By Bob Aston
The onset of the March-May 2016 “Long-Rains” Season presents an opportunity for farmers to use Participatory Scenario Planning advisories to agree on agricultural options, make decisions, develop, and plan for climate-resilient livelihoods and disaster management.
Participatory Scenario Planning empowers farmers to take advantage of opportunities that climate presents, which is a key part of adapting to climate change. In addition, it enables local stakeholders to have better access to seasonal climate forecasts from the Kenya Meteorological department and local forecasting experts.
|Farmers planting in Sipili area, Laikipia West,Kenya.|
Most farmers rarely use Participatory Scenario Planning action plans to decide on the best type of crops to plant and have contingency plans in place to mitigate against any eventuality. This usually leads to lower yields and in some cases crop failure.
In Laikipia County, a joint initiative by the Kenya Meteorological Department and the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) has been helping dairy, maize, sheep and goat farmers to assess likely hazards, risks, opportunities, and impacts caused by the March-May “Long-Rains” and October-December “Short-Rains.”
The advisories have been targeting agro input suppliers, agro-producers, agro-transporters, agro traders, and agro-processors with both meteorological and traditional weather forecast.
According to the Kenya Meteorological Services, most parts of Kenya will experience depressed rainfall during the March-May 2016 “Long-Rains” Season. The Kenya Meteorological Department forecast indicates that the long rains would end in most parts of the Country by end of May apart from the counties in the Lake Basin, highlands west of the Rift Valley, Central Rift Valley, and the Coastal strip, which will receive rainfall in June.
Forecast for Laikipia County indicates that Igwamiti, Marmanet, Githiga, Sosian, Salama, Segera, Ngobit, Nanyuki, Thingithu, and Ol-Moran will receive between 114-227 mm, which is below normal rainfall. Mukogondo West and Umande prediction indicates that the areas will receive normal rainfall at 228-341 mm, while Tigithi and Mukogondo East will receive between 342-456 mm, which is normal rainfall. Rumuruti area will receive the lowest rainfall at 1-113 mm.
The potential impact of the forecast in areas like Mukogondo East, Mukogondo West, Tigithi and Umande Wards are improved pasture, increased livestock diseases, good animal body condition, upsurge of respiratory diseases, reduced milk prices and increased milk spoilage for dairy, sheep and goat farmers.
Maize farmers in the area would realize increased yields, enhanced income and increased incidences of field and storage pests.
Agro producers in the wards are urged to vaccinate livestock against diseases, enhance disease surveillance, deworm animals, regularly dip and spray animals, and enhance pasture and fodder production, invest in water harvesting structure for livestock production, and establish hay storage facilities.
Others include conserve pasture as hay or silage, practice integrated pest management, adopt post-harvest technologies, promote legume and cereals aggregation, and plant crops that require more rainfall like hybrid H6 series, fruit trees, legumes like Canadian wonder and Rosecoco,
The potential rainfall impact in Ol-Moran, Sosian, Rumuruti, Igwamiti, Marmanet, Salama, Githiga, Tigithi, Ngobit, Nanyuki and Segera include reduced yields, pests and disease infestation like maize stoke borer and maize streak, reduced farmer income, reduced milk production, spread of livestock diseases, increased conflict over water and pasture, inadequate pasture and fodder production and deteriorated livestock body condition.
Dairy, Maize, sheep and goat farmers in the areas are urged to vaccinate livestock against diseases, improve on feeding and grazing management, strategically destock livestock, practice conservation agriculture, plant legumes like Katumani and other local varieties, plant drought resilient crops like sorghum, millet and dolichos, invest in water harvesting technologies and strategically manage pasture from last season El-Nino rains.
Collective sharing and interpretation of climate forecasts through Participatory Scenario Planning can go a long way in ensuring farmers not only make informed decisions but they also improve their income as they are able to take advantage of the various opportunities available during the short and long rain season.