by regulating ecosystems and play an intergral part in the carbon cycle.

The current trend of weather patterns where most counties are experiencing an increase in temperature and a decline in rainfall is threatening agricultural practices. This has caused reduction in food supply in the country, affecting production and nutrition thus it is a high time to adopt alternative farming methods that are climate compatible and have less reliance on rain-fed agriculture.

Speaking Thursday in a meeting in Nairobi on a study done by the Kenya Market Trust (KMT) on climate change resilience in the context of the Kenya’s Big Four Agenda, State department of Agriculture Principal Secretary Prof. Hamadi Boga said transformation of agriculture sector can only be effective with the presence of various initiatives.“Investment in research and data and monitoring of food system risks that aims to promote sustainability, climate resilience and crises management can be possible initiatives to transform the agriculture sector”, he said.

ROLL- A farmer in Mukaa sub-county, using oxens during a planting season- There is need to adopt alternative farming methods, that are climate combatible and have less reliance on rain-fed agriculture.

In a speech read on his behalf by the Director of Agriculture Research and Innovation, Mr Mwangi Harry Gioche, the PS noted that the KMT’s initiative to conduct climate change research will identify the potential of the ASAL areas in an effort to and improve the quality of life for the population living in these regions .This will in turn, he said contribute towards achievement of Food Security and manufacturing in the country but added that this can only be done through the application of research and innovation to counter climate change and achieve compatibility as a step towards attaining resilience and Food security in the ASAL’s. “The main drivers of this change will be the counties who are the bedrock and agriculture being a devolved function, I want to encourage county representatives in this forum to take up the challenge and advocate for the adoption of Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) in their counties,” Prof. Boga said.

ASTGS, is a 10 year blue print the government launched recently and seeks to increase agricultural output and value addition and promote knowledge & skills, research and innovation. The PS noted that being decision makers in the Counties, counties will have a better understanding of the profiles in their localities be involved in co-creating food resilience interventions to promote ownership, after which they can develop operational plans targeting food and feed resilience issues relevant to their people.

Dr. Mohammed Said Yahya, an associate climate change and adaptation expert from University of Nairobi and a researcher with Norwegian University said that currently the main concern at the global level is increase in temperatures and variability of climate.“The recent temperature discussion is 1.5 degrees and this conversation started here in Kenya but unfortunately little has been done within the region to address on the deliberations”, he said. Dr. Yahya noted that insights of the ‘Pathway to Resilience in Semi-Arid Economies (PRISE) project study that took five years was to come up with impact of the temperatures by first understanding the past history in terms of change of rainfall and temperatures.

Out of a study done in Kenya, 21 counties that the study was undertaken, he explained that 15 of them saw decreased rainfall and only 6 counties experienced just a slight increase in rainfall. In terms of temperatures, all the counties temperatures were increasing and where there were minimum temperatures, they were even higher at night than by day. Within the country, he said the hotspots areas mainly Turkana, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and Laikipia temperatures which are above 1.5 degrees. The implication of slight changes in temperature even with 0.5 degrees, Dr. Yahya said has big impact in both crop and livestock which are the main livelihoods of many pastoralists and communities in arid lands.

The importance of the study was to see what the impact of the changes in production systems within this counties are and this calls Kenya to change the way business is being done as it is an opportunity. “Climate change is not always a curse, there are winners and losers and an example we have in Kenya is increase in the population of sheep and goat and camel but decrease in cattle”, he said noting that Kenya however has the fifth largest livestock population in Africa and there is therefore need to use its resources to value add.

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