• March-April-May (MAM) long rains season weather outlook shows depressed rainfall is expected to worsen food security and nutrition in the ASAL areas.
• In addition, food prices are expected to rise further and accessibility to food is also expected to be poor.
Farmers have been urged to plant drought-resistant and early maturing crops in the coming planting season. This will cushion them against low production due to poor rains.
The Kenya Meteorological Department has warned of depressed rainfall over most parts of the country and this is likely to hurt agricultural production.
This is especially true over some of the breadbasket and high potential areas of Rift Valley and Southeastern lowlands.
They include Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Baringo, Nakuru, Narok, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang'a, Kiambu, Embu, Meru, Nairobi, Laikipia and Kajiado.
The 2023 March-April-May (MAM) long rains season weather outlook indicated that the expected depressed rainfall is expected to worsen food security and nutrition in the ASAL areas. This may also spread to other parts of the country.
In addition, food prices are expected to rise further and accessibility to food is also expected to be poor.
David Gikungu the MET director advised farmers to plant drought-resistant and early maturing crops, fodder and pasture. He said farmers should liaise with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development for advice on land use management practices.
Gikungu further advised authorities and humanitarian institutions to closely monitor the situation and provide food and food supplements to the most vulnerable communities to avert loss of lives.
“The projected low rainfall combined with above-average temperatures may have a negative impact on pasture regeneration, particularly in ASAL areas. Thus, recovery from the effects of the current drought is unlikely over most areas. Consequently, the existing pasture and browsing area scarcity as well as poor animal body condition might persist,” he said.
Gikungu added that there may also be increased livestock mortality rates in pastoral areas as a result of reduced grazing pastures and water shortages, despite minimal rains
In addition to providing feed supplements to the remaining livestock, authorities have been encouraged to provide drought-resistant and fast-maturing grass and pasture seeds to the communities in the affected areas.
Former Water CASAndrew Tuimur has advised farmers to invest in small household water pans to enable them to harvest some water.
He said drought has adversely affected agricultural productivity.
“Due to this, there is a need to invest in and develop water infrastructure such as small dams or water pans for irrigation, livestock and household use. So far, there are more than 25,000 household water pans that have benefited farmers for irrigation,” Tuimur said.
The MAM outlook also showed that there is a likelihood of an increase in crop pests such as fall armyworms and animal diseases such as livestock migrates in search of water and pasture. Hence, integrated pest and disease surveillance, control and prevention should be enhanced.
The director said the current drought being experienced over the ASAL is expected to intensify and may spread to other parts of the country.
“Authorities are advised to sensitise and disseminate early warning information for anticipatory action to be taken as well as stepping-up measures already being implemented to avert loss of lives, livestock, and livelihoods,” Gikungu said.
(Edited by V. Graham)